There’s always live music, and it’s pretty good. You will get mainly jazz, with sprinkles of soul and bossa nova from time to time. Honestly, even if you are not into jazz, you will still like it given the nice environment and the people around you.
The result is that live music is being put on a higher pedestal. For musicians, especially, the live music playing is a key aspect of their present and future livelihood. Their stake in the market is undeniable, and, for them, its dollar value must be of concern.
There is a distinction between art and craft. Craft implies mastering a specific technique to such a degree that one is competent enough to negotiate the general landscape of a given art form. For a jazz musician, this means sounding convincing using the rules, customs, signposts, etc., of the music. Art, on the other hand, transcends craft by communicating the artist’s personal and subjective feelings in the chosen manner. Aristotle wrote: “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Mastering craft is a necessary stage of the process ultimately leading to artistic expression representing an individual’s unique voice and personality–the ultimate goal of any artist’s quest.
Music is the medium through which man express deepest feelings and thoughts to the world at large. With music, the communication between the artist’s inner self and the listener is immediate and inherently devoid of any hidden agenda because of the abstract nature of sound itself-unseen, not tactile, etc. Have you ever heard someone play resentful or selfish music, or even, on the other hand, caring music? The fact that music is literally in the “ears of the beholder” opens it up directly to the heart and soul of the listener. This is especially true in the case of spontaneously improvised music, the core of jazz, which is so direct in its communicative approach, honestly delivered without pretense. The true message of jazz goes beyond intellect directly to the heart and soul itself.
On a more abstract level, a spontaneous, improvised art such as jazz magnifies the moment. The act of improvising implies that the past and the future are irrelevant. There is no time for value judgments or censorship when one is improvising. If only because of the amount of information which has to be filtered through during the improvisational process, the jazz artist must be in the now, one hundred percent present, or the communicative value, let alone musical discussion at hand will be lost. At that point, the jazz band player must rely on past habits or future intentions rather than immediate feeling. In fact, a constant dilemma for a jazz artist is just that: how to stay in present time, psychologically and musically. This “being there-ness” aspect inherent in improvisation places the artist in a position to interact in several important ways-in relations to the energy felt from the immediate environment and audience as well as the very real musical interaction taking place among the musicians themselves.
From a different standpoint, jazz represents the ultimate synthesis of independence and dependence, of the individual within the group. Except for the occasional solo performer, the majority of improvised jazz takes place in groups of several individuals which at its core symbolizes participatory democracy at work in real time. Though jazz places importance on finding and expressing one’s individuality, it also demands cooperation and teamwork for the greater musical good. There is a delicate balance between selflessness and ego, personified in trying to achieve a unified ensemble sound and equally, memorable individual solo statements that move the listener. Subtle social skills which are a prerequisite for any group interaction in everyday life are called upon to the typical jazz group, albeit using the language of music as the means.
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