I’ll start by stating the obvious: jazz music is receiving less and less popularity in the minds of Nigerians.
Jazz happens to be one of those complex genres of music. It makes use of a lot of musical improvisation, conflicting rhythms, and interruptions in regular flow of rhythm. It also borrows a lot of aspects of African music and American pop. Needless to say, jazz music may prove very hard to understand and relate with, hence difficult to enjoy. Not everyone can understand why there is a song without any words.
It’s no wonder that the younger generation (of which I am proudly a part) will rather just listen to popular/mainstream type genres of music. Whilst this is not such a bad thing, I still strongly believe that jazz music can be enjoyed and is worth exploring.
Let’s share a few tips you can try out if you would be interested in dipping your hands into this genre of music:
Know that this journey is not about your friends
People usually revere people who can relate with jazz music because it is believed to be something for people of a particular level of intellect. So you may somewhat be tempted to go into jazz to impress your friends. Ask yourself; am I really interested in this? It’s not such a bad thing not to be! It’s about you! As tempting and elitist as it is to be able to speak about jazz and the artistes and what ‘this’ and ‘that’ jazz track means to you, you need to know that enjoying this genre is about yourself and not about impressing people. Else this journey will become like ‘homework’. You’ll only appreciate jazz if you set out to listen to it and love it for yourself!
Read about it
There are many materials out there that can gradually expose you to what you’re getting into. Read about the history of jazz, the old artistes, and the contemporary ones. Read about jazz in your own country and your own locality. What you will find will amaze you!
All types of music have their own peculiarities. Look out for those of jazz. The one beautiful thing that sets jazz music apart from other genres is ‘improvisation’. Jazz musician tend to play around with improvisations which means that they make up their music, their tunes, and harmonies up on the spot (More like a freestyle type thing)! This is why sometimes when you listen to jazz, it feels like the melody suddenly changes. To appreciate jazz, you need to observe the improvisations and how they’re used. Figure out the instrumentation. Listen to the melody. Observing and identifying will help you get into it even more.
Attend live jazz events
Whether it’s rock, soul, R and B, fuji, reggae or jazz, a live experience is the best way to enjoy it. Look out for events happening around you where jazz artistes are performing. In Lagos, I’ve heard of Jazzhole in Victoria Island (even though I have never been there). I also know of Inspiro Productions’ Annual Lagos Jazz festival and Lagos Jazz Series. Find yourself in such events, and this will help improve your experience
Find other lovers of jazz
Just like every other interest, talking to other like-minded people helps you grow even more. So join a social a social media group, follow a page or a blog. Share your experience. If you do meet a local artiste who would like to be your friend, that’s even better! Talk to him or her about their work and their inspiration. Let them tell you what they were think at a particular event, or while recording a particular track.
I do hope these tips help and will help you open your mind to receive more jazz music.
Sometimes I like to make up my own words to their instrumentation. It helps me feel like I’m in the head of the artiste!