“So, what is Jazz anyway?”
This is a very simple, yet rather complicated question, that should matter very much as a Jazz artist, and as a Jazz educator.
In the college, I often refer to “Hermit Crab” when explaining about Jazz music. The hermit crab inhibits in the various shells.
Just like Jazz resides in the core of many different type of music, Latin, Brazilian, Pop, Funk, Rock, etc.
“Then what is the core part of Jazz?”
This is a tough question…
When it comes to the music genre, the genre is used when selling music for approaching the listeners.
The music which does not fall into a certain category. This could be “original” or “one and only” but those originals are sometimes hard to be accepted. Rather, it is much more convenient to say, this music is pop, this is funk..etc.
Many musicians, however, tend not to care which category his or her music should fall into.
I don’t think Charlie Parker ever thought “I have to create Be-Bop music”, or Bach ever thought, “I am in the Classical Period”.
They don’t care what other people say about what category their music should belong to.
“Parallel Minor” This is a musical term that might be familiar if you study music before.
This “Parallel Minor” means totally different thing in the U.S. England, and in Europe. Japan follows Europe way.
After studying music in the U.S., coming back to Japan and realize this contradiction, I was so surprised.
I could not help contacting the professor I know, who is specialized in Music History in Germany.
I asked, “We have this concept of Parallel Minor from the period of Bach, and we have a contradiction still now? why?”
The answer was, “Now and back then, it doesn’t matter what period, musicians don’t listen to others. Once they say this is that, it won’t change no matter what other people say.”
Funny answer from German professor but it is very true.
So, there are no definitions in music. There is no point of define something.
I believe one thing is true is Jazz, that we improvise mostly in Jazz music, and improvisation tend to be the core part of music in Jazz. Then the materials (tunes) over which we improvise should have no limit.
That is why many great Jazz artists have picked up Disney tunes, Pop tune, or the music from popular movies.
Then it should not hurt if we improvise over the classical pieces.
That was the idea of my solo album, “Dimensions”. I
I improvised over the music of Bach, Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven. Just borrow a fragment from those classical music and got inspiration to freely improvise.
I did this recording in the place called “Ooga Hall” in Karuizawa, which is a resort place up in mountain in Nagano Prefecture.
The nature certainly helped my inspiration as well (it was a beautiful snow season in February).
This year, again, I will be playing in this concert hall in March 30th.
The same concert hall with the same materials I played on “Dimensions” except this time, it will be the beginning of Spring.
I am sure I will be filled with new inspirations.
If interested, please join us for the celebration of Spring!!