To the Love of Jazz

Thanks to my new smart-phone and Pandora application, where you can tune into radio stations that specialize in different kinds of music, I’ve taken to listening to Jazz. I like turning it on after hours in the evening, often when I’m doing some writing but today I’ve got it on in broad daylight because I’m sick with a cold and need to stay indoors and rest.

What is it that I suddenly like so much about Jazz? I love the mellowness of saxophone, the fresh, electric, off-beat rhythm, the light, tinkling dance of the piano. Whether just relaxing and listening to it or doing something with jazz in the background it sounds so soothing to my state of mind, lifting me out of blue, sad moods and looking at the world in a lighter, happier, more laid-back way.

When I’m tired, it comforts with a drink and a soft, velvet couch in a stylish little bistro while I listen to the gentle tones of a piano as it winds its soft, exploratory way around the doors and walls and ceilings that lie amidst place, time and space. I don’t even need to drink or go anywhere, just listen and my imagination does it for me. The music alone is a leisurely sip of the purest cognac in a soulfully deep, crystal glass.

Jazz speaks to me in lots of different ways. It could be ironic, evoking visions of hard-bitten cops in the 1970s driving around in cars in dusty, desolate bitumen paved streets in run-down suburbia and pummeling criminals. Or it could speak to me about the whole of modern life itself, as I have known it from the age of 7, when I first saw the cubist art of Picasso such as his ‘three musicians’ and experienced the topsy-turvy world of dreams about many things I perceived and not yet understood as reality danced, tangled and untangled itself into a multitude of new meanings before my eyes.

Painting of Three Musicians

Three Musicians, Picasso

Jazz is a place in the modern 20th century and onwards world where minimalism, abstraction, angles of buildings, the colours of paint on the walls, electric lights in white paper globes shone over gold-coloured carpet matting, the lives of other people, and a life comfortable enough to perceive these things set themselves to this strange, energetic, wayward new music.

Jazz has aged well and always sounds fresh, now and welcoming, even when it has a vintage feel. It’s music with a past, present and future. A successful jazz musician can be any age and often they get better with age. Whereas a lot of older rock and roll musicians are having a hard time staying relevant these days, the quiet achievements of the greats of jazz are revered and they keep their lustre and their listening power. Successful Jazz musicians have also been virtuoso players in classical music before they turned to jazz, like the guy who did the wonderful ‘Cantaloupe Island’, so it’s deeply serious music and steeped in greatness. Wikepedia reminds me it’s Herbie Hancock.

Forgive me, I’ve only newly fallen in love with Jazz and am not au fait with the names of the compositions I particularly like apart from my long-time appreciation of the singer Billie Holiday. But the Pandora application is a wonderful thing that tells me about the composer/s while it’s playing the tune, so I’m learning and I keep on playing it and enjoying it.