The New York Jazz Festival was an authentic experience of musical expression. Incorporating the elements of different cultures, the festival featured an extraordinarily diverse and immensely talented band. The performance was directed by Tim Jackson, who led the band consisting of artists that had already established themselves as prominent jazz musicians. Namely, the band included “Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocals; Bria Skonberg, trumpet, vocals; Melissa Aldana, tenor saxophone; Christian Sands, piano and musical director; Yasushi Nakamura, bass, and Jamison Ross, drums, vocals” (Jazz Night in America).
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The unique combination of the artists that are traditionally featured as solo performers yet decided to cooperate to produce pure musical art was the main factor in choosing the specified performance for the analysis. Apart from the intelligent charm of the music, the collaboration of the artists and the cohesiveness between their actions, each representing a unique talent, created a genuinely indescribable feeling of delight.
As the title of the event suggests, the music performed by the band represented jazz in its purest form. Specifically, a substantial portion of the concert represented improvised music, with distinct elements of smooth and vocal jazz. The tonal aspects of the piece represent an impeccable harmony, with the music pouring out in a vignette of sounds. However, due to the unique approach toward collaboration that the festival means this year, each part of the composition allows every instrument to shine, which introduces diversity to the melody and enriches it with unique sound combinations.
For instance, the percussion that could be clearly heard during the first few minutes of the performance and gradually replaced by the sound of the trumpet as the winds take the lead to set off the unique vocals of the singer. The syncopation in the sound created by the band is particularly prominent in the specified piece, with the choice of the pace and the tonal changes deviating from the expectations of the audience as the listeners adjust to the tune. As a result, the melody catches the listeners by surprise each time, simultaneously retaining its harmony and representing the influence of the diverse band members.
When considering the time period to which the music belongs, one may find the analysis of the piece more complex than the consideration of the rest of its components. The songs performed by the band, as well as the music played by the artists, were clearly composed for the event and, therefore, can be described as contemporary. However, the impression that it leaves is quite mixed due to the incorporation of different subgenres of jazz and the tendency toward experiments with the nature of the jazz harmony and melody.
As a result, some of the stylistic choices made by the band harken back to the jazz of the 20s, whereas other aspects of it can be labeled as more recent additions. Nevertheless, the overall sound has been updated to create only a hint at the origins of the jazz tradition and create the platform on which a new sound can be built. Therefore, the period of the style in which the music was written is clearly very recent.
The beat is one of the key peculiarities of the performance since it varies significantly across the account. For instance, at some points, the bpm rate may reach approximately 120, whereas when the music is steered into the ballad territory, the number of bpm drops to about 70 (Jazz Night in America). The uneven pattern of the tempo helps to convey the sense of incredible variation and diversity, which is obviously the intent of the composer. Similarly, the dynamics of the music vary to a certain extent, allowing the performers to keep their audiences at the edge of their seats in anticipation of the part of the song that is going to be emphasized. As a result, the meaning of the lyrics and the narrative that it conveys shifts from explicit to implied, helping to represent complex metaphors.
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The performers seemed to interpret the music entirely in unison during their performance. All of them were in tune and played their parts impeccably, creating a sense of refinement and an exquisite, authentic musical experience. The piano player introduced a sophisticated rhythm into the song, accentuating essential elements that served as the primary emotional points of the performance. It seems that the performers communicated the music exactly the way it was intended by the composer, namely, representing it as an art form and a means of expression, as well as the lingua franca that can be used to convey a specific mood, emotion, or idea to any audience. I specifically enjoyed how the spotlight shifted from one performer to another, allowing each to shine and represent the event as the result of their combined effort.
Providing a unique experience that represented a mixture of different subgenres of jazz and allowing the viewers to experience pure emotion along with a sophisticated tune, the Monterey Jazz Festival performance was an unforgettable experience. I would love to hear these performers once again in the future. The authentic experience of jazz music as a melting pot of a multitude of cultures was truly invigorating and inspiring, which is why I would definitely recommend my family and friends to try listening to this performance as well. While the performance is impeccable as it is, communication with the audience between the songs to make, the event interactive could be considered as an option in the future.
Jazz Night in America. “Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour (Live in New York) | JAZZ NIGHT IN AMERICA.” YouTube, uploaded by Jazz Night in America. 2019. Web.