I used to be a big fan of jazz. I listened to jazz most every day, I owned some nice vinyl, I knew tons about jazz from 1939-1960. Then, I slowed down. I listened less and less, sold some of my records and cds. I eventually stopped listening to music in general, barring the occasional car trip or interesting song I'd choose to plug into my ipod. I'm not sure exactly why, though I suspect a busy schedule and kids made enjoyment of sound a problem. Children are noisy, and I imagine I wanted quiet. Or maybe I got bored with my choices. Either way, I stopped. Recently I unearthed some of my digital music files I'd stashed away, including some of my jazz. I only kept the greatest hits, like Coltrane and Charlie Parker. Some Mingus made it to the computer.
Oh, I didn't know what I was missing. It's heaven. Perfect music. I realize why I fell in love with it in the first place. Unlike my other musical interests, there isn't a narrative. No story, just intensity. I'll always have a soft spot for bluegrass, or country, or early punk rock. It's fun. But jazz is music. It's analogous to the feeling I get when I compare baseball to other sports. I love other sports. I enjoy watching them with friends, and cheering for different teams. But baseball is the game, it is powerful in a way that others don't approach.
I wish I understood exactly why I drifted away. Maybe it was a necessary change, a chance to better understand why I loved it. I'm almost glad I did, in a way. It gave me the opportunity to jump back in and see what is so amazing about it. Now I need to run around to used music stores and gather up my old favorites. I can no longer live in a world where Sketches of Spain and Blue Train aren't available at the click of a button. That'd be as bad as not knowing Ichiro's single season hits record.