What Exactly Is Jazz?

What Exactly Is Jazz?

There have been books,
And books and books!
I was hooked when at thirteen
A saxophoning fella said,
“You’ve got to hear Symphony Sid!”
I did, and the next year or so,
Listening to the radio
I wrote words to Shearing’s song
Long, long ‘fore Ella.
(I’ve sung my version ever since.)

Still at school I got a gig.
Playing, singing, still a kid,
I found I altered standard changes –
Small arrangements the result.

Then mom was introduced
(perhaps seduced) to Slim of Gaillard.
Off her guard they bought a club –
Jazz the hub.
My playing may have made all wince,
But i’ve been jazzing ever since.

Now I love to take a riff,
Love to make it somewhat different.
As for jazz, the idiom,
I know and see it in each crumb
When art is at its most succumbing:
Vitalised and improvised…
Obvious the talent’s bent… and meant.

What exactly is this thing
That sings its song the whole world over?
Primitive or virtuosic, diatonic or chromatic,
Voicings Bach-like or Monk-clever,
Infinite in heart and mind
And therefore ought not be defined
Because you find it everywhere:
Jazz is fascination fastened.

What Exactly Is Jazz? 4.30.2021 Vaguely About Music II; Arlene Nover Corwin

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