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Jazz Is For Rainy Days

Spring has gone rogue and my wife has decided to blame me since blaming God is a fruitless exercise. Besides all the natural disasters occurring around the clock around the world, locally, it is freezing and very wet for the end of May. Believe me, if I had that kind of power I definitely wouldn't be wasting it throwing the seasons out of whack.

I love rainy days and very few people in my life understand why. The summer before my senior year of high school I was on lunch at a job when the storm of all storms erupted while I walked back to work from a hot dog spot (Chicago's famous for them). Lightning began to crackle around me and a bolt touched down on the roof of a squat building as I passed it, sending a black plume of smoke skyward. In response to this, I took off sprinting full speed, squealing the entire way back to work. Strangely, I lost my fear of the rain afterwards and have since only feared the rain one time --- I was was in Philadelphia with a fraternity brother and he and I found ourselves in the middle of a storm on his 22-footer out on the Delaware Bay reenacting a Gordon's Fisherman commercial (I was certain I was going to die).

Back to the rain (not to be confused with a torrential downpour): it's soothing. It slows life down to a reasonable pace, slow and smooth like a jazz ballad, melancholy, painful, powerful, insightful and pressed with so much passion it just takes you there each and every time you hear it. Jazz icons like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Oscar Peterson possessed that ability to create a moment with music and immortalize themselves within it. Kind of Blue by Miles is the number one selling jazz album of all time and one of my all time favorites. The Gentle Side of Coltrane compilation and Speak No Evil by Wayne Shorter don't fall too far behind. Theirs is the music for a rainy day. Put one of these guys in your CD player or your on your iPod and let the day just melt away.

Contemporaries of note who fall into this same category are Terrance Blanchard, Joshua Redman, and Jeremy Pelt. Redman's Moodswing is the perfect album for a rainy day and Jeremy Pelt is a cat not much younger than me who plays his trumpet like a very old soul. Weird Nightmare and Haiku are compositions that sound ripped from the past and not created a few years ago.

I'm very thankful for my father who browbeat me into Jazz. Jazz, as it was explained to me a couple years back by Fred Smith of the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band, "is classical music 'jazzed' up." And Jazz definitely has that effect on what would otherwise be a dreary, gray and rainy day.

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