Just finished watching the second episode of Ken Burns' "Jazz" documentary, which is mostly about Satchmo and The Duke. And although I really appreciate and am learning a lot from the series, I crave the nourishment and energy of witnessing and dancing to live jazz, which is what it's all about--the improvisation, the spontaneity, the fresh, happy in-the-moment vibe that only live performances by real musicians can give me.
My friend N.'s grandfather tells her that real music started to die--not with the birth of video and MTV, as you might suspect an elder might think--with the advent of the music recording industry. Although this statement shocked me when I heard it, I have to say that after watching the 2nd installment of "Jazz", I can see what he means. I mean, who goes to see live music anymore? And if people do go see live music, how many of the bands and musicians they are seeing really play music, instead of rapping over pre-recorded beats, or basically lip-syncing over canned music, or just going through the motions, singing and playing their songs exactly the way their 'Radio Edit' singles sound?
I'm not saying that electronically-generated music--house, techno, hip-hop beats, etc.--isnt' "real" (and if I did, Hen10 would give me a serious scolding), but I am saying that hearing live music played on tactile instruments is something that more people need to do. The pre-fab stuff just doesn't have the same kind of energy and impact.
One of the reasons I love to go salsa dancing is that at just about any decent salsa club in the Bay Area you will find a live band--some of whom are made up of incredible musicians who have clearly honed their craft for many years and understand the music on a deep level. This connection gets translated through the instruments, mics and amps to us dancers, who groove, shake, spin and smile because, well, the music makes us happy to be alive.
So it's great timing that the San Jose Jazz Festival is this weekend, featuring some seriously heavy hitters--from local salsa band Mazacote and Oakland native son Pete Escovedo to the legendary kunga master Ray Barretto. There will be seven, count 'em, seven stages of FREE music all day, and since it's South Bay you know the weather will be at least ten degrees warmer than in the northerly microclimates. I went to the festival last year, and it was a blast--who knew San Jose was so poppin'?
I can't wait to put my dancin' shoes on and groove on down to San Jo'. And for anyone who hasn't checked out a live (not pre-recorded!) music show in a while, this is the perfect opportunity to see how some real masters throw down. So if you see me shakin' my thang among the throngs of folks, gimme a holla and let me see you smile.
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