By nature, I’m a pretty effusive person. I enjoy seeing positivity in the world, and I like expressing my reaction to it verbally. Usually accompanying effusiveness is a predilection for hyperbole (which if you’ve ever been to a KCJO concert you’ve heard that action), and I’m never one to shy away from overstating something that doesn’t even need to be overstated. That said, it doesn’t feel right to be overly floral in describing how good it feels to look forward to taking the stage this fall with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, after a year plus on hiatus. There has been so much intensity of difficulty in the world, that sometimes it doesn’t seem like putting together a two hour-long concert fits into the grand scheme of things with a lot of importance. However, through all the time that I’ve spent studying Mary Lou Williams’s life and music, something that she was quoted as saying rings ever clearly in my heart and my soul, on the daily. She said:
“Americans don’t realize how important jazz is. It’s healing for the soul. It should be played everywhere.”
That’s saying a lot about something as seemingly trivial as music, isn’t it? “Healing for the soul.” Let’s think on that for a moment. The act of listening to music – really listening – does transcend how we are capable of describing the human experience, doesn’t it?
We are inundated with a multitude of things that don’t inspire our imaginations or enrich our spirits. Our jobs, the news, so forth. Even expressing ourselves on social media has become an act of sharing a meme that didn’t emerge from our own mind. We need some sort of enrichment to cultivate our own voice, and art and music is a gateway, an invitation, into the world of our own imagination.
Too much? Too Willy Wonka-y? Hang on, I promise I’m not trying to fly you all off into the cosmos. I’m just saying that when we look at a great piece of art or listen to great music, that creative work of the artist’s singular vision and imagination is shared to us, allowing an insight into the perspective of that creator. Feeling and empathizing with that creator’s perspective broadens the view of our own perspective, and through that sort of enrichment, well… we become more imaginative and artistic!
And that’s so cool.
So, even though it feels a little silly to start going on and on about how excited I am for our upcoming KCJO season in the face of all the difficulty of the last 15 months or so, I do want to warmly invite you to join us. Not because we want to sell tickets or show off what we’re doing on stage, but because we have such a beautiful opportunity to bring a little light, a little artistry, a little of our tiny perspective of the human experience, to share with you through our music. We want to make you feel good, to have that rush of emotion that accompanies really feeling some music that the folks onstage are also really feeling. We want to share that with you, over the course of our four season concerts, starting in October. I’ll speak a little bit about each one of them in more detail throughout the summer, but for now just wanted to share – overly effusive or not – that we at the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra are so, so excited to be back onstage. We’d love for you to join us.