I love jazz because it speaks to my soul and never disappoints. The complexity and the improv mean that I never hear the same cut on an album or live performance of a piece the same way twice and it works my mind, body and soul. To me, listening to good jazz is akin to a healing meditation!
Published on: 2019-03-27
I was first exposed to jazz by my parents who loved to go out dancing to big band jazz on the weekends and by my life long late soul mate when I first met him in the early 20s. Together, we enjoyed his vast and ever increasing jazz LP collection and going to hear great jazz live including many, many nationally known musicians who came through our city or who we had the privilege to hear at noted venues around the country, such as a Miles Davis concert at Red Rocks amphitheater in Denver in the 1970s, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Modern Jazz Quartet, Richard Davis, Ben Sidran, Jimmie and Jeanie Cheatham, Joey Alexander and many others in Madison WI, and others through the years at noted jazz clubs in Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
I have gotten to know many local amazing jazz musicians in my former community, Madison WI, and in my current community in Austin TX, and it is my privilege to call some of these great people my friends. I want to do all that I can to make the jazz scene in Austin TX become a vibrant, visible, accessible and appreciated part of the music in Austin, which declares itself the live music capital of the world be rarely mentions, let alone touts, the great jazz happening in Austin that is found mostly word-of-mouth.
The best show I ever attended was Miles Davis, live at Red Rocks in Denver. His performance was spellbinding and he never said a single word, communicating with the audience via large placards, and his music music, of course. The first jazz record I bought was the latest Miles Davis album in the early 1970s, as a birthday present for my partner. Turns out it was an album of his music during the period when he went all off into discordant avant garde style, never finding a groove or melodic base. Neither my partner no I could listen to it. So I took it back to the record store and they let me return it and exchange for another Miles album that was more to our jazz style liking! We were so happy when Miles abandoned that style and return to melodic music.
My advice to new listeners, focus in to one instrument at a time, and especially when that player is doing a solo improv. Know that the basic tune of the composition is played again and again in varying versions by the entire band and by each soloist in turn and that each time you hear that composition, it may be or feel as if it is different from every other time you have heard it and that is one of the beauties of Jazz.
Jazz fans are first and foremost interested in listening to and appreciating the music and not likely to want to get inebriated while doing so because it is hard to really listen well to jazz if one is drunk. Jazz fans are good people and worth getting to know. Venture out and try talking to fans around you. You will find a great social community. Talk to the musicians about what you like about their playing and how much you enjoyed their performance. Let venues know that you have really enjoyed yourself while there listening to Jazz and tip them well, be good customers. Take friends to listen to jazz with you, even if they say they aren't really into jazz. Chances are, they have never really listened to much jazz or maybe their exposure was to a jazz style that didn't fit with their sensibilities and never tried again.