It s no secret that I love to listen to music. Those that are close to me knows that I am passionate when it comes to lights & sounds, music & entertainment. I am eclectic when it comes to music, I grew up in an atmosphere of music considering that my father was a broadcaster he had records all over the house. My parents were in the choir & were blessed with fantastic voices, so its no accident that I love music so much.
But of all the genre of music, I love Jazz the most because it soothes my soul, clears my mind & gives me focus. Let’s quickly run through the history of Jazz. In the late 19th & early 20th century, Jazz originated from New Orleans, Louisiana as a derivative of the Blues.
From the black history in America website “the blues is an African American-derived music form that recognized the pain of lost love and injustice and gave expression to the victory of outlasting a broken heart and facing down adversity. The blues evolved from hymns, work songs, and field hollers — music used to accompany spiritual, work and social functions”.
Jazz according to Travis Jackson “is music that includes qualities such as swing, improvising, group interaction, developing an ‘individual voice’, and being open to different musical possibilities” Jazz is considered a bit difficult to define, but one thing that is consistently regarded as being a key element in Jazz is improvisation.
Improvisation is the most defining feature of Jazz music. Improvisation is creating, or making up, music as you go along. Jazz musicians play from printed music and they improvise solos. From the collective improvisation of early Jazz to the solo improvisation of Louis Armstrong to the free jazz of Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane, improvisation is central to jazz.
In 1901, the Jazz legend Louis Armstrong was born, he started playing the cornet at the age of 13 & went on to perfect the improvised jazz solo as it’s known today. In summing up Armstrong’s achievements, Wynton Marsalis said “Through his clear, warm sound, unbelievable sense of swing, perfect grasp of harmony, and supremely intelligent and melodic improvisations, he taught us all to play jazz.”
So for me key points stand out:
1. The music had African origin ( West Africa & Congo Basin to be precise) & then blended with European & America music later on.
2. It was used to express the emotions ( happy or sad) of the slaves that worked on various plantations across the South in America
3. Improvisation or creativity formed the key element of the music.
I loved listening to Jazz in my early teenage years & was spoilt with choice, but the effect of Jazz on me didn’t really sink in until about my 4th year in the university.
I crossed to 200 level ( or year 2) of Elect/Elect Engineering at the University of Ibadan after completing my OND ( Ordinary National Diploma) in 1996/97, but I still continued my HND ( Higher National Diploma) at the Polytechnic Ibadan. Since both institutions shared a fence, i decided to run both programs simultaneously while still doing some IT PPs ( Private Practices) in town. I had a lot on my plate & my favourite scripture at the time was Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. I had to prepare for multiple tests & exams every year & God was so faithful so much so that the tests & exams NEVER clashed. If there was a clash in schedule, I will just pray to God & one institution will either have student demonstration or something will occur that will shut-down the school for a few weeks & that ensured that there was no clash. I felt so powerful those days running things (LOL).
Becasue i had a lot to read, i will spend a lots of hours in the library trying to catch up on things. Armed with my Sony walkman (early 1998/99), i would play tapes (cassettes) of various artists just to keep me focused as i read. I started to struggle in both schools & people advised me to drop one & focus so i dont end up lossing on both sides. By 2nd Semester 300L ( year 3) in U.I, I discovered that when I read with Jazz music, I retained more, it was like I can actually see my notebooks & textbooks to the extend that I know the exact pages where the questions came from during tests & exams.
I completed my HND bagging a lower credit, but my focus was now to ensure that I get a 2:1 ( Second Class Upper Division) grade from the University. The last 3 semesters in U.I was the best I had, I was excelling in all of my courses to the extent that my colleagues & lecturers noticed. Some will say its because I was now focused on 1 school, but I knew it’s the discovery of reading with Jazz that did the trick.
By now it had become a habit, I got myself the new Sony MP3 player ( this was ever before the iPod came to town) & loaded it with Jazz music. I would spend up to 8 hours at the Kenneth Dike Library reading, my assimilation rate went through the roof, my colleagues & I were practically chased from the library every day especially as we prepared for exams.
A couple of days ago I stumbled on my transcript from U.I & 400L 1st semester & both semesters in 500L were the best for me academically. Suffice to say that I graduated with a 2:1 & the rest is history, sometimes I wonder what my result would have been if I had discovered this earlier….maybe I would have gotten a first class….who knows????……
As a family man, an engineer & a solution provider, I can relate my “Eureka” moments from the bedroom to the boardroom to listening to Jazz before, during or after a task. My wife finds it strange/spooky any way (lol).
At work, you will always find me on my sit with my headphones on listening to music, but when i have a daunting task that requires innovation & creativity, I switch to Jazz.
My worship in church goes to another dimension when the saxophonist is given the chance for a solo!!! I love the sound of that instrument & i personally believe angels also use this piece to worship God in heaven.
I am keen to lean how to play the Sax, but I have set a goal to learn the guitar first in 2015.
Just to clarify, I am a very hardworking & highly disciplined person. I still do my part ( my work) diligently & rely on God to do his part but I have discovered that Jazz music is my trigger for creativity & innovation. You need to find your own trigger.
This is my snippet, I am SHALOMESQ