Friday, July 15, 2016
I like jazz. I love jazz.
Here is just one thing I love about jazz:
We have a jazz public radio station here. Sometimes I listen to it when I am driving in my car. It is an extremely good station when music is playing. When people are talking it is a mixed bag. The way some announcers struggle to read news copy or to make simple announcements suggests to me that maybe it is a college station. But then another time that I tune in and I hear talking it might be a smooth talking guy who seems to know everything ever about jazz, past or present, and is happy to tell me all kinds of interesting things about it. So I never know. But the music is always, always great.
I love jazz, but I am not well versed in it. I mainly just know the famous parts, and some of the semi-famous parts. I'm always ready for something new and wonderful, some titan of jazz I've never heard of, or some dazzling group that somehow slipped me by. Luckily, on this radio station, I hear artists like that all the time.
I turn on the station. "Oh my god!" I cry. "This is fantastic! Who is it? It must be some great legend of Jazz." So I eagerly await the announcer who will tell me who is playing.
Perhaps it is some gorgeous vibes player, or the peaceful but deep piano music I am always looking for, like Keith Jarrett, but without the grunting. Or maybe it is some group where with each new solo I am crying out "Yes, this one! This!"
So the announcer comes on and says something like "And that was The Jimmy Mystics from their CD, Solitudes, recorded live in St. Paul.
And I'm like "Wow! I've never ever heard of them. How can I never have heard of this famous band that recorded a seminal masterpiece right here in my backyard?" If I can safely write the information down I do, but usually I just have to memorize it. So driving along I keep saying to myself "Jimmy Mystics, Jimmy Mystics, Solitudes." I get to my job and park, muttering the name of the band to myself. I avoid people as I race to a computer to look them up before I forget their CD title.
Nothing. No youtube. No CDs for sale. I dig deep. I find a couple of sideways, abandoned references to them. They're some band from eight years ago or something. Local. That CD was undoubtedly self produced as it exists for sale precisely nowhere. And that's about it. End of the line.
So this is a thing I love about Jazz. That this, THIS, as brilliant and magical as it was, as utterly masterful as the musicians were, can fly that far under the radar. I love this.
Although I am aware that perhaps all those astonishingly accomplished and wildly unknown musicians are all a bit less enchanted by this delightful aspect than I am.