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Jazz Attitude II

Today has been a wild day. Yet, a part of me lives for such days... it's part of what makes me human, what makes me an artist, and what makes me a scholar.

Simply as a formality, I will say that I absolutely endorse movement by performing musicians. I absolutely love Jazz, and I love what Jazz performers do when they play. It is a wonderful thing when musicians can "cut loose" and feel music in all its cathartic glory. I also love hearing applause when I walk onto the stage. It makes me feel accepted, supported, and welcomed. That's why we clap for people.

My last blog intentionally "pushed buttons." Way too many of them. And I didn't clarify my position very well. Frankly, I probably got what I deserved. I don't think anyone should have to answer to angry professors for things that happened on Facebook, but this is a new world of global connection—where everyone can read everything, and I should have been prepared.

Meditating on today's events, however, I realized something. "Damage control" is not all I'll be doing this week. I'll also be opening up lines of communication between professor and student, and between Jazz and classical. Students will talk about this. Professors will talk about this. Each of us will learn something wonderful about ourselves and about music.

I have already learned so many things, even from angry, scathing emails. I have learned wonderful, marvelous things that will change me as a musician and as a person forever. Isn't this what school (and life) is all about?


The Jazz Attitude

First of all, I would like to point out that I hate clapping for musicians when they arrive on stage. It doesn’t make any sense. They haven’t done anything yet. And, more importantly, they might not deserve applause.

But that’s not what this blog is about (as you can probably guess from the title). First, let me say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jazz. It’s a style of music that I enjoy greatly as a listener, and one which mystifies me both in theory and practice. Those of you who are jazz musicians, please comment. I am curious especially about your thoughts/justifications.

Why is it that jazz seems to elicit a complete lack of self-control and tact during performance? Why must jazz musicians dart about the stage, tapping their feet, mumbling nonsense to themselves, contorting their bodies, and making disconcerting facial gesticulations that warn either of sexual euphoria or epilepsy? In all other fields of music teachers emphasize physical balance and unobtrusive behavior which will focus the audience on the music—players even dress in black uniforms to minimize their physical presence.

I understand that jazz has an affect which implies “nonchalance.” But imagine a classical bassist who sang to himself while playing and thrashed around his body throwing it completely out of alignment and destabilizing his center of gravity. He simply would not be taken seriously. This type of behavior would be discouraged by any teacher. Yet in the jazz world, it seems to be encouraged.

I think it’s likely that I’m missing something integral here, and I am completely out of line. Tell me what you think.



It occurs to me (not so suddenly) that I want to be a certain kind of person. It just so happens that I am not that type of person.

Ought I be who I want (ought) to be, not simply who I spontaneously happen to be? A friend of mine once said that we are each trapped by our identity, and I told him I disagreed. I can be whoever I want.

It's time to start being who I want to be, and not who I am.

People are supposed to change people, and I want them to change me. Music is supposed change people, and I want it to change me. God is supposed to change people. I want to let Him change me, too.