I will be the first to admit that I had very little to absolutely no knowledge about jazz music before arriving in Taiwan. Besides the instruments used and the ability to identify the genre, my knowledge about jazz didn’t go much further.
When I was growing up, my exposure to jazz music was very limited. Sometimes I would hear it playing at some random restaurant or cafe that was attempting to create a contemporary, relaxed, artsy vibe. But that’s about it!
However, that slowly began to change when Nora Jones’ first CD was released. I recall Nora Jones jazzing up my daily morning walk down a major Taipei road and keeping company as she sang about ‘Come away with me’ and ‘Don’t know why.’ I’m sure there was a ‘jazzy’ sway in my step as the soul from the melody and easy listening piece of music poured out of my MP3.
But, maybe I need to give some credit to Bill Thissen’s Jazz ‘Flavors’, a Sunday night radio program which used to air on ICRT, Taiwan’s only English radio station (it has recently been replaced by another jazz program called Jazz Trax). His mix of older with newer numbers added to the variety of jazz I was exposed to; thus, broadening my knowledge about jazz.
However, it may very well be attending my very first Jazz Festival in Taichung last year. On the first day of the festival, we strolled around the stages looking for someone to jazz up our day. Performing on one of the stages were the ‘Muddy Basin Ramblers.’ We decided to listen to them for awhile and we ended up staying for the entire show. The lively commentary between songs, the upbeat tunes, the dancers in front doing the two-step or the Foxtrot, the enthusiastic crowd, the variety of instruments, and last but surely not least, the great vocals made for one very spectacular, absolutely amazing performance. Their performance as so captivating that I felt disappointed when it ended. I loved their jazzy, blues vibe with a splash of country so much that I even bought a CD!
Or it may very well be the collaborated star performance by saxophonist Greg Osby and jazz pianist Janguen Bae who hit the stage for the main performance on opening night!
Whatever the reason is, my appreciation and interest in this genre of music has dramatically increased. I have a new-found appreciation and respect for jazz and I will continue to expose and learn about this genre.
So, with the date of the upcoming 2013 Taichung Jazz Festival announced (Oct 19th to 27th), I can’t help but look forward to it. I can’t wait to hear the lively performances, the musicians playing their hearts out, the mellow melodies of the songs, the singers entertaining the crowd, and the chance to sit on the grass, sip a glass of red wine, and enjoy the talented musicians in front of me!! And of course, it doesn’t hurt that it is all free to attend.
What are your thoughts about jazz music? Have you ever attended a jazz festival?