I’m not a Jazz connoisseur by any means. I own a handful of CD’s, and I’m not current on the whole ‘hipster’ scene, but I have enjoyed the genre for some time now. I tried to think back, to recall just when it was I acquired a taste for Jazz, considering my younger years were spent listening to Genesis and Pink Floyd. Somewhere, on the journey to adulthood, my horizons expanded.
Writing was the catalyst.
It transpired when I first sat down with the dream of writing long fiction. Music is inspirational, like a shot of Absinthe for the muse, but for me personally, only certain genres enhanced my creative flow. Through trial and error I quickly found that rock and roll, and more specifically anything with lyrics, did more to disrupt my rhythm, than it did to enhance it. My mind, when writing, looks for any excuse to wander, to disengage –and not in a productive ‘rabbit trail’ sort of way, more so in a ‘what am I doing later, and do I need more beer’ sort of way.
I quickly changed gears, nullifying my mind’s ability to wander, and switched to Classical, eventually broadening my scope with the addition of Instrumental Jazz. My music ratio, whilst writing, morphed into a 2 to 1 mix, two parts Classical to one part Jazz.
As years passed, my love of calm, mind-soothing music transformed from a simple writing tool, to a life tool. I found that listening to Classical and Jazz music in the car was an ideal way to lower stress and maintain a positive focus (especially when flipping someone the bird). With limited commercial interruptions, and minimal DJ jabber, my mind was left to wander, to fantasize, to dream. Living in Ontario I was fortunate to have one of the only 24-hour all Jazz radio stations in North America broadcast out of Toronto, back before satellite and internet-based radio took off. 91.1 Jazz FM, still on the air today, consistently played the greats, both contemporary and classics, and no smooth jazz. While I don’t hate smooth jazz, I’d rather leave that music on the elevator. No offence Squidward.
Despite being labelled an ‘old fart’ by my wife for my music choices, the habit stuck. To this day I listen to Jazz daily, and though I always find time for Peter Gabriel, R.E.M. or Jimmy Buffett, my writing time, and the bulk of my driving time, remains lyric-free.
So, it was the pursuit of the written word that spurred on my love of Jazz.
Or was it?
It wasn’t until recently I made a significant discovery. One of my all time favorite Christmas specials growing up was ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the soundtrack is all Jazz based. In fact I regularly listen to the CD over the holidays, and traditionally always during Christmas Eve dinner. Without realizing it, Vince Guaraldi’s compositions had ingrained themselves into my psyche as a child, only to be reawakened in adulthood. Not so unusual. Experiences we share as children often sculpt our futures, some long forgotten, but forever entrenched in our makeup.
I loved the Peanuts, and Jazz music was the Peanuts.
I had my answer.
A third piece of the musical puzzle surfaced.
Some 20 years ago I was an usher in a friend’s wedding party. I’ve been in several bridal parties, each one special in its own way, and this one no different; a lavish, catered affair, 300 guests and live music. I recall as I sat at the head table during dinner, a friend nudged me, pointing over to the 3-piece Jazz ensemble playing in the background, and whispered two words.
And I knew instantly what he meant.
A smile formed on my lips and my eyes widened. I suddenly realized why that particular moment seemed surreal, enhanced somehow, more than just a snapshot in time.
Without realizing it, my mind’s eye had been transported to another time, to a distant memory, both hazy and crystalline at the same time.
Only it took some prompting before my conscious became aware.
My favourite Peter Sellers movie.
The background music I’d been subconsciously listening to over dinner, exactly mirrored a classic scene from the movie, the tune identical to the one I so fondly remembered. In the film, Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers) goes about ravaging a highbrow Hollywood Dinner Party, serenaded by the eloquent stylings of a 4-piece instrumental Jazz band.
I watched ‘The Party’ every chance I could growing up. I often thought that if I could be magically transported to any one party, anywhere, past or present, real or otherwise, it would be that one.
The magic of music.
And there you have it. Three explanations, one result.
And while I realize the title ‘Jazz Writer’ is a bit of a stretch (considering I’d evolved into more of a Classical/Jazz/New Age/Meditation Writer), I couldn’t bring myself to abandon the original graphic I designed.
So ‘Jazz Writer’ it remains.
What about you?
Does music ignite your creative soul? Some relaxing piano, the Blues, or Bieber?
Love to hear about it.
Until next time,