“Neither Saccharine Nor Sour”

An e-mail from a friend passed on to y’all for more jazz consideration.

Perhaps the best (and most enjoyable) way to explore whether jazz is by its nature gloomy, or whether it expresses a range of emotions, is to listen. I can name a number of jazz pieces reflecting the darker nature, but here are a few listening ideas for the brighter:

- Almost anything by Cannonball Adderly…especially when joined by his brother Nat on cornet. Joyful and ebulent without giving up any melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic sophistication.


- Django by the Modern Jazz Quartet. On first instincts, a dirge would not seem to be the best example. The tune starts slow to state the melody, moves to a double time (twice as fast), with a second double time showing up in the string bass as a wonderful groove. The tune returns to the original slow tempo, but with warmth and appreciation. (For those unfamiliar, this is a rememberance of the great gypsy jazz guitarist, Django Reinhart)

Like most well-developed music genres, many artists (composer or performer) that are beyond category (to use Duke Ellington’s phrase) don’t sit in a single emotive rut. Neither saccharine nor sour, they choose to reflect the bittersweet of life (that is as old as bitter herbs and honey).

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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