Everybody loves jazz. It's just that nobody listens to it.
For months—okay, years—I've been threatening to write an "Introduction to Jazz" post. This is a little worse than quixotic: I'm not a musician, not a music critic, certainly not any kind of an expert on any kind of music. I'm a member of "Generation Jones" (Google it—post or very late Baby Boom generation) who grew up with what's now called "Classic Rock" in the air. My brother Scott turned me on to jazz in the late '80s—dragged me along rather unwillingly at first—and I've been getting more and more into it ever since—especially over the last four or five years, during which time I've been on a "jazz kick" that doesn't seem to want to end.
But I'm just a Listener. Capital "L," though. When I was a teenager, courtesy of my father, I took a fascinating three-day battery of aptitude tests at the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. I scored in the 90–95 percentile range on all the musical aptitudes*, which by their reckoning was very high—but, critically, not as high as musicians score. According to them, people who score in the 95–100 percentile range for the musical aptitudes literally must be musicans, or they won't be happy—that is, they have so much musical ability they won't be satisfied in life if they're not putting their musical abilities to use in some way. I was told that I don't quite have the aptitude to succeed in a music-related career, but that I have enough aptitude for music that it would always be a very important part of my life. But I was advised to be an appreciator of music—part of the audience, an active listener. And so I have always been. It was great advice, because they were right. Being a committed listener is just the right situation for me, and I'm happy with where I stand. I don't regret not being a musician. Neither could I imagine my life without music.
This is written for people who don't listen to jazz, but are curious about it, or who would like to try it. And it's just one guy's suggestions, nothing more. There might, however, be a sort of hidden benefit in my lack of expertise: being just an average person makes it easy for me to know what other average people go through when trying to expand their musical horizons. That's my story, anyway, and I think I'll stick with it.
So let's get going here. Deep breath and....