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there is jazz…


…and, then there is jazz.

Walking up Bourbon Street this past October, I’m surprised by the loud sounds. It’s jazz. But it’s too pumped up for pleasure. Having grown up in a suburb of New Orleans, I’m not a newbie to the surroundings. My memories of Bourbon Streets contain sounds of people talking, music filing out from the clubs in various tones and color but never too loudly, sales people standing by the door of their business and trying to get passer bus to stop in for a hurricane, a t-shirt, a daiquiri, a gawdy paraphernalia…

The too-loud-for-my-ears brass sounds drown out all the other noise… and along with it, my interest in soaking up the “no culture” culture of Bourbon Street.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in jazz, memory, New Orleans, sound

 

jazz everywhere


I type in “jazz” in the books section of amazon.com and the results range from works of fiction, history and theory of jazz, how to play jazz, books about jazz albums, photographs of jazz musicians, and more. I brows “Jazz” by Toni Morrison, a story of crimes of passion, and consider developing a blog based on the book. But will it really be about jazz and besides, it’s set in Harlem in New York city and I want to explore New Orleans’ jazz.

I decide that history of jazz is perhaps more appropriate and find a book that has several good reviews. It is named, appropriately enough, The History of Jazz. A quick look shows that the history starts in New Orleans.

So near and yet so far… all those years of growing up less than ten miles away from New Orleans and choosing to ignore jazz. Now that I’m living many miles away in San Francisco, I start my journey into the story of jazz, starting in New Orleans.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in jazz, New Orleans, sound

 

Where is the jazz?


A lone man stands against the wall, one foot up on the wall, knees supporting the saxophone in his arms. The next instant, a haunting sound floats out of the instrument.

The scene is so common in New Orleans that it has become one of the cliche images that represents New Orleans jazz in illustrations, paintings, and movies. It was a new experience, however, when I first encountered the sound as a 16-yr-old. I lived less than ten miles away in a suburb but New Orleans was a different world. The sax, the man, and the sound pervaded my senses and became my first memory of this city.

Jazz was also a different world. I filed away the man and his music until college where I briefly dated a trombone player who played in a jazz band, I went to all the touristy jazz places in the city with my fellow students at Tulane University in New Orleans, and attended sporadic live jazz and blues concerts. Yet, the spirit of jazz did not enter my music consciousness. I was obsessed with the poetry and angst of The Smiths, the danceability of New Order, the artistry of Laurie Anderson, the craziness of the Talking Heads, the other-worldliness of Cocteau Twins…

Over the years, I continued to participate in jazz but only as a social activity, never with any authentic passion. Recently, I was listening to a jazz orchestra at Yerba Buena Park in San Francisco. The music reminded me of New Orleans and brought back memories that I had not realized I had collected. I find myself intrigued, finally, by the sounds that blossomed only ten miles away from my childhood home but did not find a place in my heart.

Thus, I’m exploring jazz here for the next few weeks and approaching it with a beginner’s mind…

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in jazz, listening, memory, New Orleans, sound