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Mackenzie Horne

My goals as an appreciator are outreach and preservation and I work towards these goals by documenting live performances, interviewing prominent musicians in the community, and promoting a local calendar of events.

About Me

My name is Mackenzie Horne and I am a young resident of the city of Pittsburgh. When I first moved here three years ago, I had never heard the names John Coltrane or Bill Evans; I'd never listened to the bass riff of Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" and I'd never tapped my foot to "Freddie Freeloader." In the spring of 2017 I wandered down to the speakeasy of James Street, a once-loved jazz venue located in Pittsburgh's North Shore, and I listened to live jazz for the first time in my life. I bought my first jazz record before I got home that night; the record was 'Roots and Herbs' by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Since then, I have devoted many hours to listening and learning. In a place like Pittsburgh, jazz is more than just contemporary culture; it is a mechanism for reaching back into the past to better understand nuances of race, politics, and economy. Maintaining the living history of jazz endows agency to its creators and it empowers listeners. My goals as an appreciator are outreach and preservation and I work towards these goals by documenting live performances, interviewing prominent musicians in the community, and promoting a local calendar of events.

My Jazz Story

Published on: 2018-12-08

I don't remember the last record I bought and I don't remember because I impulsively buy in multiples. I've always been that way with jazz and I don't know why. As fallible as human memory can be, there are certain moments in my listening experience that I'll never forget; my come-to-Jesus moments seem to spring from an infinite well and those realizations occur with more alarming frequency the older I get. I'll chalk it up to the emotional maturity and transparency that comes with listening to this music with an open heart. I'm an endlessly sad human being. I prefer it that way (most of the time), and I find myself most often gravitating towards musicians who are able to clearly articulate a recognizable sadness in their playing. Listening to something like the 2nd movement from Bill Evans's 'Symbiosis' is incredibly cathartic-- I'd go as far as to say sobering. I mention this record not because I think it's a record everyone should own (plenty of people will find Claus Ogerman's proto-minimalism more than a little contrived at times) but because it's the device with which I can most clearly articulate my advice for listeners who are new to the music, or rediscovering it. The quality that most strongly drew me to jazz in the first place was the intense vulnerability between musician and listener. For me, my capacity to enjoy the music was fully realized when I realized that musicians are brave enough to tell their stories through their instruments and bold enough to trust their audiences to interpret those stories with care. Appreciative audiences remain vulnerable enough to receive those messages, process the meaning, and respond in a meaningful way. Acknowledging that musicians and listeners temporarily and intimately occupy the same space enriched my relationship with the music and I think that realization makes the art more accessible for attentive listeners.

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