Monday, February 27, 2012

Music: A physical release

Isaac and I AFTER the Jazz performance (notice our relaxed smiles.)

  I've started noticing a pattern lately.  At the end of the week, by Friday afternoon, I am just frizzle-fried.  I've spent the entire week being a brave citizen--handling my work priorities, family priorities, and self priorities, and (meanwhile) accumulating stress and anxiety.  By Friday night, my body has accumulated a large amount of free-floating anxiety; I'm practically vibrating with a week's worth of stress. I need a break.

  Friday night is also the night when many musical performances are scheduled.  Oftentimes, the last thing I want to do is head back out again.  And even though I love my job and my colleagues so much, it can be a true mental challenge to come back on campus for an event.

 So last Friday was exceptionally ordinary for its type.  I was tired and so was my teenage son.  (In these instances, our usual pattern is that I'm sarcastic and he's got attitude.)  Getting to the Jazz Festival proved to be challenging.  We were both wound up tight.

  But Isaac plays the trumpet in his Jazz Band at high school, and I knew that it would be exciting for him to get to see college-age and professional musicians playing.  We called a truce and made it to Ardrey to see the NAU Jazz Ensemble and Combo perform with guest artist, Andy Martin.

  It was a fantastic concert.  The NAU Combo started with one of those avante-garde/free jazz pieces that are really challenging to listen to ("Gloria's Step," Composed by Scott LaFaro; Arranged by Thomas Willhoit.)  They are characterized by their complicated, arrhythmic improvisation and aren't my favorite jazz style.  But they do really get my attention, because they are new and present a musical novelty to me.

  I really liked "Bottom End Shuffle" which featured the "bottom-end" of the band (the big brass instruments.)  "Bottom End" is just about as close as it gets to my jazz ideal.  I really like Big Band Jazz--something that has a really catchy rhythm, nice, creative solos, and a old-timey feel that makes me envision that we're watching a live performance with Cab Calloway (or some other Big Band Leader.)

 Then trombonist Andy Martin took the stage, and his showmanship and talent were really arresting.  Isaac and I were both taken with the bossa-nova ballad "Black Orpheus."  When the microphone started squawking, Martin showed his real talent and jazz improv ability by moving around and finding the space that would work.

  By that time, I was really starting to unwind.   I have a hard time sitting still and actually listening to my body--how it feels and what it needs.  I've noticed that music holds me still long enough for me to check in.  As I hear the music, I slowly begin to hear my body, and each note is corollary release for each cell's worth of anxiety.

  And so however hard it is for me to get to each concert, the reward of being there is absolutely essential to my mental health.    

  It must be the same for Isaac.  After the concert, I let a huge sigh of release on the drive home.  Isaac looked over at me and said "I love you, Mummy." 

  I love you, Music.

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