Cultural Experiences,  Inspirational Experiences

Jazz By The Sea And A Day For All The People Of The World

In the 19th century,  ―Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “ Music is the universal language of mankind.”

Involved with music production and married to a jazz artist for many years, I have personally been part of this universal global exchange and communication.  Music everywhere has somehow always lifted itself and those surrounding it, both performers and music lovers, to a degree of unification and combined joy perhaps only possible through music.

Jazz is the only music form which is not solely from one race or nationality, but rather, it is from a combination of individuals of different races, heritages, and traditions. In cities throughout the world where individuals of different races, ethnicities, and economic classes segregated themselves, jazz became a means towards blending these citizens together. Jazz provided a way in which individuals could express themselves, no matter what race or nationality.

I love and believe in the power, creativity, and force of jazz.  Therefore, this year, I decided to contribute to the 190 country International effort as organized by UNESCO. In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.

 

I joined thousands of events in over 190 countries promoting International Jazz Day and Jazz Month.  Loving the Mediterranean and how jazz seems to fit so well into the culture and feel of the area, I chose Marsalforn, Gozo in the tiny country of Malta to produce an International Jazz Day launch event.  Gozo is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean and this year it was chosen as the United Nations World Cultural Capital which this year attracted a tourist population greater than the entire country.  I considered it a good place for a truly international event.

As I connected with UNESCO and the fantastic commitment of the United Nations, I was filled with the sense of something greater than a simple concert by the sea.  As the Executive Director for a non-profit charitable foundation, I have many years of working with others toward a common goal, but the cooperation, caring, and exchange of Jazz Day ideas far surpassed anything I imagined possible. This inspiration was felt by the musicians, venue staff, and attendees evolving this music event into one of the most enjoyable undertakings of which I have ever personally experienced.

I have enjoyed hundreds of days during which I was present as jazz musicians met together for the first time to play.  Privy to every personal aspect of these sessions, I was constantly amazed as the music always came together out of apparent nothingness with non-ego and support evidence to the pure genius within.  Most of these sessions have been with world-class jazz musicians who many might assume that a certain “pecking order” might exist among them.  It does not and it’s a beautiful thing. Even if everyone had a way to only realize that sharing a common goal in this manner is possible, that knowledge could nourish many factors of importance to global cooperation and respect.

One of my goals with my production of the Jazz Day Concert was to let the audience gain an understanding of what occurs when jazz musicians come together and walk on stage without even playing together previously or seeing music and arrangements in advance.

It was a beautiful day on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea.  The open windows welcomed the light breeze as the audience began to arrive amidst the chattering of perhaps a dozen different languages.  To set the gathering as I needed so as to attain my goal, I announced that this was to be a different type of concert and the audience was welcome to mix with the musicians on stage prior to the first song to listen and observe what happens when a jazz pianist from Miami, double-bassist from London and drummer from Malta meet for the first time and then begin the concert shortly after.

This was certainly unique in most of the audience’s experience but they eventually gravitated toward the table where the trio quickly reviewed the tunes and arrangements.  During the break, many of the audience expressed their amazement and appreciation.  It was evident that most did not have a thorough understanding of how free and untethered jazz remains and that musicians can just simply start playing together somehow knowing how to play their roles in the songs.

I had more opportunity to speak with the concert audience than the musicians and devoted as much time as necessary to joining tables for a glass of wine and a discussion of jazz and improvisation.  This created a wonderful opportunity for me to spread my love and understanding of the art, hopefully, inspiring the listeners toward a deeper level of appreciation.

As the audience quieted into jazz heaven, the golden sunset sparkled across the gentle bay and the Middle Sea Trio slid pensively into the slow beat of Arthur Swartz’s song, Alone Together.  The tune was perfectly placed in the two- hour playlist as evidenced by the settling of contented bodies from probably more than ten different countries sinking into their chairs much as the sun had done earlier into the Sea.  Somewhere in my mind, I heard Julie London’s unique voice offering Howard Dietz’s 1932 lyrics:

 

Alone together beyond the crowd

Above the world we’re not too proud

To cling together we’re strong

As long as we’re…together.

 

Alone together the blinding rain

The starless nights were not in vain

For we’re together and what is there

To fear…together.

 

Our love is as deep as the sea

Our love is as great as a love can be

And we can weather the great unknown

If we’re alone…together.

 

Remembering those words stirred my emotions and caused me to consider that 76 years later, they can join with that most beautiful melody and have meaning even if you have come from London, Malta, Miami or ten different countries.  Here, under the stars, sat 50 or 60 people alone in their jazz ecstasy together.  I have been truly blessed to have been part of this event and observe the effect of jazz through its universal language.

 

Visit middleseajazz.com for event pictures.

 

12 Comments

  • Kristine

    This sounds like a truly amazing experience! Thank you for sharing. I just added some jazz music to my playlist. The lyrics to Alone Together are inspiring and made me consider how people can bond through deep emotional experiences even when they come from such different parts of the world.

  • Arta

    Just a quick post … LOVING Miles Davis! Will elaborate more in future posts–but wanted to let you know that I’m on my way 🙂 Inviting John Coltrane into my living room next!

    Jazz Lover, I checked you out at middleseajazz.com — While there, I was also introduced to Pat, below! How exciting to have such accomplished artists introducing me to jazz! Thank you for your time and sharing your love of jazz!

    Question: Is the invitation to Arzella’s for this coming summer? What a destination! Please advise!

