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Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 11. 1961

Jazz Comments

Jazz Comments

Jazz is largely the exploration of personal experience, but it is not so spontaneous or non-universal as some may think. A statement of a musical idea, or more simply of a specific mood, may have artistic value through all time: in the present as containing the feelings of the soloist at this particular moment; and in the future when listeners realise the validity of such' emotion in this context many years later. A soloist's statement is preconceived in that it is a summation of the musician's feelings both past and present. Thus any given statement is directed by the personal development of the soloist in the framework of his art and is distinguished by the freshness and intensity with which he expresses himself. This statement must have musical meaning, that is it must have form and direction—a sense of inevitability if you like, to stand up to any sort of musical criticism.

The artist, being creative, cannot be static. He must constantly expand his ideas and technique, moving from perfection to perfection. No art, as a whole, can reach such a height of perfection that no step forward is possible. An artist may, but that infers he lacks a quality of greatness. His solo may be "perfect" In a particular setting at a particular time, and this does not mean he cannot be "more perfect" Inter, but he will require a different setting and a new attack. He must therefore remain vital and interesting, and this means, ultimately, profound, for without profundity his musical statement soon becomes trite and meaningless. So those who try and play jazz "exactly as it was in the twenties" are not only stifling their own creativity, but they are stifling jazz too—whatever their professed intention. I place In the same category those who deny the value of "experimental" (I prefer developmental as being more accurate) jazz, or state that It can develop only within their own rigid concept. But jazz Is as individual as the creator of the moment, and is as.universal as human emotion itself.

The listener must therefore be aware of the fundamentals of jazz and, to some extent, the musical direction of the soloist, before he can appreciate the value of the music. This means he mast be aware of the form the soloist is using, and his dependence upon it.