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

Scenes From a Life in Jazz, Part 2: Life on the Road

Read "Scenes From a Life in Jazz, Part 2: Life on the Road" reviewed by Duncan Lamont

Part 1 | Part 2 Duncan Lamont was one of the UK's musical treasures. He passed away unexpectedly, a couple of days before his upcoming 88th birthday on July 4th, 2019, having done a gig at the 606 Club in London the night before. I'd known and admired who he was for years and we had several close mutual musical acquaintances. I finally got to play with him at The Pizza Express in Soho, London in 2018. Sammy ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

Scenes From The Life Of A Young Jazz Musician

Read "Scenes From The Life Of A Young Jazz Musician" reviewed by Jack Wilkins

Foreword Jack Wilkins is an iconic jazz guitarists of the 1970s who is still playing his ass off today, after a career leading and accompanying a host of groups with musicians such as Stan Getz, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy McGriff, Zoot Sims, Sonny Stitt, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette, Phil Woods, and the Brecker Brothers to mention just a handful. One thing about Jack that many people don't know was that as young musician he also played vibes ...

THE JAZZ LIFE

To Dream the Impossible Dream: the quest for a music education

Read "To Dream the Impossible Dream: the quest for a music education" reviewed by Peter Rubie

I've been thinking a lot about how jazz is taught recently. I realize now, my search for a real musical education was not a simple thing, but a series of life changing moments. My son, on the other hand, is planning to study music in college after he finishes high school. Though it would fill his grandparents with dread were they still around to see it, to Ben and his peers it is a natural choice, focused on finding the ...

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

Part 1 | Part 2 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 ...

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 ...