Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Concert Experience- NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra

The YJO in Jordan Hall
Last Tuesday, May 20th, I had the amazing opportunity to play in Jordan Hall with the NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra. 

The group performed a wide range of music by composers including Randy Weston, Dizzy Gillespie, Ken Schaphorst, Donny McCaslin, Quincy Jones, Tito Puente and more.

The Orchestra featured students from area middle and high schools including Lexington, South Berwick, Newton, Canton, Ashland, Marshfield, Medfield, Hatchfille, Milton, Needham, Arlington and Southborough. The group was lead by Ken Schaphorst, head of jazz studies at New England Conservatory. 

A Concert Experience- NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra

The concert started with "Blink" by the director, Ken Schaphorst. This piece was supposed to resemble the feeling of when you blink, and the shock of a total blackout. This was done with interspersed unison rests. Schaphorst utilized a variety of dynamics to provide shock and contrast, along with strong harmonic dissonances to give an edgy sound. 

The second song was an arrangement of the Tony Williams song "Sister Cheryl" by the Youth Jazz Orchestra. Tony Williams, the famous jazz drummer from Miles Davis's Second Great Quintet, was from Boston, so this song choice was a nice homage to him with a calming rhythmic pulse. The bass line is quite catchy, providing a nice foundation for the soaring horn melodies and strong harmonies. 

The next song was "Sweet Meat" by Randy Weston. This song was a slow swing tune, and really focused on inflections. This song was in the style of Count Basie, and really captured the laid back feel of his music, with strong swinging horn melodies and a grounded rhythm section. 

"Second Line Sally" by Donny McCaslin and arranged by Ken Schaphorst was a joy to play. It had a New Orleans meets rock vibe that made it very energetic. This song featured the lead tenor saxophonist, and even had a sort of tenor saxophone battle, with solos from the first and second tenor saxophone. 

The traditional song "Down by the Riverside" arranged by Oliver Nelson was my personal favorite. It alternates between different meters, and presents a fresh, jazzy, modern twist on a traditional song. This song is so outrageous, it makes me laugh every time I played it! 

The second act started with "Three and One" arranged and composed by the great Thad Jones. This song alternated between the focus of a small group sound versus a big band sound for enormous contrast. The sax soli showcased the technique and inflections of the saxophone section, and the shout chorus showcased the power of the entire orchestra. 

The YJO in Jordan Hall

"Con Alma" was by Dizzy Gillespie and arranged by Ken Schaphorst. This arrangement gave a raggae feel to a jazz standard to provide an edge, and a pop to what would be expected. This song left a lot of room for solos, allowing the student musicians to express themselves in this edgy setting. 

"The Quintessence" was a lead alto saxophone feature, by the great Quincy Jones. It featured lush horn lines and a soaring lead saxophone part. The horn backgrounds provided such support to the song, and really highlighted the loving alto saxophone melody. 

The Youth Jazz Orchestra ended their program with "Oye Como Va" by Tito Puente. The orchestra had previously played this piece at the New England Conservatory "Feast of Music", which is an annual gala by the Conservatory to raise money for scholarships. The orchestra's faces were filled with joy, while they sang the lyrics to "Oye Como Va". 

Final Thoughts:
The YJO in Jordan Hall
I feel very lucky to have had the experience to play with such talented people in high school, and to learn from Ken Schaphorst at the New England Conservatory. By being surrounded by jazz at such a high caliber on my weekends, I have grown immensely, and I am sure these skills will help me in my pursuit of music. This group wasn't only educational though- it was also fun, and I met many people. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Finding a Voice

Why does John Coltrane sound different than Sonny Rollins or Dexter Gordon? They all play tenor saxophone! How can one note sound so different from individuals playing the same instrument?

Every coming of age story addresses a character coming into their own, realizing their sense of self so to speak. This holds true within music, where artists seek to find their own voice. This is a combination of individuality and personal expression.

Finding a Voice

In this Ken Burns documentary segment, Burns states that jazz demands individual expression and selfless collaboration. Jazz changes everyday, just like humans continually change. "Jazz is the ultimate in rugged individualism...It doesn't matter how anyone else did it, this is the way I'm going to do it". 

Sonny Rollins talks about finding a musical voice. He says it is very individual, and everyone has their own sound. You need to get yourself to come out, and it takes time. You sound like you today, but you want to sound more like you, you want to be a better you. 

