REMEMBER YOUR ROOTS!
For those that are Catholic and Protestant, Ash Wednesday is on the 14th, which begins the season of Lent. For those of the Orthodox persuasion (and who shouldn’t be persuaded to become Orthodox?), Lent begins on the 19th, due to the use of the Julian calendar.
We used to celebrate the birthdays of both George Washington (Feb 22) and Abe Lincoln (Feb 12), but when we started the Martin Luther King holiday, we combined the two into one day celebrating “all” presidents. How’s that for a participation trophy? Let’s lift a glass and toast Millard Fillmore!
The month ends with the celebration of Purim. For those that have never attended either a synagogue or Sunday School, Purim is the Jewish festival held to commemorate the defeat of Haman’s plot to massacre the Jews as recorded in the book of Esther. It’s a fantastic story, and is a fitting example of holding true to one’s faith against oppressive governments, even at the risk of losing your life. Some things never change!
Mentioned last, but not least, is the holiday that is the true core of all of these other ones, Valentine’s Day. The tradition holds that in the 4th Century, Saint Valentine was persecuted by the Roman Emperor Claudius for marrying couples, as the emperor wanted his young soldiers to remain single (and therefore be better fighters). Valentine performed the services in secret, and when he was discovered, he was thrown in jail. Some things never change.
But things got interesting, as while Claudius tried to convert Valentine to paganism, the Christian was extolling the virtues of his faith. Because of this, he was lead to be executed but before being lead to his death, he performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. The daughter and the jailer’s 46 member household of family and servant became believers in Jesus and were baptized.
What do these holidays have to do with music? ARE YOU KIDDING?
First of all, each of these holidays point to the roots of one’s existence; either the beginning of one’s faith or one’s country. Washington risked his large fortune to make America free from the British tyranny, and Lincoln, in almost a messianic way, gave his life to free the slaves and keep our country unified.
Lent is the beginning of preparation for Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over sin and death. Purim also points to victory over anti-God tyrants, and Valentine’s day focuses on true love. Love of God and sacrificial love of one’s brother.
This ties into music in a very important way. You can be a great musician, have great chops and an encyclopedic knowledge of songbooks. You can be the greatest composer and write amazing pieces of art. However, if you don’t have love in the equation, as the Bible says, you are “a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.” If your music “moves mountains, but do not have love, (you) are nothing.” If you sacrifice your life for music and dedicate all of your free hours to perfecting your craft, “but do not have love, it profits (you) nothing.”
This month, we have interviews with Julian Lage and Dayna Stephens. They not only play well together, but have been friends for many years. It is this love for each other as long times buddies that makes their love for music all the more enjoyable. You can feel it in their music.
If you feel something’s missing in your listening or living pleasures. Try a little of of God, then others. You might like the switch, and everything, from sounds you hear to things you see, might just be appreciated a bit more.
Verily, verily, George, my resolution is to listen to more jazz in 2018, beginning with your top ten list of favorites. Thanks for the distinction between “best” and “beloved,” btw. I emphasize that difference all the time in rock.
Thanks for that amazing review in JazzweeklyYou nailed exactly what-we set out to do in song choices and arrangements
We tried to bring a fresh approach as well
But anytime someone puts me in the same space as Don Cornelius get a Huge hug from me!!!!
Again, many many thanks !