Today is the first day of Spring. I first discovered jazz in the Spring... many years ago. This season always reminds me of my discovery and exploration of what was then a very new and exciting form of music for me. I was fully immersed in classical music at that time, but I had very recently discovered the Beatles and started down the path of rock music discovery. Jazz was right on it's heals. I played the violin in my high school orchestra. Our Music Director was a wonderful, charismatic man named Dr. Stephen Lawrence. Dr. Lawrence saw something in me that led him to believe that when the bass player for the jazz band graduated, I could step in and become the new bass player. Huh? Why me? I don't know ANYTHING about jazz. I don't play the bass. Dr. Lawrence said, "You play the violin right? Well, the bass is just like the violin...four strings, except upside down, and lower."
So my journey as a jazz bassist began in earnest. Along the way, I went to a record store (yes, VINYL 33 1/3 records) and picked out 2 records quite randomly. But as if by a miracle, both were quintessential jazz records that I still love to this day.
This all happened in early Spring of that year...1982. The records were "That Bop Thing" by Howard McGhee (1948) and "Joy Spring" (1954) by Clifford Brown. Both were trumpet players.
"Joy Spring" will forever capture the feelings I had during that exciting time of my life. This song still feels like Spring to me.
Last year, I read an interesting essay called "Clifford Brown: The Bach of Jazz." This was published the The Art of Music Lounge: An Online Journal of Jazz and Classical Music by Lynn Rene Bayley.
I will admit, I did not sense "Bach" when listening to Clifford Brown. But I could tell he was something special. But this essay really got me thinking.
Howard McGhee's record also means a great deal to me. This song also feels like Spring.