In this performance of "Body and Soul", Dexter Gordon exemplifies his personal voice on the tenor saxophone through his tone, phrasing, and demeanor. Personality is a large factor in finding a personal voice- Gordon was known as "Long Tall Dexter" or the "Sophisticated Giant".

Wayne Shorter gives great advice to develop as an artist. He suggests to read a lot, because Charlie Parker would improvise about life, people, stories, and you have to read to understand that. There is technique, but you need a story, and that story comes from your own life.

This NPR documentary discusses the tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. Turrentine personifies what an individual voice sounds like- he can play one note and you can tell it is him because of his sound which is heavily rooted in the blues. He considers sound, feeling, and emotion, the three staples to an artist, and he tries to play his feelings to the best of his abilities, without regard to genre, because it is "all music".

This reminds me of how and why we read. I know this video is about literature, but if you think of jazz as a language, the same ideas hold true. The author John Greene states that writers use certain techniques not to be analyzed, but so that the story can have a bigger and better life in your mind. I think music and literature are similar in the way that both artists seek to express their own voice and individuality. Some may argue that Hemingway is great because he wrote about what he experienced, just like Wayne Shorter is great because he plays what he has experienced.

Final Thoughts: 
Even though these artists play tenor saxophone, they all have an individual voice. This voice is a blend of all your experiences. What is most striking is that all of the greats say that in order to become a great artist, you must also become a fulfilled person- and that makes sense because jazz is about sharing a story. And the best stories are the ones that are personal, individual, real. Authors tell a story through words, jazz musicians tell a story through sound.

Read my previous blog on individuality in jazz!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Concert Experience- Christian McBride Trio

This past Friday night, May 16th, I went to Scullers to see the Christian McBride Trio. The show was out of this world, and I got to sit right in front of Christian McBride- the best seat in the club! 

Christian McBride is a bassist and virtuoso. He is a 3-time Grammy award winner and has appeared on over 300 recordings as a sideman. His trio also includes Pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr.

A Concert Experience- Christian McBride Trio

The concert showcased McBride's new album, "Out Here". Here's a video of McBride describing his new album. His website also describes his new release. 

The band played a mix of originals and standards. They started off with a bluesy number called "Ham hocks and cabbage". I liked how every song had a very clear melody, and intense rhythmic drive. When Christian McBride and Christian Sands played in unison, they fully complimented each other, and well it was on point. 

I also loved how when everyone took solos, they were very bluesy, rhythmic, and used strong melodic ideas. Sometimes their solos sounded like they wrote another tune- they were so strong and catchy! 

Sands communicated a lot during his solos. He seemed to play phrases to get a reaction out of the rest of the trio. And everyone else would smile and egg him on, like they were actually having a conversation. Now I always hear a lot about how jazz is communicative, but I rarely see something at the level I saw in McBride's trio. When the trio played, there seemed to be some kind of inside joke occurring, which as an audience member made me laugh along.
Meeting Christian Sands after the show! 
The band then went on to play Thelonious Monk's great song, "I Mean You". I am pretty much obsessed with listening to Monk, so this song made me very ecstatic to hear their interpretation of this edgy standard. I loved how the drummer, Ulysses Owens, Jr. would play a drum solo that sounded like a song. Most drummers I hear in concert do have amazingly rhythmic solos, but seldom do I hear a drummer that I can recognize a song in the midst of the cymbals and toms. 

During the concert, McBride won a "Bassist of the Year Award", from the Jazz Journalist's Association- and rightfully so, he is amazing! Throughout the entire concert he would play things that made me wonder, "I'm pretty sure that's impossible, but he just played the impossible!"

Meeting Christian McBride after the show! 
I learned that Christian McBride was in Freddie Hubbard's band for a couple of years. Consequently, McBride decided to honor Hubbard by playing "Povo", from Hubbard's album "Sky Dive". This song was groove based, and led to some funky solos. 

The trio then went onto a blazing fast rendition of "Cherokee". I was amazed not only by the sheer technique of the trio, but the tastefulness of everything they played. When they played fast runs they weren't done in a meaningless way- they built energy and led to strong melodic statements. 

The ballad of the night was "Who Can I Turn to When Nobody Needs Me". McBride joked about having to use a rental instrument when he goes on tour, and how he had never used the bass for the concert before. He got out his bow, played a couple of notes, and decided the bow worked well enough. Surely this display would concern some people, but what resulted was an incredibly haunting, genuine performance. McBride played the loving melody with the bow, which provided a deep, singing sound. Sands followed this with a lush, building solo, that seems to respond to the lyrics: "Who can I turn to when nobody needs me? My heart wants to know and so i must go where destiny leads me". 

