My 12 year old son, Jake, plays the saxaphone. He's a pretty talented player for a 12 year old and he really enjoys it. He started out with an alto sax and then decided to try tenor, which he really loves. He plays all kinds of music from classical to christmas carols to popular songs.
Until this evening, his exposure to jazz was limited to the sheet music compliations his teacher gave him and the little that I'd bribed him to try and listen to in the past. However, all that is about to change.....HAS changed, really.
I downloaded John Coltrane playing 'In A Sentimental Mood' and played it for him. I swear that for a moment there I thought his head was going to explode (and it wasn't because he has a head cold). His eyes lit up, he grinned wide enough for me to see all his teeth, and he asked who was playing....so I told him. I told him who John Coltrane was, what he did, why he was important. I played him some Miles Davis, and then I played him some Duke Ellington, explaining to him each time who they were, what their contribution to not just jazz but modern music in general was (is). I said that I'd download some more and put them on his mp3 player, and that if he really liked we could go see Miles Davis' star on the St Louis Walk of Fame down in the Delmar Loop and see if we can't find an authentic St Louis jazz show to go to.
He did the little happy dance that he does when he's really pleased and excited about something and said yeah, he'd LOVE that, that it'd be SWEET and when can we go? Tomorrow? The next day? Can I download those songs overnight and can he listen to them on the way to school tomorrow? Can he play them for his music and band teachers?
His joy... it has stunned me. It makes me incredibly happy and proud of him, and it's enough to bring tears to my eyes. He might think that he's on the cusp of adulthood, but tonight when I saw that childlike, innocent joy on his face when he heard Coltrane for the first time I was reminded that he is still a boy. A big boy, yes, but a boy all the same.
My son, the saxaphone player.