Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks for the Jazz Creators

Clifford Brown, American trumpet master, 1930 - 1956

I have so much to be thankful for, not least family and friends who are to a person of fine character, spirit, and intelligence, providing the foundation on which all material blessings are built and find meaning. On this Thanksgiving, I want to acknowledge my gratefulness for music in general and jazz in particular. My love for music has been steady for many decades; indeed, at this point the gifts of music appear to be inexhaustible. In this post I'll mention a few jazz-related reasons for gratitude.

1. I am grateful for the achievements of the jazz masters, for they taught me an important human lesson. When I was introduced as a teen to the music of Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins it hit me,(a white middle class kid) almost immediately that racism was a lie. Here was the most sophisticated, creative, and intelligent music I'd ever heard, and it was created by Black men and women. Case closed.

2. I'll always be grateful that Clifford Brown lived among us for a short but brilliant time. With every improvised solo he showed that inspiration is real, that technique can be the vehicle for almost impossible beauty. There's a reason that his most famous composition is called Joy Spring.

3. The Great American Songbook is a great gift to the world, and its jazz interpreters speak to me in a timeless way. If I had to choose one example, I would choose Ella Fitzgerald singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It's good to live in a world where this is possible.

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