I didn't catch the name of the last song, but it was burning I can tell you that! I had the immense pleasure of meeting the entire trio after the show, and I was astounded by how genuinely nice and encouraging everyone was. You can tell the happiness they emit through their music is a natural part of their personalities because they were all so happy. And being around that kind of happiness that night made me feel not only overjoyed, but energetic. I want to get to that level where my music makes people that happy, and makes people laugh.

Check out this awesome album! 
Final Thoughts: 
I don't listen to jazz because I like hearing the technique or harmonic substitutions, or any of the concrete kind of stuff- I listen to jazz because it makes me happy and it makes me laugh. Like I said, the concert seemed like I was part of an inside joke, and hearing those comical conversations made me laugh. 

I'm going to be bold and say that was one of the best concerts I have ever attended! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Is Sun Ra really from outer space? part 2

This Mother's Day, Sunday May 11th, I once again "traveled the spaceways" and ventured out to hear some Sun Ra music.

Sun Ra was an influential jazz composer, bandleader, pianist, poet, philosopher...the list goes on. He has a very iconic sound, and was one of the most controversial jazz musicians- he claimed he was from  Saturn for one. Sun Ra led his "Arkestra", and recorded many albums, with an ever-changing sound.

Sun Ra was born 100 years ago on May 22, 1914- which means that this year celebrates what would have been his 100th birthday. This time in celebration I went to "Sun Ra's Centenary: Space is Still the Most Colorful Place" presented at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Remis Auditorium. 

Notice the bright colors of the extravagant costumes!

For this concert, Grammy nominated trumpeter Tim Hagans joined the New England Conservatory Jazz Studies Chair Ken Schaphorst, with a 10-piece ensemble of NEC students and faculty to play Sun Ra's music. In addition to the music, MFA Egypt expert Lawrence Berman presented a lecture connecting ancient Egypt archeology with Sun Ra's eclectic Egyptian inspired life. 

Is Sun Ra really from outer space? part 2

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts
Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

The concert started off with a lecture from MFA Egypt expert Lawrence Berman. Berman connected Egyptian archeology with Sun Ra's life, and found a parallel between Sun Ra's eccentric lifestyle and Egyptian kings. It was quite intriguing to hear how many of Sun Ra's messages actually came from ancient Egyptian spell books and other sources. I learned that Egyptian kings would be buried in pyramids with many possessions, such as the boats featured in the picture to the right, in order to aid them in their venture to the sun to be with the Gods. 

After Berman's lecture, the musicians came out with extravagant garbs, like how Egyptian kings would dress. The concert program consisted of We Travel the Spaceways, Call For All Demons, Enlightenment, an Egyptian Spell, Love in Outer Space, Saturn, and Space is the Place.

Here's "Call for All Demons". I love the strong groove, and tight horn lines! 

What I love about Sun Ra's music is the fearlessness you hear in it- among the crazy costumes and eccentric references to outer space is a fearless, bold attitude in every song. Sun Ra's music allows the improvisers in the band to express their own individuality, ranging from harsh runs to subtle melodic ideas. Within each crafted song is room for each musician to be expressive, fearless, personal, and jubilant about the music and life itself!

I loved each arrangement of Sun Ra's music today. Ken Schaphorst said that Sun Ra would perform many of the same songs throughout his career, but change them quite often. This element of change, taking a song and transforming it to be fresh, was apparent in the music today. Each arrangement highlighted the happiness and danceable qualities of Sun Ra's music. 

Here's "Love in Outer Space". I love the rise and fall of the melodic line within the lyrics- it's almost hypnotic! 

A definite highlight of the concert was the "Egyptian Spell", which was performed by vocalist Nedelka Prescod and the ensemble, and was later joined by Lawrence Berman. This piece was actually an excerpt from Pyramid Texts spell 222 as written in the pyramid of Kind Unis (2353-2323 BC) at Saqqara. The vocalist sang the translation of the text, and Berman joined the group to present a transliteration of the Egyptian text. It was quite exciting for me to see a man so enthusiastic about ancient Egyptian art, archeology, and culture! 
Sun Ra Centenary concert
The concert ended with one of my favorites, "Space is the Place", which features a repetitive groove and lyrics: the phrase "Space is the Place" gets repeated many times creating a party-like atmosphere, with crashing percussion and bashing instrumental solos. 

