“Coming to Jazz,” by Arya Jenkins

September 15th, 2013

Publisher’s Note: The publication of Arya Jenkins’ “Soliloquy” is the first of three short stories she has been commissioned to write for Jerry Jazz Musician. For information about her column, please see our September 12 “Letter From the Publisher.”

aryajenkins

COMING TO JAZZ

By Arya F. Jenkins

 On the occasion of my 12th or 13th birthday, my father presented me with my own copy of a favorite album of his, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out and said, “This music is going to change your life.” The music sounded like nothing I’d ever heard. It was original and different and piqued my curiosity although I would not embrace it until later in my life. In the early 90s, when I was reading my poems in cafes that often played jazz in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, I started really listening to the music, and found it captivating. I went through some hard times and simultaneously got deeper into jazz. I got to dig jazz especially from the hard bop era, and read about it, and identified with the struggles and ideas of many of its main characters. Although I am no expert on the genre, I believe I am of the music and a product of it due to my own background and experiences. As a bicultural–my mother was Colombian; my dad, from Iowa–I have my whole life been caught up in complicated series of diversities that stemmed from this original one.

 Jazz celebrates both diversity and the outsider, not just African Americans, but women, although in my view, these are at the heart of jazz. You cannot escape the voices of Bird or Trane or Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughn if you care about jazz at all.

 So this is where I come from, writing about, from and into jazz in this highly personalized fashion as a way of celebrating and mining my own diversity as well as exploring the genre.

Soliloquy

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In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

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