August 20, 2009

Latin Jazz

I simply love music, the song I'm singing, the sound someone else is making, the brashness of a new trumpet player slogging through the new-to-him notes, wafting in my window, all of it. I grew up surrounded by music and especially the music of parents singing with the HiFi or the radio. In the kitchen, from the bathroom, filling the car. Music. In that prehistoric pretape era, we were the car singers. Dad had long lists of songs that didn't require a radio and very often were followed with the slick segue, "And then I wrote..." standards, sea shanties. The challenge was, of course, to know each word, each note and to find a place in the harmony. Traditional American songs, the kind Dan Zanes, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen serve up with such generosity. Men knitting with the threads of the country and my family history. We listened to the jingle the rumble and the roar as the Wabash Cannonball, all verses, filled the station wagon or the Jag roadster. No matter the car, the soundtrack was fabulous.
Dad's dad, my mystical Gramps, drove a T-Bird and in drives back and forth to his house, opened the door to classical music for me. I sat at his side, in my bucket seat, listening to the different symphonies offered on the radio and was completely taken by the intricate dance of harmonies in Corelli's Christmas Concerto and Handel's Messiah.
When given the option of choosing a musical instrument to play, I jumped at the chance to play the strings. Which began a journey of unfolding sound that continues. Whilst majoring in music, I walked into a rehearsal hall with friends to listen to the Studio Jazz band rehearse. In that moment, Dad's Dixieland jazz became the music of foundation.
Which brings me to Latin Jazz. We are a family of iPod holders. Each one of us has their collection of songs we want to hear and love to play for each other. A battle can ensue over who gets to connect and control and when there's more of this business than I find enjoyable, we turn to the car radio and very often to jazz. Our particular jazz station, the only jazz station we have, seems to have a soft spot for Latin Jazz. I seem to too. Maybe its the rhythm of the timbales, the congas, vibes or the trumpet guys singing punctuations. It moves me. There is something inclusive that reaches through. It can be Arturo Sandoval or Antonio Carlos Jobim. The music never notices that I'm a classically trained violinist. It just floats in and asks me to join in the samba.
How beautiful. How lovely. And here, we're called to stop being where we are and move.

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