The true heroes of Jazz have long been gone. The last survivors are taking it very easy. Toots' harmonica was laid to rest last month. We are left with their enormous legacy of greatness. The stories of their struggles to make it big in a world where there was no place for them. But the cities that embraced their baldness and clear views towards the future, still owe a great deal to them. It all started with the Blues. Racial and social in the 20's caused a flow of Blues musicians from the South to the Windy City. And like Chicago mostly had its Blues joints and still draws a great deal of public to them, New York was named the Jazz capital. But it was not New York making Jazz, it was Jazz that made New York..
Jazz spans a range of music from ragtime to the present day and has proved to be very difficult to define. Of course I knew the songs of Holiday, Count Basie, Satchmo and Take 5 by Brubeck, but I only got IT after seeing Jazz by Ken Burns. It must have been in 2001. I had an internship with a small company in Des Plaines, Illinois. 1440 S. Leavitt Street was where I took my residence. In a turn of the century residential area called Wicker Park, containing all the grace I expected in this part of the Windy City..anyway. One night I was watching PBS and it was on. Ken Burns' Jazz. Baffled and amazed I watched all the episodes and simply felt a richer man. I started to dive into records stores on Milwaukee and North, got into Blue Note and bought some literature. Little by little now I started recognizing the greats and the appreciation only got bigger and bigger.
Liking music is only a start in exploring it, but I cannot remember having any difficulties in creating mental family trees of Rock, Grunge or even Blues. But Jazz took me to a much higher level in exploring and understanding it. Still I hear people putting the style down. And perhaps for all the good reasons. It is in my opinion a very divers genre. Simply because it is not just guitars or synths. The sound comes from drums, brass, strings, ivory and..air. Just listen to Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and Count Basie and be mesmerized by their way of talking through an instrument.
As it is not the intention of Eksturlecture to put a thought into the reader, but I do try to give some direction once in a while. Maybe it will give you as much pleasure as it gave me. Mentally and musically. There is so much more to explore, but you need to start somewhere. Only then the Meaning of Life starts to make sense..
In 1960, photographer William Claxton and noted German musicologist Joachim Berendt traveled the United States hot on the trail of jazz music. The result of their collaboration was an amazing collection of photographs and recordings of legendary artists as well as unknown street musicians.
The book Jazzlife, the original fruit of their labors, has become a collector’s item that is highly treasured among jazz and photography fans. In 2003, TASCHEN began reassembling this important collection of material— along with many never-before-seen color images from those trips. They are brought together in this updated volume. Jazz fans will be delighted to be able to take a jazz-trip through time, seeing the music as Claxton and Berendt originally experienced it.
So all you Hep Cats, Vipers and Alligators get down to it!