Music is one of the most powerful stimulants on our aural senses and can evoke a wide range of emotions. The music we grew up with can touch parts of our soul and stir our senses like nothing else can.
While I enjoy nearly all music it is the sound of blues and jazz that can stop me in my tracks and seduce my senses. I grew up in a family with a father who was a jazz aficionado and the weekends our house would throb with the sounds of trumpets, trombones and the raw tones of Louis Armstrong.
The minute we got home from church on Sunday morning the record player would be playing “Satchmo” and we would be dancing round the dining table full of happiness.
Trad Jazz was the background to my childhood and my sisters and I knew all the words to Mack the Knife and Frankie and Johnny.
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were allowed on the gramophone during the week but Sundays were reserved for Jazz and the love of this genre has never left me. Muddy Waters and Blind Lemon albums were tucked in besides the Kinks and Pink Floyd in my LP case and I didn’t care that some of my friends thought I was slightly odd.
Since my teenage years the pop songs have been superseded by my enduring passion for jazz and blues. Nothing makes me happier than listening to the blues. Of course, this music has influenced many of the musicians who are immensely popular today and many of the top stars have released albums of swing and jazz songs: George Michael and Robbie Williams spring to mind.
The Birth of Jazz:
Jazz was born in America probably in New Orleans, Louisiana which was a melting point of cultures around the turn of the 20th century A major port city, people from all over the world came together there, and as a result, musicians were exposed to a variety of music. European classical music, American blues, and South American songs and rhythms came together to form what became known as jazz. Throughout its history, jazz has straddled the worlds of popular music and art music, and it has expanded to a point where its styles are so varied that one may sound completely unrelated to another.
Of course the label, is tied to many forms and styles that can be classed otherwise, such as swing, soul, honky tonk, rhythm and blues and can be played on any instrument available. Traditionally brass is featured, trumpets, trombones and saxophones and a good pianist is essential. Glen Miller used a clarinet and Taj Mahal is a virtuoso on the guitar.
Jazz festivals are a feature of the summer and the first big event on my calendar is Cheltenham at the end of this month and culminating in some huge names delighting us over the bank holiday on 2nd May.
The wide range of artistes performing in the beautiful Spa Town indicates the spectrum that Jazz covers. From Jamie Cullen to Courtney Pine, Darius Brubeck, Elkie Brooks, Quincey Jones to Imelda May, there is something for everyone.
Another favourite is the Marlborough Festival Jazz Festival in July and all around the country smaller venues provide us jazz lovers with music to delight.
The seaside town of Swanage in July is filled with traditional jazz fans with a procession through the town with umbrellas and dancing like the New Orleans parades.
So get involved with the joy of jazz, join in, take the family and get stompin’.
Have a look for one in your area on www.thefestivalcalendar.co.uk/ or get more information on the ones mentioned: