Jazz is a lost genre of music. I’ve found that when I talk to people about jazz, they always seem disinterested in this style of music.
Many people have written it off as a style of music not worth listening to because they have the misconception that it’s just music you hear at inconvenient times, such as in an elevator or when you’re placed on hold during a phone call. However, most of the time that music is just instrumental versions of pop songs.
There’s so much more to jazz than that. It’s a living body of music that gives off an energy you can’t find in other styles.
People should try to give jazz a chance and take a moment to really listen to it.
There’s a never-ending supply of recordings, both old and new, that people can listen to.
Don’t get me wrong: There was a time when I didn’t see jazz for what it is. Even when I was in high school jazz band, I didn’t like it. We also didn’t play true jazz music there. Instead, just like the infamous elevator jazz, we played instrumental versions of pop songs.
When I got to college, I was lucky enough to have a professor who was excited about jazz and pushed me to start listening to it more. The secondhand excitement was enough to convince me to take a closer look at real jazz music.
I honestly can’t thank my professor enough because jazz has become one of the biggest parts of my life. It’s the best part of my week. Every day, I look forward to playing and being part of the small jazz community at SVSU.
I went from only listening to recordings of the songs we were playing in jazz ensemble to discovering my own jazz interests. My Spotify playlists now consist of more jazz music than any other genre. I realized there’s more to the music than just notes on a page. Jazz is a living, breathing entity that fills my soul.
One of my favorite things about jazz is its focus on improvisation and personal style. Often groups will play the same jazz standards; however, every performance is bound to be different because of the artist’s interpretation.
If you were to listen to two different artists play the same song on the same instrument, both versions will be different from the other. This is because it’s the artists’ interpretation and personality coming out.
There’s nothing quite like going to see a jazz performance live. Each group has its own dynamic and way of interacting with its members. This is one of the best ways to experience jazz music.
Often, performers will joke around with each other onstage and cheer each other on when improvising during a song.
I had the chance to see my favorite saxophonist, Branford Marsalis, perform live with his group, and it was amazing. The way they all communicated onstage made for a show you didn’t want to look away from.
When you see a good big band or jazz group perform, you get to see into who those people are. It’s as though they’re sharing a personal part of themselves with you. They make you want to be a part of their dynamic and have the confidence to be as vulnerable as they are in that moment.
Listening to jazz is all about feelings. There’s nothing quite like the musical experience that it gives you. There’s this rush of energy that takes you to another place.
Jazz musicians are some of the most talented people out there. They have such a dedication to their art form and such a deep love for it – it’s inspiring. They’re creating music on the spot and in the moment. They’re expressing themselves, and it’s beautiful.
It’s such an accepting community, and jazz musicians still have so much respect and reverence for the past greats while being excited about the new generations of jazz musicians. They want students to learn jazz and love what they’re doing.
So, no – jazz is not just elevator music. It’s emotions. It’s truth. It’s about being vulnerable and expressing who you are through your music.
There’s life to jazz. I just hope people might take the time to give it a chance and really listen to it.
Latest posts by Shelby Mott (see all)
- There’s more to jazz than people realize - 2 Feb 2020
- Jazz artist-in-residence performs Wayne Shorter repertoire - 10 Nov 2019
- Theatre students prepare for performance of ‘Proof’ - 29 Oct 2019