Liars and Geniuses – Thoughts on Live Jazz

There’s something about Jazz live performance that has bothers me and I think it’s the audience. It’s the beatific smiles on many of the faces that last through the entire performance – smiles that remind me of a congregation in a church that know that it’s the wanting to believe that matters most, not whether it’s true.

It’s the guy in the front row with his index finger at shoulder height pointed at the roof bouncing it back and forth to a rhythm all his own.

Jazz performance appreciation – to truly understand live jazz greatness when you see it in the flesh – is the epitome of musical achievement. To understand how a group of musicians anticipate each other’s switching from one complex time signature to another, move fluidly and rapidly between keys and throw in a little used mode to add some humor or a chromatic run which morphs into another key – or to understand when the musicians are reverting to a jazz standard or improvising something new and truly great – to understand all of this, you have to be an accomplished musician. Someone who has spent thousands of hours either studying or performing or listening.

I think those that claim live jazz appreciation are either liars or geniuses.

I listen to Rock.

One thought on “Liars and Geniuses – Thoughts on Live Jazz

  1. You are pretty close with your comments and insights on rock and jazz. It’s sort of like this– rock music is like fishing off a resort dock for $5 with power bait, everything done for you without your imagination. Improvisational jazz is when you get out of the car, find your own trail down to the river and climb in with your waders on and you have no idea what the fish will take. I suspect you appreciate the process of creating jazz, even if you don’t like the music all that much.

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