In a previous post, I wrote about two definitively American musicians, Bob Dylan and Sammy Miller. In keeping with that post’s comparison of American and British music, I now turn to two definitively British musical groups, the Beatles and the Kinks.
With the right outlook, nonprofits should be able to provide commissioned artists not with a rigid set of expectations, but a nexus and an impetus to create art on their own terms and with their own idiosyncrasies. SFJazz showed me the power of that potential. With the infinitude of the universe for inspiration, how could musicians find the act of being commissioned anything but liberating?
What is “American music?” Here is what Sammy had to say. “The bands…that I come back to time and time again are the ones that are trying to work through their struggles. And I kind of love that in American art. There’s sort of a hopefulness in spite of whatever the situation is.”
It may sound like a truism, but music really is a universal language. For instrumental compositions in particular, the notes that a musician reads on the page are the exact same as the notes that the composer put on that page (barring, of course, the occasional emendation or error that may be introduced over the years). Nothing gets “lost in translation,” so to speak, because there literally is no translation.
I am certain that without my class on Latin American racial dynamics, I would have been unable to appreciate the full implications of projects like these; similarly, without my seminar about 1950s jazz, I couldn't have put Charles’s boundary-pushing music in its proper context. But without the experience of that live performance in April 2017, my academic perspective on the music would’ve remained just that—academic. The Mondavi Center made it personal.
As part of its new "This Month in Live Jazz" column, The New York Times featured trumpeter Marquis Hill as one of its "September Standouts" for the best live jazz happening in New York.