Jazz Stories: 2016

Jazz Stories: 2016
Michael Ricci By

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All About Jazz—a longstanding internet destination for all things jazz—is a community bound by its love of the music.

Since March, we've solicited jazz stories from our members asking them to answer any of a handful of questions and we wanted to recognize some of our submissions from 2016. New stories arrive daily and we've gathered over 3,000 to date—that's over EIGHT years of jazz stories!

Inspired, touching, funny, helpful (to newbies) or simply providing snapshots in jazz history, we've included several that capture the spirit of jazz and articulate the many reasons why we love the music.

So, on with the stories...

From Matthew Currier Langley

I love jazz because it offers freedom of expression while demanding the highest levels of communication, musicianship and spontaneity. It spans the musical spectrum from pure sound exploration to sophisticated harmonic invention and rhythmically it can be anywhere from free and sparse to totally dense and driving. What's not to like!?

From Henry Martinez

I love jazz because it's evolutionary without abandoning its roots (and it's just so damn cool!). I was first exposed to jazz by Bitches Brew era Miles Davis. The best show I ever attended was the RTF quartet at the Berkeley Community Center (this was the early 80's, so I may have the venue wrong). The first jazz record I bought was Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. My advice to new listeners... listen.

From Frank Moten

Though born in New York City, I spent my childhood in Englewood, New Jersey surrounded by neighbors like George Benson, Wilson Pickett, Tony Bennett, The Isley Brothers, Sarah Vaughan, Miriam Makeba and Clyde Otis—which probably explains my passion for music and his infatuation with the music industry. Even still, growing up among a group of music legends wasn't the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. Dizzy Gillespie was.

From Michael Moynihan

I love jazz because it evokes the emotions and conditions that make us human. It reflects our realest selves.

I was first exposed to jazz by my father who bought me my first jazz record, Blue Train, and let me listen to his Charlie Parker and Miles Davis CD's.

The best show I ever attended was Kurt Rosenwinkel Quintet at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago with Mark Turner on saxophone, Jochen Ruckert on drums, and Joe Martin on bass. Rosenwinkel's song Ezra, dedicated to his son, moved me to tears.

"Jazz is not where the spirit lies, it is where the heart lies. Let your spirit fly free, and your heart do the talking."

From Bett Butler

I was first exposed to jazz when I won a portable AM/FM radio in a contest and discovered the stations at the low end of the dial. Billie Holiday's world-weary voice was a gateway for me into a world of musical storytelling, where I've been fortunate to live ever since.

From Kathy Green

I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.

From Michael Gibbs

Years ago now—in Rhodesia—listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play "When The Saints Go Marching In," and Billie Holiday sing "Don't Explain." I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.

From Dexter Payne

Jazz, by definition, continues to re-invent itself. When it is not breaking new ground, it's providing valuable musical commentary on existing traditions. In an age where geographic boundaries are dissolving, jazz becomes an important language. Words sometimes get in the way of understanding—music is the solution. At the same time, I am very interested in the unique expressions of music in differing cultures, something at risk in the modern world. I am currently devoured by traditional Brazilian clarinet and sax, with devious interests in Turkish Rom and Greek clarinet... and Berber Moroccan rhythms, and Fulani flute, and...

From Adam Carrillo

I love jazz because it is so creative and inspiring. It's a language that few can speak but one that many can enjoy.

The best show I ever attended was a Branford Marsalis concert in San Antonio. He was upset at the hotel venue because his accommodations were horrible. He brought that frustration and "anger" to the set and it was fantastic. The energy was palpable.

My advice to new listeners is to put on a good set of headphones and just listen to a new artist a day—just pay attention to the details in the rhythm section as the soloist tells a story. It is like reading a good book—it takes you places.

From Stephanie Castillo


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