This being my maiden voyage as a blogger I feel compelled to explain how I became a Jazz musician. As usual when discussing ones history it is difficult to pinpoint a beginning. I could tell you about my earliest experiences listening to music, which involved listening to B96 on a hot summer day in the mid 90s. Or I could begin with my earliest perceptions about Jazz, which involved my father playing, god help me, smooth jazz while reading his daily paper. Or perhaps I should begin with my discovery or rock, the rebellion, the distortion, the mosh pits… All these experiences helped shape who I am today. However, when it comes to Jazz, it starts with Coltrane.
It was my first day at Harold Washington College and my nerves were edgy to say the least. It had been years since I set foot in an educational institution and the first time I would actually be making an effort. The clique question were running through my mind. What will the professor be like? Can I handle the work load? What if I can’t do this? Music theory was my second class of the day and I was excited to be taking my first collegiate music course. The teacher was Prof. Biggerstaff a young bearded bass player who had just begun teaching. I felt nervous, but confident in my ability to succeed in this class. I had reviewed the Kostka and Payne Tonal Harmony book and felt more than ready for an elective level theory course. Still, my anxiety was at an all time high waiting for our first assignment to be given. Prof. Biggerstaff started by playing different styles of songs and having us right down our thoughts on the records. He wanted to get a feel for our musical interests but in my case he introduced me to one.
My first day jitters were only intensified by my anticipation for the song to begin. Jimmy Garrison began to play bass as I eagerly waited for the song to fully emerge. Then, Coltrane breaks the tension with such ferocity that I instantly became clear-headed. Coltrane played with such energy he was not just blowing air into his tenor saxophone he was giving birth to Jazz for me. Elvin Jones was playing drum patterns I never though possible, and Mccoy Tyner’s voicings made me want to throw away my Hanon exercises.
I was comfortably numb. Interaction and creativity was occurring so quickly I became overwhelmed and I just let the tidal wave of sound consume me. Before that day I thought Jazz was Kenny G. I was left speechless…I’m still speechless. When I turned in my paper the only words I could muster to write down were “Great tune”. I couldn’t keep up with the form, I didn’t know when solos began or ended, I just knew it was unlike anything I had ever heard before. Shortly after that day Jazz music became my creative passion. I was like a foreigner sampling a different culture of cuisine at a local market. I tried it all: Coltrane, Mingus, Evans, Ellington, Brubeck, my hunger and curiosity was only matched by the different artists and styles I had yet to discover.
Now here I am, a couple of years later, playing Jazz and starting a Jazz blog. This blog will serve as another medium I will use to discuss my studying of Jazz here in Chicago. I will post all things Jazz from venues to hear live Jazz, record stores to shop at, analysis of recordings, and everything else in between. I hope you will find this blog enjoyable, informative, and inspiring as I continue my journey into the Jazz world. And, as always, thank you for staying in The Jazz Loop.