The Deep Joy of Jazz

October 01, 2006

by William Edgar

I once asked my dear grandmother to describe her philosophy regarding jazz music when she was a young mother. Her answer was interesting: She liked the music, and even thought dancing to it was healthy. But she would not let her children go out to the typical jazz joint, for fear they would be corrupted. That was in the 1920s.

Undoubtedly, jazz has mixed connotations for people in any generation. For some, it is the devil’s music. For others, well, it’s simply not their taste. The word itself probably testifies to an element of racism. When some white folks first heard it, they called it “jackass music.” Blacks played the music with such wildness and exoticism that it was unlike anything they’d ever heard. Take away the ck and you get the older word for this music, which was called jass. And yet when others heard it, they thought, we’re saved. For them, jazz was the greatest music in the world, because we finally had a form of music that was fresh, recognizable, and full of rhythm and vitality. It was an answer for the overly abstract, modern, avant-garde music that everyone liked, except the audience.

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Read More On culture, Jazz, joy, music

William Edgar

Dr. Edgar (DThéol, Université de Genève) is professor of apologetics at WTS.

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