“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”
When jazz music plays, you can’t help but listen. It’s actually a requirement to listen, because if you treat it as background noise, you’ll miss the intention in every note. We love jazz singers, and many of them have very interesting—sometimes tragic—lives. Jazz musicians speak from the inner depths of their soul, allowing them the one outlet to truly express their sorry, grief, happiness, and love.
Did you know Billie Holiday was born in Philadelphia? Billie spent much of her childhood in Baltimore, Maryland and struggled in her childhood without a stable father figure—so much so that she was actually sent to a facility for troubled African American girls. She found peace and solace in music, and became well-known for her smooth, sultry, expressive, and rather melancholy voice after singing in clubs under the name “Billie.” Despite her immense talent, Billie struggled with objections towards her race which caused her to leave many white orchestral groups. She struggled with drug abuse, though her talent and stardom soared. Her final performance took place in New York City in 1959 before losing her life to the addiction which took a great hold on her.
John Coltrane was born in North Carolina and grew up enveloped in music. Toying around with the e-flat horn and clarinet as a young boy, John eventually switched to the saxaphone as his musical taste was influenced by musicians like Lester Young and Johnny Hodges. He studied music in Philadelphia and eventually served in WWII. Post-war, John began experimenting in different bands with many influential musicians. But it wasn’t until John played with the Miles Davis Quintet that he began experimenting musically. He eventually formed his own quartet. Unfortunately, Coltrane’s life was taken by liver disease. “Coltrane felt we must all make a conscious effort to effect positive change in the world, and that his music was an instrument to create positive thought patterns in the minds of people.” (www.johncoltrane.com)