The Courage of Jazz

Duke Ellington 3April is Jazz Appreciation Month and April 30th is International Jazz Day.  I plan to celebrate.  Many great jazz musicians have enriched my life emotionally and spiritually.

It takes great courage to be a Jazz musician.  It’s a decision to take an uncharted, unscripted course every day of your life.  To live a life of constant improvisation.  To forsake financial security for the pursuit of unique personal expression.

What’s beautiful to me about Jazz is that it’s a perfect combination of solo’s and collaboration.  It’s the incredible, impossible magic of negotiating individuality while cooperatively creating magic with other equally individualistic artists.  Not ever knowing what the other players are going to do because all are improvising, taking turns stepping into the spotlight with a unique solo and stepping back to play beautifully supporting roles for a new solo.

It’s such a metaphor for life.

One of my favorites, Wynton Marsalis, wrote:

“The foundation of both jazz and democracy is dialogue, learning to negotiate your own agenda within the group’s agenda.  Jazz is like a good conversation.  You have to listen to what others have to say if you’re going to make an intelligent contribution.”

And you see it in action clearly in these YouTube videos.  Watch how they step back and showcase each other, how they appreciate and support each other’s solo’s, how they are united yet utterly, uniquely individual:

Wishing you many great solo’s and many great people to play with in the Jazz of your life!



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