Jazz Stories: 2017

Jazz Stories: 2017
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 2016, 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 2017. New stories arrive daily and we've gathered over thousands to date—well 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 Shelly Liebowitz

My parents used to play all of the big band music and I was hooked at an early age. I had a 2 cousins in music business and they had a great influence on me. I was working at Roulette Records on rock acts when I met Count Basie. I was fascinated with his style and we would talk music for hours. He introduced me to Sammy Davis Jr and then to Ella Fitzgerald the rest as they say is history!

From Akosua Gyebi

The first jazz record I bought was Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard. When I was in high school, I somehow stumbled across the track "My Man's Gone Now" and was instantly transfixed. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. So I saved up (times were hard for a teenager back then) and went out and bought the album.

From Dan McClenaghan

I've always loved music. One of my earliest memories is from 1956, my older brothers bringing home two brand new 45 rpm records: Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" and Bill Haley and the Comets' "See You Later Alligator." The animal themes appealed to this four year old. And the sound of Elvis' up-from-the-gut power and The Comets' shake-rattle-and-roll rhythm mesmerized me. Jazz came to me later, in 1968, via a friend's Chico Hamilton album, The Dealer (Impulse!, 1966). I was hooked. I still am.

From George Richardson

I love jazz because of the freedom of expression and endless fusion of genres and styles old and new.

I was first exposed to jazz when my college tutor played Charles Mingus "Haitian Fight Song" in class and it just opened my mind to a world of musical possibilities and that's where my journey started. After that I continued to explore new genres always looking forward to be moved again like the first time i heard pure soul and feeling poured out in that stampede of a bass solo!

The best show I ever attended was GoGo Penguin—all of their concerts have be a life experience.

The first jazz record I bought was Charles Mingus Featuring Eric Dolphy, Live at Cornell 1964.

My advice to new listeners is don't just give up because of some confusing manic be-bop line that sound's like noise because you've never heard anything like it before. It takes time to appreciate new art whether visual or audio but like all art there are many styles, sub-genres and beautiful marriages of different musical cultures under the canopy of "Jazz" music. It's so vast it's worth searching for that first composition or artist whose sound suits you and once you find that you will grasp a deeper understanding of art in its creativity and still see its ever evolving form changing and growing right in front of you. Whether musician or listener being open to one thing can lead to the ability to be open to many other things both in and out of music but music can be a great catalyst for starting a creative journey of your own that will hopefully never end.

From Mark Klemow

I was first exposed to jazz when I took a Jazz & Blues class in college in the early '80s. Gary Giddins (at the time, jazz critic for the Village Voice) was the instructor and his passion for the music ignited a fire in me that burns brightly to this day.

From Simon Pilbrow

I was first exposed to jazz via playing Scott Joplin rags on piano in early 1970s, reading a book about Joplin and then how jazz evolved from this and the blues and marching bands through Louis Armstrong et al, and then seeking out the music on some wonderful jazz radio programs in Melbourne Australia in the 1970s, and via our next door neighbour Terry's jazz record collection, and then trying to play the music with my brother Tim—and that's where my love of this great music began. It hasn't stopped growing.

The first jazz record I bought was the mid-1940s recording Sugar Hill Shuffle by Count Basie and His Orchestra.

My advice to new listeners is to start with the earliest jazz and move forward—there are now 100 years of recorded jazz to enjoy, and it all makes a lot of sense if you listen chronologically, and your listening 'ears' will grow with the music Then whatever you hear will fit into a rich historical context... listen and enjoy all of it... and read all you can about the music and its creators—it will enrich your understanding and point you to the greatest musicians and the best music to listen to. Be prepared for a lot of exciting surprises and to be continually amazed by this great music. Keep on listening and enjoying it! If you find a musician or style you particularly enjoy, then just immerse yourself in it!

From Joe Gatto

My personal best Jazz story/experience is while on vacation in New York City in July 2014, I got to go with my good friend to the memorial service for great Jazz pianist, Horace Silver. We heard the announcement on New York's best Jazz radio station WBGO, and decided to go.

Mr. Silver's family, friends, fans, and plenty of Jazz musicians (like Lou Donaldson telling great stories) packed an old Episcopalian church in the Lower East Side, played his music, and eulogized this great man. We walked out feeling full of soul. I'd never felt such a soulful vibe before.

