A key skill for all jazz musicians is to be able to listen. Taking in sounds, melodic shapes, harmonic colours, rhythmic patterns, nuance and expression. Listening to the offerings given up by fellow musicians, processing their intent and invitation, in order to respond in kind, contributing to the development of the music, conversation, dialogue.
Of course, a magazine about music will mention listening, but there are some particular moments that resonate for me in this edition. For instance, Hayley Egan shares a powerful and personal moment of listening to the radio: “I feel a part of something bigger than myself.”; Boston saxophonist, advocate and broadcaster Ken Field reminisces of cranking up the volume on the big studio speakers during his 3am college radio days; Ashley Cross explains how practice is developing a relationship with music as a listener.
Listening often requires slowing down, taking time out and even relinquishing control. It is giving space to someone or something else to offer something. It is being open to the possibility of something surprising or unexpected about the offering.
Jazz is an artform where listening is developed, encouraged and extended for both practitioner and consumer alike. And for full appreciation, it is vital that all voices are given a chance to express themselves and be heard. And indeed, it is expected that all voices will get this opportunity and that the music will be richer for each and every contribution.
With the impending national referendum to recognise Australia’s First Nations peoples in the constitution and enshrine the notion of an advisory voice for them to parliament, I implore you to consider how much richer our nation will become by accepting the invitation extended by the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Let’s seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make history.