Koktebel (Crimea) : Jazz -- a genre with the ability to embrace varied cultures -- has evolved exponentially in the past century-and-a-half and is today a major form of musical expression. But what is it that exactly gives a "jazzy characteristic" to a musical note?
Some of its foremost practitioners, who assembled at this scenic beach town recently, have different ways of defining it. if it's "dance music" for one, "broad in its scope" for another, and a "vehicle to make people happy" for yet another, the search for what the musical form means to its practitioners remains elusive -- and yet it is so dear to them all.
At the "Koktebel Jazz Party", organised here last month, jazzy instruments such as the saxophone, trombone, trumpet, and piano were played to the beats of different music styles to create different kinds of fusions as musicians from over 20 countries participated in the annual extravaganza.
Jean-Paul Maunick, 61, a founding member of British acid jazz band "Incognito", quipped that jazz originated from the blues.
"Blues is the music that people played to express their sadness, to tell stories about dire lives. Then jazz came along, which was more instrumental, more free, the music created for dancing.
"Jazz is like the first dance music for me. Free dancing, where you show free expression. You throw your body but nobody is doing the same two steps. There is choreography if you want it, but most jazz music is about free dancing. The music, dancing and conversation between musicians is like that," he shared.
For Maunick, jazz is not just "an intellectual thing" -- while it may be true that jazz is a "thinking man's thing", it is also a way "to just express yourselves".
But is jazz all about dancing? It certainly is not, or at least that is how Rajeev Raja, the founder of Indo-Jazz music band from Mumbai, "Rajeev Raja Combine", perceives it.
"It is not necessarily about moving. I wish to go back to the era when we used to listen to an entire album and keep listening to it. Jazz is very broad in its scope and execution. There certainly are elements like swing, but there is much more to it," he told IANS.
At the festival, there were a group of American musicians who came together for the second time after performing first in Moscow. They performed under the label, New York All Stars.
The drummer of New York All Stars, Carl Allen, grew up playing all kinds of styles but settled at jazz.
"That's the kind of music that excites me. That's the kind of music that makes me happy. I try to use it as a vehicle to make other people happy. Everything is cyclical. A lot of things we hear now, people call it new but it is not really new It has been done before. It's just a process. It's always a cyclical process where people are putting together R&B, soul and jazz. That happened in the 1960s, 70s too," he told IANS.
Music, as they say, cannot be contained within walls. It's definition too is broad and different for different people, or so it seemed at the three-day festival that aimed to celebrate all things jazzy.
(Mudita Girotra was in Crimea at the invitation of the organisers of Koktebel Jazz Party. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)