I listen to a fair amount of jazz but am not a jazz-geek in the regular sense of the term: I don’t pour over liner notes, I’m not very good at remembering titles, and I tend to think of records/groups/performances in terms of their leaders and drummers, regardless of who else appears. I’m drawn to jazz mostly because of how it feels to listen to jazz, and one of the best-feeling composers and performers I’ve come across, Andrew Hill, died in April.
Sun Ra Arkestra, “Nuclear War,” Freedom Rhythm & Sound, 2009 (Nuclear War, 1982).
I love clarinet. I think it’s primarily the tone — a bit thin compared to brass, rounder than double-reeds; ecstatic as opposed to joyous; instead of longing, despair and lonesomeness — which strikes me, more than most instruments, as being shaped precisely as it sounds.
“Dis Mois La Verité,” Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou, The Vodoun Effect, 2009.
Before cable television and VCRs, to say nothing of the internet, music was, at the very least, a primary source of entertainment. In my home, the radio was frequently on, playing NPR or Top 40 AM radio, or else there were records being played.
From my father’s record collection, I heard jazz: Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis (especially the latter’s Gil Evans sessions) were handy in our house.