I love jazz because it makes me feel great when I listen to it! So, I listen to it a lot.

I don't have words for how to describe the feelings conveyed in Jazz. Music teachers come up with wonderful adjectives, and can turn a phrase to communicate what it's like to hear the opening notes of "Freddie Freeloader" for example.

Me, I just like to listen to it. I like to search for Jazz songs that are new to me, or re-listen to an iconic track with new ears. I want to keep having that groovy feeling I get when I hear Jazz I haven't heard before, yet immediately grabs my attention and keeps coming with layers of soulful music.

The best Jazz show I ever attended was Christian McBride Trio at the Columbus Jazz & Ribs Festival. He is such a gracious showman, and his band grooves hard!

My advice to new listeners is to explore the vast catalogs on the iconic labels like Blue Note to get into the Hard Bop players, explore the New Orleans sound, get hip to the current Jazz musicians that make the art form thrive today—and broaden your horizons & enrich your life with the world's most soulful music.

From Mike Jurkovic

I love jazz because it expands the soul and frees the mind from the standard thumpa-thumpa 4x4.

I was first exposed to jazz in high school. Brubeck's Jazz Goes to College, Garner's Concert by the Sea, and Trane's A Love Supreme.

I met David Amram, Marilyn Crispell, Paul Motian, Hiromi, and others.

The first jazz record I bought was A Love Supreme.

My advice to new listeners be fearless.

From Don Phipps

I love jazz because it combines elements of improvisation, innovation, and structure and incorporates blues, classical music, and world music idioms.

I was first exposed to jazz in high school where I "tried" to play the clarinet and saxophone. My love of music grew into dabbling with the piano and guitar as well. Played in school jazz bands in college.

I have met and/or interviewed Art Blakey, Ralph Towner, Oliver Lake, Anthony Braxton, Elvin Jones, Sam Rivers, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Don Moye, Joseph Jarmin, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden, Evan Parker, William Parker, Henry Threadgill, Cooper Moore, Matt Otto, Jane Ira Bloom, Donald Harrison, Terrence Blanchard, Don Pullen, Billy Higgins, and Cecil Taylor to name a few.

My advice to new listeners -remember that jazz has a vast catalog. No one can listen to everyone no matter how much time you have. My strategy is to spin new music often, explore areas of the back catalog as time permits, respect and learn about past masters to inform my appreciation of new and current masters, and keep an open mind. Jazz is very much a "flow" music—cerebral, emotional—but clearly a music of the moment. And the best jazz is in the moments where creative, improvisation, innovative and classical influences all come together to produce art at the highest level.

From Perry Thoorsell

I love jazz because it is a blend of group dialog, empathy, and individual meritocracy. Only jazz brings these diverse elements together in such an uplifting and satisfying way.

From Jim Worsley

I love jazz because...jazz is soothing...jazz is beautifully complex....jazz is Django and Steve Gadd....jazz is cool...jazz is hard bop and big band....jazz is cats, birds, and chops...jazz is Hank Mobley and Hiromi.....jazz enriches the soul....jazz is hot....jazz is fusion and the blues....jazz is Paul Chambers and Jean Luc Ponty...jazz is evocative... jazz is at the center of the universe...jazz is Arturo Sandoval and Michael Brecker...jazz is free and invigorating...jazz is timeless....jazz is bebop and latin...jazz is Vinnie Colaiuta and Marcus Miller...jazz is the Blue Note...jazz is an eternal groove...jazz is essential...jazz is Freddie Hubbard and Joe Sample...jazz is forever.

From Zette St.Charles

I love jazz because it takes me to my escape place as a writer!

I was first exposed to jazz at 16 driving around in my t-top yellow corvette and my father was a local DJ and dedicated this song "to my princess in her yellow carriage" and played Doc Severinsen's "The World's Gone Home" (1975) and I was forever hooked.

From Robert Miller

I love jazz because the music is ever-changing. Great improvisational music is never played the same exact way twice. The framework may be the same, but the notes change with the interplay and mood of the musicians as well as the feedback and mood of the audience. Pop is the exact opposite—every song is played note-for-note. Boring!


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