“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).

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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