"Jazz? Nah. I don’t care for it much,"… I’ve been lying to myself for a long time.
The truth is, I do like jazz. When I was a kid my parents had a couple of jazz records: Mr. Lucky Goes Latin, and a Xavier Cugat LP, so that explains why I’ve always liked Latin jazz. My parents also got a player piano and we had all kinds of rolls, George Gershwin playing Rhapsody in Blue, others by Jelly Roll Morton and tunes by Irving Berlin. I learned to sing Alexander’s Ragtime Band from one of those rolls.
I know, and sing, a lot of the American Songbook. I attribute my fondness for it to that player piano. I used to blame the piano for my never having learned to play it, but then I found out that the aforementioned Mr. Gershwin learned to play on a player piano.
Lately, I’ve learned more of it. I have a young son and I found that when he’s fussy I can sing him to sleep. I stream music into the house and sing along. What soothes him? Country, R&B, Motown, Blues and Jazz.
I sing along with Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and a whole series of jazz greats, and my son falls asleep, which is the one time you want your audience to do that.
So, why didn’t I recognize my affection for Jazz? Well, my parents listened to Classical Music and dragged us to concerts, and we had a lot of records of that. I grew up near Detroit during Motown’s heyday and the airwaves were full of that and the British Invasion. That’s what we all listened to, my friends and siblings and me.
But there was that player piano and those rolls. It was great fun to get out those rolls and sing along. I just thought of that music as old timey, my parent’s music. In high school and college I was involved more with classical music, singing in Madrigal, Chamber and Concert Choirs.
Yet there was also that player piano. Just fun, a joyful noise, nothing serious. A lot of that joyful noise was jazz and that means I’m a jazz lover after all and so is my son (he just doesn’t know it yet, kind of like me).
This is part of a series about how CapRadio staff fell in love with the artform of jazz.
We're inviting you to share your story of how you came to love jazz, in 200 words or less. Email your essay to [email protected] before February 14. We’ll read the top submissions on air and award several prizes.