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The Soul of Jazz

By Paul J. Youngman KJA - Jazz Advocate

May 10, 2006

What does Jazz do for your soul?

Does jazz wake your spirit, can it make your heart soar? Will it lift you up to the heavens; does it fill you with divine inspiration? Can jazz bring you happiness, will it feed your passion, and is it the fix that heals what ails you? It’s all those things and so much more, jazz is and jazz will be, for now and forever more.

I remember a day not so long ago, when my youngest daughter, about 10 at the time, asked me what jazz was and why I had to play it in every room of our house. I really didn’t feel qualified to answer the first part of her question, not having attained a doctorate in music, honorary or otherwise. I jumped right into the second part of her question, I play the music because it lifts my spirits, almost the same way that you do. If I hear a great jazz singer, I get absorbed in the lyrics and the emotions of the tune, so much so, that I don’t think of anything else. Take Molly Johnson for instance, a wonderful jazz singer, who sings from the very depth of her soul.

For me jazz is a pulsating rhythm that is driven along by a master drummer such as Johnson's drummer, Mark Mclean. The jazz that awakens my soul features a vocalist with the range of a Molly Johnson, who sings with the tone of a reed instrument, when every chorus is a solo of that finely honed instrument as displayed in her rendition of the classic "Summertime." I can reach down into my soul and pull out some inspiration when a featured soloist on a horn takes flight with super-sonic phrasing of a voice all their own. All my pain and troubles just melt away when a reed player interprets a beautiful melodic ballad the way Colleen Allen does on "I Must Have Left My Heart."

A living, breathing entity, that’s my jazz and therefore it has a soul. In order to live, it has to grow, to change, to blend and ultimately to defy interpretation. Jazz is, Jazz will be, for now and forever more. That’s what my Jazz is.

Check out Molly Johnson’s CD, Another Day - also featuring the aforementioned Colleen Allen on reeds, Mark Mclean on drums, with Andrew Craig on keys and Mike Downes on bass.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Molly Johnson
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