All that jazz just makes my head hurt.

I must admit … officially … I simply don’t get it.  I’ve tried, REALLY I have.  But it’s just not working.  I obviously lack some inherent jazz gene. 

I’m not so sure why I feel compelled to keep trying, despite my lack of an ear for real jazz.  I think it’s some form of social conformance disorder that drives me to keep going back.  There’s this nagging perception that this is the time in my life when I’m SUPPOSED to appreciate jazz as some highly refined taste I should naturally gravitate towards.

Not sure where that idea originated.  I’m inclined to believe that it was planted by commercials showing intelligent-looking, middle-aged men as they waxed their Jaguars, sailed their yachts with an attractive woman sitting by the wheel, or as they both sat in matching bathtubs that magically appeared in a lush mountain meadow.  Somewhere I must gave figured jazz was playing in the background.

So it seems – for whatever reason – to be my time for jazz.  Yet I can’t get pass the fact that it hurts my ears!

I appreciate the concept of No Limits, No Boundaries as something an artist would naturally aspire to.  And I’m intrigued by the relationship of mathematics to music.  Then again, math was never a particular strong suit.  And maybe the core of the problem is that I NEED limits and boundaries! 

That last statement is a bit of a downer.  Maybe I’m just not cut out for REAL jazz.

In my quest to populate my iPod with as much of the music I enjoy while spending as little as possible, I’ve taken to regular trips to the township library, where I peruse the somewhat limited (But free!) collection of music CDs they carry.  I’ll grab six at a time; load them into the car’s CD player; and listen to them during my workday commutes, making notes on which tracks to download whenever traffic stops allow.  It works for me.

And in the interests of trying to broaden my horizons, I make myself pick a few musical offerings from artists or genres to which I don’t normally listen.  As a result I’ve picked up some interesting options that in the past I would have scrunched my nose up at.  But I’m still scrunching my nose at some of them.

I appreciate the talents of Grover Washington, Jr., Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and Maynard Ferguson, although I only enjoy certain works and am lucky if I find more than a track or two to add to the collection.  Failed attempts include Billie Holiday, Dizzie Gillespie, Joe Lovano, and Theloniuos Monk.

In general, I can’t seem to enjoy the no limits, no boundaries of brass and horns.  I’m certain there’s artistry there that many have no problem finding without even trying.  But to me, it sounds like someone is strangling a very loud duck.

This week I tried Wynston Marsalis, an epic fail that spurred this long overdue confession.  But I liked Camp Meeting, an album featuring Bruce Hornsby, Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette.  I guess the piano works much better for me when it comes to jazz.  I also have Yusef Lateef loaded up in the CD player; but the sax on the cover has me less than optimistic.

Regardless though, I promise to keep plugging along, hoping that at some point my jazz gene kicks in. 

Just don’t hold your breath.

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