The Oscars are here and La La Land is one of the projected winners in 2017. The light hearted musical puts a hopeful face on the American Dream, and on the dream of love. It also brings jazz back in the spotlight, something that hasn’t had much attention in the US in the past year, or correction, the past decade! The lead character, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a purist about jazz, struggles as a musician, and somehow finds his way to owning his own nightclub, bringing back a bygone era. Meanwhile, he falls in love, and must explain this music to Mia (Emma Stone). NOT easy to do. This is why I like the film. It breaks down the bold aspect of ego which is a huge attraction for a creative person, one for music, one for acting, into parts.
I used to be that purist. I was told I couldn’t “jazz up” my audition version of “My Funny Valentine” so I decided to proceed to a music major. Young and stubborn. I used to call non-musicians “civilians” and have often argued that the New Orleans Jazz Festival isn’t a real jazz festival because it now encompasses so many different genres of music. But I have walked back my opinion. It is New Orleans after all, the birthplace of jazz, and I am as much a civilian as anyone. Following jazz in any form is about the most socially responsible thing you can do because jazz has always been connected with diversity, democracy and social change.
That brought me to thinking of France. Today! The announcement that ultra right wing politician Marine Le Pen is running for Prime Minister gives me the shivers. I disagree with the trend of nationalism, and it is bringing out a conservative side of myself. She has a bully style “Frexit or else.” So I want Macron to win, the centrist liberal and will be very relieved when HE gets elected. Macron=awesome. There are over 50 jazz festivals in France from May to July. You cannot travel through France at that time without stumbling upon one. Will this years have that awesome feeling? Or that hushed, shocked, reserved one?
Perhaps this world wouldn’t be in such crazy shape if we had maintained the complexity of learning more than three chords for a popular song – that jazz or classical music would still be the standard. If we didn’t simplify our musical norms, perhaps our free world norms wouldn’t have taken such a hit. Why did it take the civil rights movement to allow blacks to play onstage with the orchestra? To further discriminate, why did the McCarthur era have it’s “club cards,” that would allow or disallow a certain musician to play based on his ‘behavior?’ It was unbelievable. Had we not done it then, would we be doing it now? I don’t think so. I think stalkers like Bannon and TRUMP, who we see glaringly stalking our American norms, would have been out of a job by this time. And a church that told them the truth? Certainly the church of jazz would be a learning curve. Because jazz doesn’t lie.
Back to France…Europeans love jazz, and jazz brings people together. There are over 50 jazz festivals in France from May to July. You cannot travel through France (and July is off season/river cruise season but oh the deals and the music!). Will it be rife with heated arguments or will it be…awesome?
“why not care about jazz at a time like this?” Let’s get Macron elected and see!
My travel agency, Jazz Music Travel, a division of Claremont Travel is all about it, seeking to enhance your experience on a tour, custom trip or cruise, by plugging your itinerary into a jazz festival or concert during your stay in any destination.
Laurie Lucianne Scheid, in addition to owning a niche travel agency since 2009, also sings under the name [Lucianne Evans] for three plus decades of jazz from Pittsburgh to Montreal, where she was featured at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, to doing jazz in New York and Asheville, NC, where she teamed up with pianist Tom Coppola. Their record “Flamingo” was given the Blue Chip Award as one of the “Top Vocal CD’s of 2002” in the Jazz Education Journal, of the International Jazz Educators. She spent five years as the Secretary of the IAJE for North Carolina – involved in promoting good jazz artists in the South and elsewhere. She sites national jazz critic Dr. Herb Wong as a mentor and spends time penning and recording standard style originals and popular music.