Jazz

Mar 19, 2009

Jarrod Hill - Southeast High School
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

I believe jazz music can be called the "music of America." America was founded on the principles of freedom, liberty and happiness. Also, America is a democracy. It is a place where you have the right to choose what you do, where you go and who you go with. The same privileges are given to each American no matter who you are or how much money you make. As I continue to learn and explore the theories of jazz music, it is obvious to me that the structure of jazz music is like America, free and full of possibilities.

While America is the land of freedom, there are still some countries that are not as fortunate to have the freedom that is given in America. Similar to these countries, freedom was not present in my early days of learning how to play music. When I first began to play music, I always had to have a piece of music in front of my face. I was a wreck without a piece of music to read. It was like being a baby and always needing that parental guidance to accomplish a task. After two or three years of playing, music was still somewhat unclear to me. Fortunately, I had a mentor to mimic and look up to. This was in the person of Kenny Humble. I was able to play with him many times in church. It is because of him that my improvisation has improved.

Jazz music is the American dream. Like America, it too is a democracy. It is the "heartbeat" of this nation and without it, America would not be the same.

After watching and listening to him for a while, things began to click. Music became more of a joy to me. Sheet music was not always required anymore. Music was like my own personal playground, but there were still a lot of things that were unknown to me. I was a good musician, or so I thought, but after reaching high school, the structure and "rules" of jazz music were revealed to me. Improvisation is the key component to jazz. Improvisation is freedom.

Soloing was somewhat second nature by now, but musically, my solos did not always make sense. Once I learned to take ideas already presented throughout the song and incorporate them into my solos, I went from being an okay musician to a more "polished" musician. To be able to take a scale or scales and make them your own is a good feeling. To be able to express your ideas in a way that only you can show them is an even better feeling.

The freedom is the same freedom which America was founded upon. The freedom that Americans were able to use to choose that first black man to be president is the same freedom that can be used by me and other musicians to create inspiring music. Jazz music is the American dream. Like America, it too is a democracy. It is the "heartbeat" of this nation and without it, America would not be the same.