Life Jazz

July 6, 2017

dissonance (dis’e-nens) n. 1. A harsh, disagreeable combination of sounds; discord. 2. Lack of agreement, consistency, or harmony; conflict. 3. Music. A combination of tones contextually considered to suggest unrelieved tension and require resolution.

I am not a Jazz guy. Where dissonance ranks in the hierarchy of device. I love Jazz, it is simply not my ‘go to’ genre. Not in music anyway. As a songwriter I am happiest when I land in a pop-ish neo-soul/folk/Americana territory. I write cleanly in the pocket, rely on lyric to drive the substance of my work, and use the music behind the melody to provide familiar foundation for a broad audience. At least I try. When it comes to people, especially in creative collaboration, the jazz man cometh.

Introduction. Rhythm of exchange, cadence. You sit here and I will…stand, no, sit, over here. Will you lead or will I. I prefer to defer and get a sense of what you bring to the table. The hi-hat counts us in and we’re off.

Melody. Beat the scrub to find the path. Is it straight or does it meander, is it both? Guided meditation toward discovery. I knock gently from stage left to wonder aloud where we’re headed. Wasn’t there a left turn at Albuquerque? No, no, you drive. I’m just asking for the sake of axing.

Thumping rhythm and the clack-clack of hands furious, meeting the soft-worn wood of the bass. There is a foundation for what we do. In every meeting where men and women of purpose gather there is an ode to be found. Notes to be played. A song.

No two artists every play the same. Even when you bring the same players back to the stage, they aren’t beginning anew. They resume their masterwork, take up the bars again. A coda to the music of lives intertwined. Improvisational by design. Intentional by nature.

We dance without knowing how the next bar might turn. Snatching away at the next set of black ovals that translate toward meaning. Symbols for words made of symbols for sounds made of symbols for feeling. Writing the railway as we barrel down the tracks. Frenzied for knowing the next slip could foul the whole measure.

Many are listeners. The world needs music lovers. Though if you are able you ought to take up your instrument and learn to play. When the music of the world goes unwritten, when the craft of lives intertwined goes unsung, everybody everywhere shines a little less brightly for the loss. And the players on stage grow a little more weary.

I do not apologize for my insistence that every moment then is fraught with meaning. Only that in my hurry to discover the next phrase I can overlook the layabouts. And in my sometimes hunger for complement I see adept where there is only aficionado with potential. But I have learned to slow the tempo to grow the base. And let the music find me instead of the other way around. And at the end of it all just play.

~AF

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