One of the strongest songs I have in my contemporary jazz library is “Grace” from Nelson Rangell’s 1995 recording Destiny. Here’s what Nelson had to say about it in his liner notes from that release:
Grace has a few definitions. Among them is this one I’ve been thinking about: the giving of free and unmerited favor and love … that sure is nice to receive, and a pretty great thing to be able to give. When we extend grace to another, it can only help to make our collective road ahead easier in these complicated times -for truly wc arc all in this together, dependent on one another. Remember to try to “see” the ones beside you, and think of those far away in distant places.
Nelson revisited Grace in one of his latest albums. “Some Next Grace,” from his pop-jazz sax release Red, is a follow-up of sorts. I asked Nelson about grace. He replied:
I think we are in short supply right now…..”Some Next Grace” is a type of follow up and continuation on the theme of Grace. I think that we should try to reflect upon the profound idea and truth that we are often the recipients of Grace that we are hardly aware of, sometimes even totally unaware of. “Some Next Grace”, maybe seemingly almost mundane that actually changed our life early one morning or at 4:12 in the afternoon on a Thursday when by a second we didn’t step in front of a car or make a fateful move or decision for some unknown reason that changed everything, or never knew how close we came to a terrible accident or avoided getting terribly sick — never even having a clue. I hope I will be able to just feel more and proceed with more easy gratitude for each day, for the things I know and the things at work that I don’t. : – )
I’ve been researching contemporary jazz in the 80s and 90s and came across this great 1983 quote from Herbie Hancock:
I don’t mind being classified as a jazz artist, but I do mind being restricted to being a jazz artist. My foundation has been in jazz, though I didn’t really start out that way. I started in classical music, but my formative years were in jazz, and it makes a great foundation.
This is Wayne Shorter on jazz:
“If you’re playing something that’s supposed to sound like it’s supposed to be . . . and you’re perfecting this mandatory expression with mandates all around it, it’s nothing more than a statue,” says Shorter. “Like polishing a statue.”
It’s further pinpoints a similar point Wayne made earlier about jazz moving forward. The quote is from a Boston.com article about Wayne’s 75th Birthday Celebration. Also in the article: Wayne meets William Shatner (it’s Shatcember, you know)!
When Javon Jackson played in St. Louis earlier this year, STLToday.com posted an interview with him. It’s not online anymore but I did archive the quote I liked best. With the release of his new recording, Once Upon A Melody, earlier this month, I thought I’d post this.
“Some people don’t think what I’m doing is jazz,” Jackson says. “My answer to that is there is nothing that is whole anymore in jazz, or in any style of music. Can you point to Duke Ellington or Charlie Parker or fusion and say that is exactly what jazz is? No.
“Jazz has always incorporated elements of blues and other musical styles as it’s evolved. At the end of the day, what’s important for me is to present music that’s honest, and that helps me grow. I don’t need anyone else’s opinion to justify my music. That’s another thing I learned along the way, starting with my time with Art Blakey.”
Javon Jackson – Once Upon A Melody
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“There used to be a thing where people would say, “this is not jazz! Blah, blah, blah. It’s supposed to sound like this.” Whenever there’s a prescription for what something is supposed to be, to look like or sound like, then to me, that’s a statue.”
I love listening to Wayne speak. He always makes me think. This quote is from the latest issue of the Jazz Improv magazine.