    • Jazz Lover

      Arta, I’m so happy you have found a new joy! Here’s a good introductory listen for John Coltrane: “My One and Only Love”. You may not immediately connect with some of Coltrane’s music but eventually will develop into it. One day you will disappear in to what I feel is John’s best accomplishment, “A Love Supreme” (I’d wait a bit for that one) Also listen to John with Johnny Hartman playing “My One and Only Love”. You can find these on YouTube.

      Glad you have been introduced to Pat. Listen to his songs: search patmallinger.com, go to the album “Monday Prayer to Tunkashla” and click on CD Baby. Listen to one of my favorite Pat compositions, “Queen Anne’s Lace” (his wife Tammy’s favorite flower). You can also find a video on his landing page with Pat performing the tune live. it’s a bit more “outside” than the studio recording but amazing. And you get to see Pat visually!

      Yes, Gozo is an amazing destination and I had a blast but I’m not there anymore. The Arzelllo gig has ended but watch middlesea.com for what’s happening in 2019. I’ve already signed on for the 2019 International Jazz Day concert. Pat doesn’t know he’s invited yet but I’m hoping he joins me. It’s going to be in a great location so watch the website for announcements. I’m really enjoying this discussion. Thanks. Jazz Lover

  • Jazz Lover

    Hello Arta. Love your image and I’ve got just the right jazz tune to fill it. It can be difficult to find one’s way into jazz. I’m going to light up your life with a composition by Miles Davis and Bill Evans, “Blue in Green”. It is on the album Kind of Blue which every critic and jazz musician will tell you is the best jazz album ever recorded. Listen to Blue in Green here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoPL7BExSQU . Put on your headphones (don’t you dare use your computer speakers) and prepare to move into new territory. I’ve listened to it thousands of times and it still captures my heart and soul. Let me know how your home feels when Miles and John Coltrane move in. Of course, Bill Evans (pianist) is so very tasteful it hurts). If you let yourself, you will cry in joy.

    I used to sail the Caribbean Sea and and it became a tradition with each sunset to drop sail and play Blue in Green as we floated into the nothingness. I’m listening to it as I write to you and it owns all my best moments. It makes me love everything I love even more. The album is “Kind of Blue”. It is the best selling jazz album of all time and was certified as quadruple platinum. Every song is a masterpiece. I have the original vinyl which i bought when I was 14 years old. I also have the 2005 Dual-Disc special release which, if you can find, buy it. I contains the original album, a digital remastering in 5.1 surround sound, and a 25 minute documentary “Made in Heaven” about the making and influence of Kind of Blue. I believe jazz is made in Heaven and heads directly into our soul. Well, I’m on my third time through listening to your next favorite song, so have a great listen. Jazz Lover (listen and check me out on middleseajazz.com

    • Arta

      Jazz Lover, Thank you! Your Caribbean tradition sounds surreal! I’m sure you’ll see my reply to Pat … I want to thank you, as well, for giving me something meaningful to put on my Christmas list. I am not so interested in “things” these days, as I would prefer to spend my time and resources on enrichment and experiences 🙂 I am so looking forward to making jazz an exploration!

      I will heed your advice to listen with high quality sound … and in a tranquil space. I think I’ll have to treat myself to the Miles Davis experience over Thanksgiving … but hope to receive some of the other suggestions under the tree 🙂 I guess 219 will be my year of jazz. I hope to receive more guidance as I develop my tastes! Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be fortunate enough to attend the IJD. Until next time … Thx again!

  • Pat Mallinger

    Fantastic website, and I love the images, words, and the possibilities presented. Being an American jazz saxophonist/composer myself, I sincerely hope to be involved in a future IJD! I would say to Arta’s question above that Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is a great place to start for beginning jazz listeners. There’s a reason it’s the number one jazz selling album. I also think beginning listeners can connect with Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Dexter Gordon, Paul Desmond, Grant Green (guitar) for starters. Of course for big band, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

    • Arta

      Pat, Thank you so much for your suggestions! With the Christmas season upon us, I find myself in a peculiar position–trying to rid myself of “things” rather than acquire them–while my family is asking “what” they can get me for Christmas. You have just rounded out my Christmas list! I look forward to sharing my experience here. Thank you so much for your reply!

  • Arta

    WOW. I absolutely adored the jazz excerpt you posted. It was captivating. I can imagine a cool winter evening, a fire in the fireplace, a wonderful glass of wine — and jazz filling my home. I have always admired jazz–from afar. If I’m being honest, It has seemed somewhat inaccessible to me. But this website is about possibilities, eh? Do you have any suggestions of a musician, piece or album that would be a gateway to appreciating the genre? Jazz is a transforming experience when it is beautifully created … I’d like to broaden my horizons!

  • Arta

    I just listened to Middle Sea Jazz excerpt! WOW. I have always been fascinated by jazz … but largely from afar. The genre has seemed somewhat inaccessible to me … I’ve wondered where to start to learn, enjoy, appreciate this incredible musical tradition. I can picture my home, with the sun streaming in … breeze blowing through the open windows … and jazz filling the rooms. Does anyone have any suggestions on “classic” artists, pieces, performances that would be a good place to start?

  • Jazz Lover

    I never knew the words to Alone Together and I’ve played it 100’s of times.. Thank you. They are powerful lyrics and certainly fits the description of your Jazz Day experience. You have made a good observation: there is little or no ego among jazz players. In true jazz, the musicians become one or its not jazz. What a good model for all of our relationships, especially globally. I love your approach of encouraging the audience to connect and observe the musicians on stage before the concert. I have a memorable picture of your Jazz Day setting and experience. I hope you are producing another concert for International Jazz Day 2019. I want to be there. BTW, I noticed you are a featured International Jazz Day Organiser. Quite a compliment considering almost 200 countries and thousands of producers participated. Congrats, and thanks Lana for your stirring story.

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