Arthur R George
Journalist/Attorney/Skier/Surfer/Jazz Enthusiast Based in Northern California
Originally from New Jersey, now north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. Graduate of Rutgers
University and University of San Francisco. Hobbies include skiing in Sierra, surfing at Bolinas and
Santa Cruz on the Pacific coast, playing saxophone at Christmas for the Salvation Army, and
favorite music: jazz.
My Jazz Story
I love jazz because it challenges and stimulates; it's like being part of a club that meets in the coolest of places.
I was first exposed to jazz through the theme song of the old "Route 66" TV show: syncopated movement. Much later, a fellow by the
name of Chris Link sat me down and taught me how to listen with two magic words: "Dig this..."
I have met several great jazz musicians who have now passed on: Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Bobby Hutcherson, Cedar Walton, and was
lucky to see them at their best late in their careers, just before they left town. I've been privileged to meet Charles Lloyd, Ravi
Coltrane, Eddie Henderson, Jimmy and Tootie Heath, Andrew Cyrille, and Hiromi. Without exception, as great as these musicians are,
they are courteous, humble, and grateful to be appreciated. In another venue, like sports or rock, the stars are all but inaccessible. In
jazz, when you're in the right place, like a small club, you walk among the giants who are standing right next to you.
The best show I ever attended was the pianist Hiromi, every time I've seen her. And Elvin Jones, every time I saw him.
The first jazz record I bought was "Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall" in high school. I figured that because it said Carnegie Hall my parents
could not object even though they thought it sounded like "stripper music." "Forest Flower" by Charles Lloyd came later in college, and
has been a friend ever since.
My advice to new listeners is to be willing to listen, and find someone to guide you. Within any piece of music, count 1-2-3-4 as slowly
as necessary to find a structure you can hang on to. Start with "Kind of Blue" by Miles, the most popular jazz album of all time, and for
good reason: it is accessible, and can point you to the wonders beyond; or with someone more contemporary who makes for enjoyable
listening, like Esperanza Spalding; anything early Coltrane, to see where the modern advenuture really begins; or "Girl from Ipanema"
by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto to know what setting a mood is all about; and Frank Sinatra: listen to his voice above the Nelson
Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, Quincy Jones arrangements behind him. And then branch out: ask who are these people, who else did they play
with, why are they significant, do you like them? Read, listen, ask. The jazz universe is a library of sound and experience.
My House Concert Story
Jazz clubs provides an intimacy you will never find in a stadium or big hall. If you're in New York City, go to Smoke or the Blue Note;
can't fail: the
musicians are right among you. Scullers in Boston, Blues Alley in Seattle, the Dakota in Minneapolis, Anthology in San Diego, Yoshi's in
grooviest of California beach clubs: Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz, still something like a coffee house, and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite
Society south of
San Francisco in Half Moon Bay, a jazz living room. When going to a distant city, check out who will be performing when you get there,
and go! Both
you and the musicians will be happy you did....see you there!