Another thing I love about Sun Ra's music is, no matter how strange it gets, the central message to each song relates to peace, love, and even "Enlightenment"! The music is so full of a love for life- no matter what planet Sun Ra was from, he definitely had a great heart along with a crazy personality! 

Final Thoughts: 
Sun Ra Centenary concert
Personally, I would not equate "Mother's Day" with "Sun Ra"- the leader, Ken Schaphorst admitted that even he was skeptical about blending the holiday with Sun Ra's music, yet it was a "Sunday", like "Sun Ra", and in addition it was a "sunny" day. However, no matter what day of the week it is or what weather it is, Sun Ra's music lends itself to an enormous amount of celebration and jubilation- perfect for a holiday or a trip to travel the spaceways! 

Check out my last Sun Ra blog

A CD Experience- Pete McGuinness "Strength in Numbers"

Pete McGuinness playing trombone 
I am a huge fan of the big band sound. I love how it can capture such a variety of sounds, colors, and emotions. I also love how throughout the years, the big band sound has evolved to capture the essence of today.

Recently I have been listening to Pete McGuinness's new CD, "Strength in Numbers", which encapsulates the modern big band sound, blending the strong tradition with a strong personal sound.

McGuinness is a Grammy nominated composer and arranger, trombonist, and vocalist. In addition to appearing in over forty recordings, he leads his own groups, such as the Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra. McGuinness is currently the Assistant Professor of Jazz Arranging at William Paterson University.

Here's a YouTube video of the Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra live at the Blue Note playing his Grammy nominated arrangement of Smile.

A CD Experience- Pete McGuinness "Strength in Numbers"

Upon listening to the CD, I was amazed by the variety of sounds and textures McGuinness's Jazz Orchestra obtains. There seems to be a jubilance in each song, which highlights the group's tight sound as well as each soloist's individual voice. This jubilance is exemplified in songs such as "The Swagger", which employs interweaving lines and textures, building to an engaging and melodic baritone saxophone solo by Dave Riekenberg. There is a certain danceable quality apparent in each song, creating a fun, optimistic mood. 

This CD highlights the big band sound, while also featuring McGuinness's vocals on the tracks "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" and "You Don't Know What Love Is". McGuinness's vocal interpretation mirrors that of Chet Baker, with a cool, pure tone, but with his own personal twist. McGuinness's lyric interpretation is thoughtful, relaxed, but also emotionally intense. Each word flows out, with certain pin points to create a rise and fall, and to emphasize every consonant with a sense of urgency. McGuinness illustrates a mastery of story telling through his dynamic lyrics, as well as tasteful scat solos which build on the song, rather than drifting away from the context of the piece. 

My favorite song off of the album is McGuinness's beautiful and original arrangement of the song "Beautiful Dreamer". The combination of its high energy and buoyancy with the sweetness of the instrumentation, soprano sax, creates a lulling, joyous atmosphere. 

Check out the song Send Off which is the first track off of the album. I love this song for its rhythmic zest and conversational call and response qualities between sections of the band.
The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra

