Flying with Jazz

The closer you get to people, the more they love it: Yet another concert ends with the musicians surrounded by people stomping and clapping and cheering and wishing the swing would never end — Moving to a higher ground. How Jazz can change your life. Wynton Marsalis & Geoffrey C. Ward

In my house, we listen to jazz all the time, to the point that it has become the soundtrack of our everyday life. Nevertheless, sometimes in recurrent things you can find magical connections. I recently remembered an anecdote from the Bird, Charlie Parker, when in 1973, being very young and barely understood as the young musician genius that he already was, he played a concert in Reno with the already big Jo Jones (drummer for the orchestra of Count Basie). Charlie Parker knew how to play, but he hadn’t matured his capacity lo literally fly, so at one point in the concert in which the tempo picked up, Parker lost the beat and Jo Jonas threw a cymbal at him from his drums so he would stop.

The experts say that this humiliating and disastrous moment was what made Parker become the Bird, and you can recall that this story is referred to in the movie Whiplash as a metaphor of the brutal and at the same time sublime experience that is music.

From there, I realized that there are various lessons to be learned from Jazz- or any other interest outside of the usual- to keep our imagination and creativity flowing.

Enjoy what we do. Jazz musicians simply forget the world when they are playing; they enter what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow: that place where everything evaporates, because we give ourselves and we enjoy every moment of the creative process. Real life has its routines and bureaucracy, and it’s not about being in ecstasy 24/7, but if we question how much we are enjoying what we are doing…

Improvise. The great minds of this genre learn the technique and then they forget it so that they can give themselves to the rhythm and to the experience, and so that they can dare to improvise, throw themselves into the unknown without any rules, and then, reach magical results.

Admire other´s work. ¿How many times do we stop to really appreciate, understand and admire the work of our colleagues and competitors? An experience that can without a doubt, open our eyes to new ways of thinking. The best jazz musicians have always connected, admired and constructed on the achievements and style of contemporary musicians and the musicians that came before them.

Redefinition through time. We are talking about jazz, but really there are many styles in this genre that are very different from one another but that maintain an essence: the central instruments and rhythm. From classical jazz, and New Orleans jazz, Swing, BeBop, Soul Jazz to Free Jazz, which is a complete lunacy that I am still trying to decode, each step marks a creative adaptation of the genre to the times it faces.

Charlie Parker was able to fly through Jazz, and at the same time gifts us with great inspiration for life.