It’s getting closer. Anticipation is seasoning the season. Time is becoming more fluid each day. I rush to the post office. I remember something I’ve forgotten and know I only have so many days to do it, get it, write it, wrap it. There’s a pressure leading up to the 25th, which is entirely of my own making and whose consequences are all self-imposed and imagined and will only be known to me. That’s not just a holiday thing, but a lot like real life.
Leaving aside big questions of reality, this increasing intensity is offset by the knowledge that for a couple of days and, to a lesser extent, the days between Christmas and New Year’s, time will also expand and slow down. It will be what it is and I’ll be able to leave behind whatever concerns I’ve had and lie around, take some deeper breaths, and, maybe even take a nap.
In music, time is at the core of things – rhythm, pace, the snapping of the fingers, as Poirot would say. Feeling the beat, feeling the spirit of the piece. When the players know the song/tune/carol so well that it is in their bones, when the melody and the changes have been played and experienced so many times, year after year, improvisation, like parody, is possible.
Mode Three is Jazz. Taking the familiar and messing with it. Exploring. Taking the elements and doing something new and of the moment, while staying true to the spirit of the original. Improvisation. Christmas and the songs of the season, which have entered everyone’s subconscious, are perfect for jazz. Check this out.
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum Dave McKenna
Let It Snow! Marcus Roberts
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear Carla Bley
The feelings of Christmas are all over the map and can also inspire new composition. This piece by Steve Lacy and friends captures parts of the spirit, beauty, and sentimentality of a time that can be joyous, sad, intimate, and lonely, all at once. A range of feeling occasioned by the celebration of a birth and the passing of the year.
A Merrier Christmas Steve Lacy