Saturday, March 26, 2005

If I Fall Asleep, Blame it on This Music

Today's headline comes from a complaint by my 9-year-old daughter Kerstin, and indicates my passage into a new musical phase.
I generally listen to music in phases that can last up to a week or more. Often, the phases match my moods or reading material. I will listen to Indian film soundtracks for a week, then 1950s country music for a week, then 1960s Jamaican songs, and so on.
Yesterday I plunged into a jazz phase, much to Kerstin's chagrin.
It started when I checked out a Ralph Ellison book from the library. (Ellison's most notable work remains the 1952 novel "Invisible Man.")
"Living With Music" collects many of Ellison's considerable essays, reviews and fiction pieces concerning jazz.
A 1955 "High Fidelity" magazine piece by Ellison begins memorably:
"In those days, it was either live with music or die with noise, and we chose rather desperately to live."
I wish I could summarize my approach as succintly and elegantly!
Here is how Ellison describes a jazzman's approach to music and living:
"Life could be harsh, loud and wrong if it wished, but (jazzmen) lived it fully, and when they expressed their attitude toward the world it was with a fluid style that reduced the chaos of living to form."
Some day, perhaps, after experiencing the work of Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, Lee Morgan and others, Kerstin will begin to realize that jazz -- by reducing "the chaos of living" -- might not be the sleep-inducing irritant she so abhors.
Posted by Hello


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