The Jazz Life

The Jazz Life is a monthly column that aims to be a different take on how we write and read about jazz–stories of individual experiences, funny, sad, maddening and profound. A community talking to itself about what’s really important, or at least interesting to its members.

THE JAZZ LIFE

A Professional Jazz Musician? Really? What's That?

Read "A Professional Jazz Musician? Really? What's That?" reviewed by Peter Rubie

I've been around as a musician long enough to understand when a promoter or booker ghosts me. “Yeah, sure, send me an email," they say in that sincere way that sounds like someone saying, “Of course I love you" just to shut you up. It comes with the territory, and a musician has to be Zen about the whole thing. Getting work as a professional freelance artist has always been like trying to join an exclusive club you can usually ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Jazz and the Rules of the Knife Fight

Read "Jazz and the Rules of the Knife Fight" reviewed by Peter Rubie

There's a great scene near the beginning of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when Butch (Paul Newman) returns to the Hole in the Wall Gang and is challenged for leadership of the gang. As Butch and Harvey face off, Butch says to his enormous opponent, “Let's get the rules straight first." Harvey straightens in surprise for a moment and says, “Rules? In a knife fight? No rules!" The script then says, “Butch delivers the most aesthetically exquisite kick in ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Scenes from a life in Jazz

Read "Scenes from a life in Jazz" reviewed by Duncan Lamont

About the author Duncan Lamont is one of the UK's musical treasures. I've known who he is for years, but finally through a friend, got to meet and play with him only this year (2018) at The Pizza Express in Soho, London. Sammy Cahn, the legendary lyricist, said about Duncan, “It makes me very happy that people are still writing songs like “I Told You So." (The song won Duncan best Jazz Song of the Year in the U.S.). Tomorrow's ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Does Talent Matter?

Read "Does Talent Matter?" reviewed by Peter Rubie

A good friend of mine, who is a recognized great guitarist, once said to me as we were standing at the bar of the old Birdland, “Charlie Christian really wasn't that good a player, you know." I looked at him for a moment, then said with a smile, “Are you trying to pick a fight with me?" He laughed. Busted! Not so long ago, another friend who wanted to be a novelist and had worked hard at it ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Growing Older Jazzfully

Read "Growing Older Jazzfully" reviewed by Peter Rubie

So there I was the other day, taking a yoga lesson, trying to loosen my aching muscles. I'm at that age where it aches if I do exercise, and I stiffen if I don't. The instructor was a young woman with the flexibility of a baby who can suck her own toes. She asked us to lie on our backs and make a figure 4 with our legs in the air, then grasp a thigh and pull back... You get ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

The Little Metal Buddha

Read "The Little Metal Buddha" reviewed by Spike Wilner

A short piece this time. But sometimes saying what you want, like playing what you want, in as few words--or notes as possible, is really the way to go. The Jazz Life is an interesting project I'm engaged in, writing and searching for things to say that focus on what we do in order to live and perform as jazz musicians. I'm interested in hearing from anyone via All About Jazz who has a story to tell about ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Indecent Heroes and All That Jazz

Read "Indecent Heroes and All That Jazz" reviewed by Peter Rubie

Bill Cosby's deserved fall from Grace, perhaps more than anyone else's--and there has been a dizzying final reckoning for a bunch of them--has really hit me. I've been trying to figure out why that is and it's not obvious. But I think it's partly about how the accusations against Chuck Close have been handled. The problem is not whether or not these guys should be defended--it's the more profound issue of whether we can or should separate the artist from ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Intermission Riff: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cat

Read "Intermission Riff: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cat" reviewed by Anthony Glass

In 1958 I was 20 and in my second year at Swansea University. I also played guitar in a small group with my good friend Russ John. We lived in a small village called Trallwn, four miles outside of Swansea. Swansea was a centre of heavy industry and extensive pollution, yet a few miles away was the Gower peninsular, one of the most beautiful regions of Britain. Sunday in our village was for chapel except for our family, communists and ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Getting Past (E)Go

Read "Getting Past (E)Go" reviewed by Peter Rubie

I like to play squash, and the best advice a pro ever gave me was this: “Hit the ball in the middle of the racquet." Do you have any idea how difficult that simple piece of advice is to master? Not so long ago, a friend (Brent Vaartstra) posted a great podcast about overcoming low self esteem as a musician. This is something that has plagued me on and off most of my musical career, and I've been ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Telling Stories and Singing Songs

Read "Telling Stories and Singing Songs" reviewed by Peter Rubie

“I believe if you're paying a man to play, and that man is on the bandstand and can play, he should get a chance to tell his story." --Lester Young Prez was once asked how to improvise, and reportedly he said, “Tell them a story." Telling stories about living the jazz life in the early 21st is the heart of what this column is going to be about. Pour yourself a beer or a glass of wine, and ...


"Lilac Skies" - The new single from jazz guitarist Shambhu

"This music is dedicated to lifting us up inside. Relax, groove, dance, enjoy and love.” ~Shambhu (pronounced SHOHM-boo) A who’s who of magically talented musicians joined Shambhu (guitars, e-keyboards, e-bass) for this live studio recording, including Frank Martin (keyboards), Celso Alberti (drums and percussion), Kai Eckhardt (bass), and Premik Russell Tubbs on flute.

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