I was very fortunate to be able to interview McGuinness about his compositional influences, and his recent CD:
  1. Who are some of your main influences for composition? Are you mainly influenced by other jazz artists? How do you meld your influences to create your own unique voice
  Pete: I have been listening to many kinds of music all my life, but if we are talking about composing-arranging for the big band, then in the early days I was first struck by the Basie and Ellington Orchestras. Especially their recordings in the 1950s onward, as I enjoyed the more sophisticated time feel the bands and soloists played with (post swing ear). Ellington and Billy Strayhorn seemed very special to me. Real artists, not just arrangers. The arrangers for Basie were important too – Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Ernie Wilkins, Billy Byers, Sammy Nestico. Soul, blues and swing. All very deep in that tradition. Then later, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Bill Holman, and lastly, a former mentor of mine Bob Brookmeyer, who really got me to think much more as a composer rather than simply an arranger. Of course, any/all other musical influences may be a part of the process. I love Brazilian music, much western classical music (my piece “Spellbound” is inspired in part by Claude Debussy’s sense of harmony). My creative process comes for making basic decisions about what I am going to write – general mood, style, tempo, then picking specific small elements to work with over the course of the piece, even if that also ends up being part of a song-type structure, finally then letting all my past influences inform me sub-consciously to work toward the goals I have set up for the piece – to “make the point” I have decided upon for it. Finally, I look back on the various drafts of the work and try to make sure the overall story and form of the piece is balanced – reuse of material to help support a general feeling of overall identity, with surprises along the way to keep the listener’s interest. Is it the right length? That is my process. Start basic and vague, and work my way in. Sort of like seeing a sculpture inside the block of stone, chipping away gradually.
2. What aspects do you like about the big band sound in particular? Do you like writing for a particular section of the band? 
Pete: The true joy of writing for big band is the sheer variety of textures one can create to present the level of drama any given moment: the power of the full tutti horns when a big impact is desired, the thin/rich sound of a certain group of instruments in unison (i.e. Sub tone saxes), introducing the various respective sections in soli spots as the melody moves around the band, creating new colors by combining horns from different sections all of these ideas and so many more are what make writing for 13 horns (!) and a rhythm section so much fun. I particularly enjoy writing for the woodwinds now too (flutes and clarinets) - they can bring a delightful texture to help the mood of certain pieces in a way saxes never can. This was inspired by all those great Gil Evans charts, and how the woodwinds are combined with muted brass. Colors! Clause Ogermann has a great feeling for woodwinds in his orchestral work as well. Just lovely.
3. Are there any particular challenges with being a vocalist and instrumentalist? Do you find that one helps the other, or that you approach each differently? I noticed you are influenced vocally by Chet Baker.
Pete: Chet was so important to me when I was younger as a role model for making the music personal no matter how it got out – singing or playing. The lesson his music taught me was is that many times it can be thought of same way, even if delivered by different mediums – at least to a point. A voice and a horn are indeed different things, but there can be similar ways of thinking about music when performing with either.

4. How do you balance keeping your music current, while still paying homage to the big band tradition? I noticed on "Strength in Numbers" you arranged a couple of standards and gave them new life- do you find this aspect of arranging important?
Pete: As far as being “current”, I write for my experience and my heart, while recognizing it is not 1954 but 2014!  I have studied a great deal about harmony and modern big band orchestration, but can always learn new things. When I arrange standards, I do like to give an unexpected spin to them – keeps things interesting. I learned that from listening to Bill Holman’s music. Brookmeyer’s last CD is all arrangements of standards! Check it out. It is all about paying tribute to great songs in a personal and often clever way. With other people’s original material, it can be tricky. A few years ago, I was asked to write for Dave Liebman, and wanted to give him something that would stretch me a bit. So, I studied a couple of Maria Schneider scores to clarify some orchestrational effects I was reaching for. It worked out great. The writing was still “me”, but I grew as a result and Liebman was very happy. Thanks Maria! I am often influenced by what other new writers are doing (like Maria and others), but I always write as I feel at the moment, not to simply be “current” for its own sake. There are way too many writers that do that now. That can sound very transparent.

5. Is there any advice you give to the musicians in the jazz orchestra while improvising? How do you balance keeping the intention of your piece while also giving freedom to the musicians in your band?
Pete: First off, I assign solos in my band that I feel are a good fit for the special strengths each player has. Case in point – one of my trumpet soloists is Chris Rogers, son of the great latin-jazz trombonist Barry Rogers. Chris has been around the highest level of latin jazz for much of his life. I have a mixed meter cha-cha like chart on my CD called “Spellbound”. I immediately thought of Chris for a solo on that cut and he delivered! Also, my drummer and one of the tenor sax players are not only good friends but are quite often a music team outside my band - “The Send-Off” is basically a feature for the two of them to interact. I have a lot of faith in all the soloists of my band and they always deliver. I am very lucky indeed!

6. What is the main difference between arranging and composing original material for you? Do you find that they require similar or different skills?
Pete: perhaps my favorite form of writing is arranging – when you pick a song people generally are familiar with, you immediately have a relationship with the listener. You then can expose them to the way you feel about not only your special version of the song, but your vision of music in general. At least one chart at a time! Composition is a bit of a different challenge – you need to keep your material clear and moving forward in a logical manner, even as you take risks. If you piece is indeed quite original sounding (no recognizable song form, etc), the listener has much less to go compared to an arrangement. They can’t anticipate the future as they can with arranging and pay attention to other aspects of your creativity. A composer need to remember that. Keep them interested but never confuse them. A real challenge, actually a responsibility.

7. "Strength in Numbers" is your fourth release as a leader, and the second release from the Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra. How has your past experiences as a leader affected this album in particular?
Pete: I’ve been creating music for many years now. I feel the music on this CD is the best work I’ve done date, simply by virtue of having worked at this art and craft for so long. One gets more successful at expressing themselves over time, and can go deeper and try more things with more confidence. I hope that’s how people will hear this latest effort.

