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Music Is Subjective But Is Jazz?

Music Is Subjective But Is Jazz?

Music is subjective, I say that all the time. I mean look at all of the misguided people out there that like Rush. (just kidding people…..) Musical taste change all the time, I know mine has. In my younger days I was really into The Beach Boys and then The Beatles came along then that varied into the heavier bands like Cream, Deep Purple, and Zeppelin. Then at some point I was adding Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, Chicago, and Little Feat then things really changed when I saw Bowie but what it shows is that not just one musical genre really defines your musical journey.

What brings me to this muse is my granddaughter recently visited me and was going through my vinyl and asked if she could take a few home, 65 albums later she really upped her collection. It started out with all my Beatles albums (including my sacred copy of the White Album I bought the day it came out), Queen, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Bowie, Pink Floyd and everything else you could think of that she liked. A few times we would come across an album, and I told her you really need to take this album just to have them in your collection. Albums like Sinatra – Live At The Sands, Grateful Dead – American Beauty, Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates, Tom Waits – Closing Time and the album that started me thinking about doing this story, John Coltrane – A Love Supreme.

Why that album? Because like I said music is subjective and musical taste change all the time. For me, Jazz took me a very, very long time to acquire the taste but when I did, man what an awaking.

That album “A Love Supreme”, I picked it up at Bandstand Records at Southgate around ‘75 or ‘76 only because the girl working there told me I really needed to listen to it and she was just so cute, so I bought it with the other albums I went there to buy and never listened to it. Over the next few months I would stop in to pick up the latest album by Genesis, Eagles, Stevie Wonder or Pink Floyd and she would always be there and try to turn me on to Miles, Monk, Bird and Charlie Parker and needless to say my collection of jazz records grew with each smile from her. Again they all went on the shelf never seeing the light of day. After Bandstand closed and she left my life forever, sigh….I would occasionally pick up a jazz album, I guess out of habit as I still never listened to them.

One day about thirty years after that first smile, I was looking for something to play and I came across one of the albums I had bought from her and thought “what the hell” give it a listen. It was “A Love Supreme”. I lit up a little something, I sat back and listened to something I didn’t understand, the refrains, the style, the freeform of the music but the taste finally hit. This was different, this took me places I hadn’t experienced before musically.

This wasn’t the first time I ever heard jazz, I worked jazz concerts before. I saw Miles in ‘74 at the Allen Theatre and it was one of the stranger shows I ever worked. Not many people there, some guy who brought his own horn trying to play along with Miles until he was thrown out and I couldn’t figure WTF was coming off that stage. I didn’t understand the music. I was used to rock and this was foreign and at that time it was something my ears didn’t care for.

Miles Davis 1974 Allen Theatre poster courtesy of Raw Sugar Art Studio (rawsugarstudio.com)

But that night with “A Love Supreme” on the turntable, things changed. I listened to those albums by Monk, Miles and Bird. It opened up new lanes to Bob James and Earl Klugh, Spyro Gyra, Weather Report, Return To Forever to name a few. It took awhile but I was there.

Sitting there with my granddaughter and handing her that album, I told her it might take decades to get around to the album like it did me but when you do you’ll know if it’s time.

I don’t think she listened to it yet but at least I got a text from her saying she loved the Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates album. That put a smile on my face.

One step at a time….

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