The Jazz Writer

 

jazz_writerI’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.
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smooth_jazz_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?

Possibly not.

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.

guaradli

I loved the Peanuts, and Jazz music was the Peanuts.

I had my answer.

Until,

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.

The Party.

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.

the_party_jazz_band-2

‘The Party’, 1968.

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.

Jazz 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,

36 thoughts on “The Jazz Writer

    • You’re absolutely right! While I don’t generally write to rock music, listening to it often allows me to visualize scenes (more so for screenplay writing than straight fiction), but it does help, especially when trying to capture a certain mood or tone. Conversely, solo piano helps calm my mind and actually get the words onto the page.
      Cheers Lydia, thanks very much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Jazz! Its my all time fav – and now that you mention it I can clearly see “what’s his name” sitting at the piano in snoopy tinkling the keys. I usually have cool Jazz or smokey blues playing on my google play while I write…when I;m not listening to dark Viking – or even monks chanting 🙂 Billy Holliday is one of my favorites I actually splurged and bought all her Cds. Thanks for sharing the memories, now I have to go watch the Party again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jazz is super, but you’re right, I’ve slowly evolved into meditation and new age type music, and chanting monks would so work for me. A couple of years back I discovered the world of free internet radio via my Apple tv, literally 100’s of stations of any kind of music. I have a dozen programmed in, from Celtic, hymns, solo piano, and a host of others. Too much to choose from. Doesn’t seem all that long ago it was only an AM radio. Cheers Theresa, thanks for commenting, always appreciated!

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  2. Pandora has a category called “Film Scores” that seems to really help me concentrate. When I reading blogs, sometimes I listen to this. When I’m writing, it helps me to focus. Jazz is helpful in some ways, but I find myself toe-tapping, which can be distracting lol. I also listen to socially conscious rap music in between writing projects because it seems to help me formulate the right words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your mix, very diverse, which is exactly where you want to be. Different genres for different purposes. Lately, I’m finding solo piano works the best as I try to write, but for brainstorming, almost anything goes. I like the idea of ‘film scores’, I’m a visual person, so hearing some popular soundtracks would help spark the imagination. Thanks so much for commenting, always great to hear how/what works for other writers. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. smooth jazz, I’d rather leave that music on the elevator. Yeah! exactly I don’t like smooth jazz but classic big bang jazz or jazz in the 50’s and 60’s are cool. I listen to blues also. I still listen rock-n-roll from the 60’s to 80’s. Good one man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I know there’s a fan base for smooth jazz, there must be, but I don’t think I’ve met anyone in that group. They were clearly some cool cats back in the 50’s and 60’s especially, way ahead of the curve. Blues is inspirational also, depending on the tone or subject of the writing. Thanks for reading and commenting my friend, always appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m considered odd because I don’t value music as highly as most. I’d much rather listen to Radio 4 in the car or catch up with podcasts. I find comfort in the human voice and prefer listening to the spoken word.

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    • I worked with a guy years ago who insisted on having Talk Radio on all the time, it drove me nuts. Literally nuts. To this day I change the radio station every time the DJ or advert comes on.
      You’re preferences are probably more common than you think, I know a lot of people who prefer talk over music, especially sports fanatics. I guess it’s what makes us interesting. Cheers for the visit my friend!

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  5. Thank you, Mike, for the reminder to utilize the boombox that’s sitting in my writing room. I prefer music minus the words when I’m trying to write. I love classical music thanks to my husband who introduced it to me in the 1980’s. Jazz works too if it’s not too free; if it gets crazy, I get distracted by it instead of helped. When my daughter plays our piano, I often end up scribbling down poetry or prose that matches the mood of what she’s playing. I could listen to her own compositions all day long–but she’s a teen and doesn’t have time for that. 😉 I noticed I could only listen to lyric-free music when I was in labor—birthing sentences or babies requires deep concentration. Do you have an online link to classical music you’d recommend?
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like our tastes are quite similar. I also enjoy listening to our 13 year old play piano, but unfortunately, we opted for a new Yamaha digital grand, so more often than not she has it either so quiet, or through headphones, so I’m out of luck. Most of the classical I listened to while writing I owned on CD. More recently I’ve taken to listening to solo piano, I’ve found an online stream ‘whisperings solo piano’, the only negative is the free version has occasional advertising (I just turn the volume down on my laptop, then resume after a minute or so). My other option is my iPhone, I use the free ‘simple radio’ app, hundreds of stations/genres, although again, advertising may kick in depending on the station. If I come across any new ones, sans advertising especially, I’ll let you know. Cheers and thanks again for visiting!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just love the calm feeling i have whenever i listen to Jazz… Even better on a rainy day, when briefly my mind is taken away from weighing deadline and little things like rain droplets become beautiful to look at. I hope to see a Jazz band perform live one day …

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 60’s,70’s,80’s is my fav! Especially G&R, Bon Jovi, The Everly Brothers. I do enjoy Jazz too but usually after a long day out. This was a great post i enjoyed it surely. 🙂

    On a side note speaking of Jazz, we are a start up travel company and we’re currently promoting the Borneo Jazz festival in Miri, Sarawak in East Malaysia from the 12-13th May 2017. We’ve got some dirt cheap – packages. Come jazz as you are! . Do check it out on our blog 🙂

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    • Thank you, I appreciate the comment. Jazz continues to be one of my favourite genres when writing. With the number of internet based radio stations, never mind the thousands you can access via Apple TV, or android devices, there’s so much available to listen to, it’s overwhelming.
      Thank you for following. Your site is wonderful, love the title. Glad to connect!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Mike. I also write to music, and like you, find different types set a particular mood. Steve Winwood, Cream, Eric Clapton- I bounce and find the rhythm, then reinforce with the sound of keystrokes. Seriously, Layla’s guitar and piano solos have been instrumental (sorry for the play on words) in some of my posts. Really enjoyed reading about your process.

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