8. As a music educator at William Paterson University, what kind of advice do you give to young musicians starting in the jazz world, either performing or composing?

Pete: know the craft, but keep your own feelings about creativity close in your mind. Never, ever forget what moves you. It may be very individual and for many personal reasons, some not even related to music! I try to be careful about nurturing that. But not having good skills craft wise will limit how masterfully one can create what is in one’s mind. This is something I try to remind my arranging students at William Paterson, even the graduate students (we also offer a Masters in Jazz Composition-Arranging degree as well as house the Thad Jones archives) - Go back, walk in the shoes of the swing era writers (Fletcher Henderson, etc.)., then Duke and Strayhorn, the Basie arrangers, Thad, Gil, before roll-modeling the current batch of innovators. Yes, do that eventually, but do so with depth of knowledge. There is a REASON the “big band” is structured the way it is. It has a real history. If one were to study composing for the symphony orchestra, one would check out Beethoven before Berio (I’d hope!). I myself like having one foot in the past and one foot in the future (or at least unknown territory for me). A fun thing to straddle!

The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra will next appear at The Blue Note jazz club in NYC on Sunday May 25 – brunch sets at 11:30am and 1:30pm. Hope some of you can make it!
Final Thoughts: 
Check out this great CD
"Strength in Numbers"! 
Also check out McGuinness's last
album "Voice Like a Horn"! 
I am very grateful to be exposed to so much great big band music. I have had many opportunities to play in jazz big bands, oftentimes playing traditional big band literature or "classics", so I find it very exciting to listen to new arrangements and songs for big band. "Strength in Numbers" rekindled my love of the big band sound, with its danceable optimism and joy!  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Reasons why I love jazz: part 2

This past week, on April 30th, the world celebrated International Jazz Day.

With so many festivities, I wanted to take some time to reflect on why I love jazz.

I was inspired to make this blog from this video: Celebrate International Jazz Day

Reasons why I love jazz: part 2

1. I love jazz because jazz is a conversation

You can say we improvise conversations- we don't plan them out- and just like conversations there is a dialogue. I think it is amazing how I could just meet someone and hardly know anything about them, but I can play jazz with them and have this deep conversation. People that are shy become extraverted, and people that are private start to share with you. There is expression, and this dialogue could be as simple as a horn playing a rhythmic phrase and a drummer hitting his cymbal in response.

Here is an article explaining how the brain interprets jazz in a similar way to language. 

2. Jazz is a family: 
I would say I came to like jazz because the sound of the music, but I came to love jazz because of the people. With jazz, I have met so many amazing people that have not only taught me about the music, but about life. So many people within jazz are kind, caring, giving, passionate, dedicated, intelligent, and helpful. I love the fact that no matter where you are from or who you are, if you dig jazz, the jazz community will accept you. 

3. Jazz is social: 
I love jazz because it is an extremely social music, not only to play, but to listen to. When you go to a jazz concert, you are encouraged to clap, snap, dance, hoot, shout, etc.- the audience's energy contributes to the performance. If you like something, you can express it. 
While playing jazz, you learn not to just play something for the sake of playing or for showing off your technique- but to play something that sparks the rest of the band and the audience. A simple idea that gets repeated could cause the rest of the band to interact, and respond to what you said. 

4. Jazz is fearless

In this video Dee Dee Bridgewater says that when you listen to jazz you will feel like you can go out and there are no problems that are too difficult for you to solve- and I connect with this to a t. Jazz is a fearless kind of music, and by playing jazz I have learned to take more risks and become more comfortable with being myself. When I have a bad day, I can listen to jazz and know that yes, today has been rough, but I am strong enough, and brave enough to make the best out of it. 

5. Jazz is honest: 
Many people have said jazz is a music of freedom, of the people. And with that freedom comes honesty, authenticity, and individuality. Jazz can express a wide range of emotions. You can listen to the saddest ballad, the most jubilant up tempo tune, the most contemplative slow blues- and they all express honest emotions from humans in the moment. Each moment is special and holds its own feelings- jazz expresses the now

I think John Coltrane's version of "Body and Soul" expresses what I mean:

Final Thoughts: 
There are a million reasons why I love jazz but I'll say this- Some days seem impossible to get through, and some situations seem too hard to bare- but by finding and embracing jazz I have learned that I do have enough strength to make it through anything. 

Share in the comments reasons why you love jazz!