Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reasons why I love jazz - Jazz Day 2016

International Jazz Day (IJD) is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) in April, and is held annually on April 30th. IJD was started in 2011 by UNESCO in order to celebrate “the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people.”

In order to prepare for IJD, and to celebrate JAM, I wanted to share some reasons why I love jazz along with some of the jazz I love.

John Coltrane

To learn more about IJD, click here. To learn more about JAM 2016, click here.

Watch Dee Dee Bridgewater and Anat Cohen discuss how jazz is a feeling:

Reasons why I love jazz - Jazz Day 2016

1. "Si tu vois ma mère" by Sidney Bechet

Because Bechet plays as if he's an opera singer. Because the song is flowing, and sentimental. Because in his autobiography Treat it Gentle, Bechet says, "I can be off alone somewheres, I can be sitting here and I can be sad and lonely, but all I got to do is think of some melody and I'm feeling better off."

Listen to "Si tu vois ma mère":

2. "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" by Coleman Hawkins

Because "music should always be an adventure." Because of Hawkins' lush tone and vibrato. Because the melody calls out as if someone is talking to me. Because it exudes a warmth and tenderness that makes the music breathe. 

3. "My Foolish Heart" by Bill Evans

Because it's introspective. Because it's lonely yet self-assured. Because Evans brings an aura of simplicity to the most complex phrases. Because of his touch of the piano and how each chord rings out like a bell. 

Listen to "My Foolish Heart":

4. "Skylark" by Ella Fitzgerald

Because of the beautiful arrangement with bird-calls and strings. Because Ella's ability to tell a story as if she lived through it herself. Because of the lyrics: "Oh skylark, I don't know if you can find these things, but my heart is riding on your wings."

Listen to "Skylark":

5. "I Hear A Rhapsody" by John Coltrane

Because of Coltrane's intensity and giant tone. Because of how the rhythm section highlights every line with accents. Because of the urgency in the song, and how each line pushes forward like a waterfall. 

Listen to "I Hear a Rhapsody":

6. "Peace" by Ornette Coleman

Because jazz can be music for peace. Because of how Coleman's tone seems to cry out for change. Because music doesn't need to have rules to be beautiful. Because self expression comes from internal freedom and strength. 

Listen to "Peace":

7. "Over the Rainbow" by Dave Brubeck

Because the song is so light and airy. Because Brubeck and Paul Desmond seem like one person joined by sound. Because the melody carries such depth. Because the song seems to be narrating a lifetime of joy. Because Desmond's tone is birdlike and crisp. 

Listen to "Over the Rainbow":

8. "Lush Life" by Billy Strayhorn

Because of the integrity and truth behind each word Strayhorn sings. Because of the honestly and absoluteness of Strayhorn's shaky vocal. Because of the vulnerability of the lyrics: "Life is lonely again and only last year everything seemed so sure." 

Listen to "Lush Life":

9. "Sophisticated Lady" by Duke Ellington

Because of the way the song paints a picture of sophistication. Because of Harry Carney's deep tone and complete jubilance. Because of the intimacy and connection between Duke Ellington on piano and Harry Carney on baritone saxophone. 

Listen to "Sophisticated Lady":

10. "When You're Smiling" by Louis Armstrong

Because Armstrong is a pillar of hope. Because even with everything Armstrong had to go through to become an international star at that time, he carried himself with joy. Because, at the end of the day, smiling is what lets us get by. Because "when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you."

Listen to "When You're Smiling":

Final Thoughts: 
Jazz means so much to me, and I am so grateful to share it with all of you. Happy Jazz Appreciation Month, and International Jazz Day! 

Leave a comment down below: why do you love jazz? 

Louis Armstrong

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Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.  

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