Out of all the ways I can express myself, I have chosen the music of jazz. I believe that jazz is an art that allows me to truly express myself, from the most ordinary human emotions to my deepest, most heartfelt ones. Among countless varieties of expression, jazz is the most human form, being able to provide an appropriate soundtrack for any moment in my life.
The pressures of school and my everyday life often leave me in depressing moods. But once I get home, it’s a matter of finding an Ellington track and hitting the play button. Collapsing on my bed, I let my spirit run with the music. My eyes closed, all my stress and cares dissolve in the upbeat notes of Take the A Train. I picture myself strolling down a street with my heart swinging to the music, witnessing the faces of cheerful people with nothing but pure joy on their faces. This tune itself allows me to experience the feelings of happiness and joy, a breath of fresh air that prevents me from drowning in my sea of troubles.
With jazz, I am able to feel and express very deep emotions. Upon hearing Benny Golson’s I Remember Clifford, I was deeply moved. The slow and beautiful melody conveyed a profound sensation of emotional pain. Afterwards, I discovered that the song had been written as a tribute to a prominent jazz trumpeter who had died in a car accident when he was just 25 years old. I am not indifferent to the meaning behind the music. Even though he lived in the past, through his music I feel that I know him, and that he was a man of kindness and passion. Every time I play this piece I express a deep grief, with emotions flowing through me like tears on a cheek.
It was a while before I actually saw live jazz being performed by professionals. When the musicians began to play, they seemed to forget that they were in a club, or that they were performing a show. Their expressions were ones of pure bliss. Eyes closed, the man on the drum kit looked like he was in deep concentration, but the big grin on his face told me that he was enjoying every moment. Never before have I seen such a happy and content person. Without a doubt, he was playing with not just his hands and feet, but with his soul.
When I myself am playing jazz on the saxophone, I find that I am able to convey emotions which are more meaningful and closer to the true emotions that I experience. Jazz is so valuable to me because I can discover myself within the notes, harmonies, and melodies. On any day, at any moment, jazz allows me to be who I am. Among a world of confusion and chaos, jazz is my way of existing, and its sound is beautiful.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.