I heard trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra at the Barbican recently. They played a string of bebop classics from composers like Neal Hefti, Charles Mingus, Ernie Wilkins, Gerry Mulligan, and some of the later works by Duke Ellington and his composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn.
It reminded me why I love jazz so much. I’m sure this has been said many times before, but no other form of music manages to exemplify so well the meaning of human freedom, as something that hovers between those two elements of the human condition: on the one hand, order, structure, necessity, tradition; and on the other hand, chaos, innovation, creativity and chance.
When you see the soloist stand up from within the orchestra and take the music in a direction that even he doesn’t know where it is going to go (this orchestra was uniformly male). When his improvisation reaches some sublime heights without betraying the rhythm and tonal structure of the piece. And when the solo finally finds its way back into the formality of the notes that are written on the page, and the player sits down to become again just one part of the ensemble. Then you have an insight into the true meaning of freedom.
Here is the Jazz at Lincoln Center promo:
And this video gives a better feel for some of the music: