Originally created 01/07/01

Locals look at mystique of jazz



We asked some members of Augusta's fine-arts community to share their opinions on jazz. Each was asked the following questions:

1. Who, for you, represents the peak of jazz perfection? What jazz artist keeps you coming back time and again, and which piece do you feel personifies their work?

2. To what do you attribute the continued success of jazz as a musical form?

3. What effect has jazz had on your life?

Here's what they had to say:

Amy Meybohm, executive director, Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art

1. Jazz perfection has been achieved by some of the greats. I immediately think of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday. When one hears these artists, it is as if they are present. Their impact is remarkable. A recent release of Herbie Hancock playing Gershwin's greatests is a favorite.

2. The continued success of this music form stems from the jazz musician's ability to achieve musical abandon. The instruments - both voice and percussion - seem free, without boundaries.

3. Jazz brings me up and makes my toes tap.

Rudy Volkmann, artistic director, Augusta Jazz Project

1. Asking me who my favorite jazzer is is like asking me who my favorite `legit' composer is - no way to pinpoint. Sometimes it's (Stan) Kenton, sometimes the Duke (Ellington) or (Count) Basie. I really like the "cool" jazzers like Geri Mulligan, but sometimes nothing does it like Chic Corea.

2. Jazz continues to be successful precisely because it encompasses such a wide variety of individual and collective styles; it is constantly evolving; and there is always room at the top.

3. Jazz affords me a creative outlet in all three of my musical interests (composing, conducting and performing). It allows me to interact with other artists whom I respect and allows me to make an impact on the arts community.

Coco Rubio, owner, the Soul Bar

1. John Coltrane is my favorite jazz musician and his 4-CD box set, Live at the Village Vanguard, is incredible. It captures the power of his music and band.

2. It's very inspirational music, in my opinion. When you see a truly great jazz group performing live - improvising, soloing, moving together as one through a song - you begin to see how intricate jazz really is. It sounds simple, easy and familiar, but at the same time jazz is probably the most challenging music to play, and I think that's why you have to respect it.

3. There is something about jazz that impresses me every time I listen to it. Jazz can be super mellow and relaxing, or it can be ultra-hyper and psychedelic. I am hoping that my daughter, Maya Lucia, takes up an interest in music like me and maybe does something I could never do, like play piano in a really good jazz quartet. We listen to lots of jazz at home, and when Maya was in utero we played lots of jazz in the house in hopes she would come out swinging. She did.

Brian Cote, painter

1. I would have to say that Dave Brubeck is an excellent choice as a representative of jazz perfection. His music is innovative, intelligent and timeless. A sure standout, and probably his most defining piece of work, is the track Take Five.

2. Jazz continues to be a successful musical form because it is what it is. It is music in its purest form, full of emotion and primal force.

3. I think jazz as I think of painting. Jazz seems to me to be constructed in the same manner as a painting, or at least the way in which I paint. The structure of jazz is always built on a solid foundation. But it is not the foundation the listener is usually attracted to. It is the layers, the overall feel or rhythm. All of the elements, when put together well, create a sound sensation or, in the case of a panting, a visual sensation.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.