My Newfound Appreciation of Jazz

Terence Blanchard jazzstl.orgI have never been a fan of jazz. I’d roll my eyes at it in Spike Lee movies. I’d huff at it on Cosby Show episodes. My ear just wasn’t ready. The same way my taste buds haven’t matured enough to enjoy wine (unless it’s chocolate wine, which tastes like joy), my ears, I’m assuming, weren’t mature enough for jazz. Or my life didn’t require it. It also seemed to have a pretentious air that irked me. I just didn’t get it.

Every night I go to sleep to a mix of movies on my laptop because I am in constant need of some kind of noise. Not loud noise, just noise. (I also like the side-effect of weird dreams right before I wake up). This morning (yes, this very morning) I woke up to Queen Latifah’s, Just Wright. Specifically, the scene when Common takes her to the jazz club. What my ears heard was the sound of someone typing on an old school typewriter to music. Turns out it was the sound of the drummer alternating between clacking his sticks against each other and hitting the drums. That sound only lasted for a few seconds. But in my coming-out-of-dream state it seemed to last a lot longer.

The erratic, yet controlled nature of the other instruments flooded my senses, and I saw myself at a desk typing in a writer’s improvised rhythm. It was a gorgeous feeling. Full and thick with my entire world soaked in it. What used to sound like a cacophony of disjointed noises became a sound so beautiful that it brought me to tears.

The song is “HUGS (Historically Underrepresented Groups),” by Terence Blanchard. I just bought it on Itunes, as well as two other songs by him. The album version is smooth. But I’d still love to have the version in Just Wright, because it was live and had a different appeal to it. A rawness that has been polished by the formatted album.

So, of course that means one thing; at some point I’ll need to go to a live performance. At least one, to see if I can get through it. I do know myself well enough to know that it would be difficult for me to listen to more than an hour of it. It’s beautiful, but I love the idea of stability and a certain amount of predictability and it’s neither stable nor predictable. It would make me feel crazy after a while. Great for writing. Not great for being in public. I already have a hard time hiding my crazy, I don’t need anything forcing it out.

Or maybe I do.

Jazz has a lot of stuff happening in it. It’s sporadic and fat with ideas. It’s so perfect for keeping my imagination moving while writing. It’s everywhere while still thoroughly cohesive. It sounds like what’s happening in my head as I put my pen to paper, or fingers to keys. Or what’s happening when I’m making love. It’s the sound of thought. Pure thoughts turning into anything you want them to be. It has the cadence of someone oppressed, seeking freedom. Going every which way he can to become himself.  You can hear the original creators of this art in every note.

The other two songs I bought were, “Center Focus” and “Another Step.” There’s another one I want to buy but it’s on the album and I am too poor to buy the full album, LOL sad face.

On that note, I’m going to start my day’s writing with my new found friend.


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