RiffShots: Jazz as the Object of My Transformation


Kadinsky and the Spiritual in Art
Kadinsky and the Spiritual in Art

“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” ~ Charlie Parker 

I was raised believing that in order to survive I had to live in disguise. When I was very young , the sanctity of my room is where I had hopes, dreams, values and aspirations.  When I left my room I had to leave them behind like my books and other treasures tucked away on a shelf nestled in the opposite corner of my bedroom.  I believe with all of my heart Dad loved me, but I caved and bartered my own thoughts and feeling when he told me what I was supposed to want.  I sacrificed what I really wanted because Dad tells me that being a doctor is where it’s at.  The early part of my journey amidst the jazz world I would hole up in my room discovering and accepting fully the gifts and talents that God gave me.  I would let go of my family “persona” to free my imagination tapping into my personal sense of purpose and who I really was.  Early mornings I would lie in bed hearing the music climb the stairs, it had a purpose, it had an intent – it was harmonic, it had a rhythm that grabbed my heart and rearrange the beats to prepare me to go to my desk open my curtains and let the burst of the morning gently touch my face.  Jazz was transformative.

I was paralyzed by the feeling of losing my father if I chose to follow my star.  I needed for him to tell me things would be okay.  That he would help me, encourage me, teach me the way things are in the world I was living in.  How did he do it?  Every time I tried to step out of the role he was creating for me, he would resist.  So I would withdraw and try to convince myself that he knows what’s best for me.  I was so conflicted when he would teach me how to sight sing music, take me to his rehearsals and ask what instrument I wanted to learn how to play.  There were definitely rules of conduct and engagement with others.  There were two distinct behaviors, one associated with our home and private life and the one associated with our public life.  I spent most of the time in my room.  There the only rule was to be myself.

Our outer selves are in constant flux.  Folks come into our lives and go.  We move from place to place.  We are creating and establishing in every living moment.  When taking a peek at our inner selves it always remains the same.  Our awareness is what changes because we are in touch with our true self.  It was inheriting breast cancer that caused me to embark on this journey.  That was the biggest game changer with respect to finding and identifying how jazz is part of my true nature.  When I think about all of the setbacks or side effects that are related to cancer I play dad’s album or listen to Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch or Coltrane or Miles or Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra I am reminded of being in my room laying on my bed as a child.  Now if I am not in balance with my  true self, I stop, crank up the sounds, put on the cool shades and dance around building up the energy to write because I am re-aligned and grateful for the smallest things, like the sun, moon stars, and of course, the life thing.  Some folks say that we were not born with an instruction manual.  Parents are guiding us, but, now I know I am going to set sail to follow my North Star.  So let’s get to it, pack your bags, get your shades on ‘cause we are gonna set sail and discover that jazz is transformative in everyday life.  It’s all about awareness…How about you, do you remember a turning point in your life?  Peace out! .

Copyright © 2013 by Jazzybeatchick. All rights reserved.

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11 thoughts on “RiffShots: Jazz as the Object of My Transformation

  1. Killer-good post, JBC. Really spoke my language here. True self, set sail to follow your Polaris (North Star), turning point in life—you’re hitting the key notes of my last half decade.

    BTW, I’m a vinyl/tube amp sort of guy. Saw Dave Brubeck a in Montreal a year or two before he passed away. His variations on “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime” moves me like nothing else. Cerebral sort of spiritual. Beautiful beyond words.



    1. How true you are. I learned a lot about sailing in Cheasapeake Bay in the 70’s. It has always been near and dear to me. I remember Dave Brubeck and my dad had a language beyond Jazz. Brubeck remindfs me of Stan Kenton with his vision and style. Thanks for sharing. JBC


    1. I don’t necessarily consider it victory because it came back in my mom and so many friends it returned claiming their lives as well. I am grateful for making it 13 years out. I used to fixate on its return, but learned if I continued I would disappear. Thanks for the uplifting comment. Take care, JBC 😛


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