Jazz Philosophy Return to Home
Music, as I see it, is the artists vehicle for the expression of his innermost being. Jazz is extraordinary in the sense that the spontaneity afforded the artist through improvisation provides him an almost fluid connection to his unconscious and spiritual self. What is it that touches us deep inside when we hear an inspiring piece of music? Is it that the performer, composer has unlocked some eternal secret from deep inside of our psyche? True; it is the gifted artist who can transform his instrument, using the language of improvisation, into the words of God himself as a prophet does, but only if the listener has the awareness to perceive this connection to the universe.
Though my music cannot be considered popular; I believe that it crosses over to the listener despite its rhythmic and harmonic complexity. It seems to me that in these times there's not such a big difference between popular music and Smooth Jazz. If you really listen there isn't a whole lot going on in the smooth jazz genre. There is a lack of spontaneity and soul as the music is delivered over a mundane, repetitive, rhythmic backdrop. I believe the educated and bored listener is looking for something more inspiring and creative. It is here that I think my music can bridge that gap. Compositionally I am searching for something new inspirationally, harmonically and rhythmically.
Smooth jazz and the syrupy popularization of jazz is the antithesis of jazz at
it's best. Bending the tradition and genre of jazz to suit the ear of the masses
is repulsive to me and anyone who understands it's essence. The best jazz
performances arise from deep inside of the artist's psyche. Those great
musicians who have evolved the face of jazz have had the special talent of
reaching deep inside of themselves, captivating the listener in the experience.
These greats, Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Coltrane, Pastorius, Adderly,
Brecker, Metheny, etc... possess this special gift. As the great Louis Armstrong
said, "Jazz is played from the heart, you can live by it, always love
I'll say this, I'll keep trying to create inspiring music. For the mean time, if there are no gigs with the masters, I'll just have to make my own by inviting the greats to play with The Last Word. This is one way to keep Jazz alive, though it may not be well. I believe sometime soon there will be a desire for more sophisticated, thought provoking music, that touches deep inside the soul.
The oral tradition of handing down the music from generation to generation from the old cats to the young cats seems to be gone. So is the chance to learn by apprenticing. With exceptions the music of today's younger players is not up to par with that of the masters. That's just the way it is in my opinion. What I hear today on most of the popular jazz stations is just plain uncreative or innovative.
Hal Galper was pretty bitter, man, in a recently published article! I guess he sums it up with this quote, "One of my long-time associates in the business once said that the inscription on his tombstone would read ("It wasn't worth it."). It is sad that appreciation of the great recordings is being replaced by the insipid and uninspiring crap categorized as smooth jazz. It is about time someone stands up and starts defending the sacred ground of creative music. Recently Pat Metheny went on a torrid rant about Kenny G's pretentious overdubbing on one of jazz's greatest recordings, Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World".