The Listener's Way

Listening is awesome. It is the state of wonder - awe - that chases all set ideas from the listener's mind. Everything is experienced afresh. Everything is felt. If the separate elements in the music come into view, they only enhance the oneness of the experience. Actually, knowing these elements isn't the point at all. Listening isn't about identifying the birds through your binoculars. It's about singing with them in the wonder of their beauty! The point of learning the elements in jazz is to remove the distraction that arises from not being aware of them. You need to know the rules of baseball to enjoy the game. But you aren't checking the rulebook as you watch the spectacular double play that ends the inning. You're engrossed - completely awed.

 

 

 

 

In this way, listening deepens your appreciation of life. It deepens your awareness of the subtlety of human invention. Of relationship. Of feeling. As you give over to the moment, your focus doesn't miss a beat, because you know the rules, and the score. But you're just playing a game.

Listening to jazz can be a creative, spiritual activity. Just like tennis, gardening, crocheting, cooking, meditating or playing jazz. Any activity that has your fully integrated attention - body, mind, heart and soul - can show you the meaning of life - the willingess to trust the unknowable mystery of creation. It is a blissful sureness that comes from connecting with the life current. The pleasure is unmistakeable.

It's clean, pure pleasure, distinct in character from other pleasures, such as buying a boat, eating cake or being given a prize. What makes jazz so accessible is that, unlike tennis, which also swings, no one sits in a tall chair on the sidelines calling someone a loser. The boundaries are more flexible, and the graceful artistry of the players is a communion of cooperation among bandmates, listeners and the univeral creative spirit moving through all involved. Jazz has the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional all integrated into an elegant, gracious, endlessly fascinating expression.