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Meet Esther Berlanga Ryan

AAJ Staff By

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What role does jazz music play in your life? Jazz music is the peace gauge, the source of all things good in my life. When my dad passed away in 2003 I was unable to listen to jazz until five years later. That is how deep it runs in my veins: it hurt too much. But the thing is that you can't run from love, and jazz is all love to me. I have met some extraordinary people who have dedicated their lives to playing this music, but at the end of the day, to me, it is all about what this music makes me feel, how it can make me smile, and sometimes even cry.

Three years ago I was in New York City and went to the Village Vanguard to see Christian McBride; one of the pieces they performed was a stunning "East of the Sun, West of the Moon..." It was so beautiful, I cried. That is what I mean. If it reaches your soul, it will stay there forever, and you will grow as a person in ways you never knew you could.

How does writing about jazz contribute to the music itself? Jazz seems to have been overlooked for many years now. An American art form, it has not been properly protected, and musicians struggle to make ends meet, now more than ever before. When we write about it my hope is we give it the recognition it deserves.

Many jazz festivals have opted for more commercial, non-jazz performances for their lineups, jazz stations have shut down all over the U.S., smooth jazz has taken over, and when you are not a mainstream genre of music, you end up being in danger of extinction... It may sound overly dramatic, but it is the world jazz lives in. It simply does not receive the respect it should.

What do you like most about All About Jazz? The variety of jazz it covers, which is pretty much everything. That is important. To give everybody a voice, a chance to shine, if their art is true.

What positives have come from your association with All About Jazz? When you treat people well, they usually treat you well in return. I have found that when I touch people with my articles, they tend to remember, and they respect your work. That is always a beautiful thing.

Esther Berlanga Ryan at All About Jazz

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