Although I write at length about artistic excellence, about what is good and what is bad, what is worthy of regard or deserving of dismissal, I understand that gauging the merits of one excellent artistic endeavor against another is difficult, if not impossible.
While I do have a system – based in research, education, deconstruction and logic – that allows for a reasonably considered opinion, I know that every time I label something as good or poor, I’m presenting my own somewhat myopic view. Mine, at least when writing, is a carefully considered opinion, but it is still just that – an opinion.
When I write a review, I try to remain distant, to turn appreciation into an intellectual exercise. Every statement must be backed up. Every thought recorded based on rigorous analysis.
But the truth is, I often become enamored with certain things – say music or movies or artists – for the same reasons everyone does when they find a favorite. I feel a connection, an attraction that doesn’t stand up to any sort of analysis.
I love things for no other reason than I feel like they are deserving of love.
I’m sure that, at some level, the J.A.M.P. Masters, the band assembled by the James Brown Family Children Foundation as an educational tool for area kids, would stand up under any sort of intense scrutiny I may want to apply.
J.A.M.P. stands for James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils. The members are talented and intense in their preparation. They are taught well and taught right and the songbook the band draws from, that of the Godfather himself, is incredibly deep. But what I find appealing isn’t the band’s ability to execute the complicated arrangements. What I find appealing is the innocence with which it plays.
As deeply funky as the band gets – and it does get funky – there’s always an understanding that these are children, children who are finding raw, untempered joy playing music together. I love the J.A.M.P. band not because it is good, but because it has soul.
Currently, the band is working to raise its fiscal profile through a contest looking for the greatest high school band. The SchoolJam USA contest is sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants. The winner is chosen by popular vote and receives a trip to Europe to perform at SchoolJam Germany, a music video shoot, $5,000 toward members’ school music program and $1,000 for an equipment purchase. Not bad.
But J.A.M.P. needs some help. The band has done respectably in the polls – and made it to the semifinals – but respectable isn’t enough. You can vote every day through Nov. 30 by going to schooljamusa.com and searching JAMP. The band deserves it and I, as a fan, would appreciate it.