Sunday, June 14, 2009

All That Jazz

The moon, a planet of hidden emotion, just recently entered the sign of sensitivity, Pisces. This all takes place in the 11th House, the house of originality and eccentricity. A romanticized expression of emotion emerges while the moon traverses this sign. It will manifest in odd ways that might not be obvious at first. Exploration will reveal its path.

Last night, I had the experience of sitting through an improvisational jazz performance. I have to confess that although I would love to be the "artist" who is able to grasp the intricate complexities found within the lingering notes of a boisterous brass instrument, I was not a fan. I sat, assailed by the cacophony, attempting to discern the magic pattern behind the music, while dedicated patrons eagerly awaited the next blast. It was unfathomable to me. I could detect no given pattern, no rhyme or reason to the music. It appeared to me to be a series of solos wherein the given performer would demonstrate his prowess with his instrument. I saw nothing more than consecutive showing-off with no regard for the other performers onstage. Strangely enough, from what little I knew of jazz music, I assumed that musicians had to listen to each other to keep some sort of cohesive form. This is not to say that they weren't listening to each other, but it wasn't apparent to me.

In an attempt to understand, I turned to a companion of mine who not only enjoyed jazz music, but had participated in a few performances, and asked him whether the music before me was following a given routine or whether it was created on the spot. He responded that it was a little of both. The musicians, he informed me, were following a set of chord progressions, but within that construct, they had the freedom to improv. This made sense to me.

It does seem to be a metaphor for life. We work within a given construct, but we make decisions that help us standout. There are certain rules, whether they're set by family, society, religion, or by our own sense of personal duty, that we have to follow. Beyond that, we have the freedom to explore our own interpretations of the choices handed to us. Jazz seems to view music (and by my own interpretative extension, life) as a choose your own adventure. Remember those books? For those of you who have never experienced one of these books, at the end of certain pages in the story, you have a choice. "If you want to see Matt go through the door, go to page 52. If you'd rather see him take the stairs, skip to page 147." The story changes depending on the choices that are made, but if you're following the rules of the book, you have to make the choices given to you. You can't suddenly skip to page 204 if the page isn't offered. The story makes no sense.

I developed a different appreciation of jazz music in this light. Admittedly, the music that I heard last night is not that which I would naturally seek out, but the inherent constriction/freedom dichotomy within it is highly attractive. For those who study Kabbalah, the balancing elements of Chokma (expansion) and Binah (limitation) can be found in jazz music. Though my ears were reluctant to accept the sounds overtaking the room, my mind was fascinated by the varying meanings found within those sounds. They declared their own individuality within a world that requires certain acceptances.

I think that's part of why I write. It's my version of jazz.

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