Thursday, October 18, 2012

birthday buddies: T-3 days!

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns--all our best-laid plans, our following of the rules of the road, our expectations, occasionally (or maybe even often) turn out in ways we just did not anticipate.

Not unlike Jazz.

I recently read a book called Make the Impossible Possible, and the author regularly compares life to jazz. He wants his life to have "swing"--to get into the groove from which you can venture out and try new things. He talks about how jazz opens the mind and creativity because it's not always obvious where the melody is going, and improvisation is such a part of the art. A good jazz musician can take the elements of music and turn them into something new each time, can hear what is going on around him/her and pull many different threads together into a new melody line, can imagine something that's both unique and fits into what's already being played. Jazz is really about listening, imagining, acting...and if it doesn't work, you just keep going until it does.

So my birthday buddy to think about and celebrate with today is a jazz great--someone who brought the art to the fore and has been an active and well-known part of the jazz world for a very long time: Dizzy Gillespie (1917).

Dizzy was, by all accounts, extremely intelligent, into complicated harmony and rhythm, and able to communicate incredible ideas at breakneck speed in ways no one had ever considered playing the trumpet before. He was mostly a self-taught musician! He drew on a deep spiritual, intellectual, and emotional well in his playing, and he was generous with his time and his knowledge of music. He told stories through the trumpet, and even now is unequaled in his virtuosity. He was known as the ambassador of jazz, going all over the world to play.

Not a bad person with whom to share a birthday (especially as I contemplate my life's unexpected turns thus far, and how to approach the coming year)!

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