Light upon the Village Vanguard seeps cool, translucent blues, releasing souls through sounds unheard but always spoken inside, the people witness with their heartstrings the motion of the time. It’s got this pulse, something indefinable at any moment but formative when you see the trees and the forest. Like the trees to the spirit of the earth, so too do these good people sway in natural leaning to the madness of it all, the crazy beautifulness of this raw something. This feeling of never being the same twice, of opening up unexplored worlds in unhampered time, creations of everything they’re thinking. In freedom it grooves and moves you in a way that you just wanna explode. You wanna jazz.
There is a new, hip book on ingenuity that denounces its ingenuity, but to prove a point. The Book “Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon is all about how we take ideas and concepts from another and fashion it, fold it, and fit it into our pocket to tout it as our own. The carte blanche is truly a misnomer as even the cleanest of slates has somehow been marked upon by our experience, by someone else’s writing (ironic how mine is now influenced by Kleon). This is especially true in the world of music.
Now I know we haven’t formally met, but I think I’m gonna dig you.
See, I’m a lover of jazz, an art form that is omnipresent simply because it is in almost every form of music. If you’re a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, get caught up in the funky stuff of life, feel the love of a soulman’s solo, lay down the beat on the hip-hop side of the street, or flow with the liquid lyrics of the rap emcee, then your pulse has a predilection for the two and four, the true American art form, the swing that means everything: jazz.
That’s right, each one of those art forms is but a reflection in modern day of the beat once laid down in the streets of New Orleans on a bluesman’s front porch. The roar of the ‘20s and the liberator of a whole race, jazz has left an indelible impression upon the foundation of our musical expression. Apollo is surely smiling (with a fedora doggedly restin’ on his brow) upon our city, as a wealth of this music has bestowed itself unto the vibrant and ever-changing ritma del San Antonio.
My appreciation of jazz in the Alamo City all began eight years ago, with the radio dial tuned in to KRTU 91.7 FM. My mother and I cruised around the campus of Trinity University listening to some be-boppin’ classic, “You know Adam, this is a great station, and you could broadcast for it someday,” she spoke with an inspiration in her eye. “Yeah, just picture it now, Adam ‘the Jazz’ Tutor!”
I smiled in affirmation of her witticism, slightly scoffing at the cheesiness of it all. Yet quietly to myself, I whispered it and into manifestation it came a year later. In a swivel chair, surrounded by a sea of vintage vinyl, my swingin’ baritone hit the airwaves as the public witnessed a persona in the making: “You’re listening to 91.7 KRTU and my name is Adam ‘the Jazz’ Tutor.”
What started as a silly suggestion has since become a way of life. As a student at Trinity University I was the passionate leader of the TU Jazz Ensemble, a member of the Swing Bums dance crew, and proud DJ for all four years of my collegiate experience. As an ambassador for the United States (and the music I love), I served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine from 2010-2012.
While abroad, the sounds of my saxophone were heard and shared with funky hip-hop dance crews on the streets of Kiev, Julliard-produced Balkanites on the shores of Bulgaria, Afro-Brazilian beach bums in the moonlight of Salvador, Berber desert men under the protection of Saharan sand dunes in Morocco, and of course, the hippest jazz cats of San Antonio.
So What? Aside from Miles Davis’ key expression from Kind of Blue, there is a reason why all of this is important to you. While not (yet) a heavy cat on the jazz stage in the community, my passion for the music is palpable (picture that dude from Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” carrying a boom-box, but I’m swingin’ to Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father” and making sure everybody learns the steps to my rhythm).
I am slowly defining myself in the jazz community, and my desire is to share with you this growth, so that you too will become a part of the definition.
The word is “soulzzafying,” and it means a feeling of soulful wonder in a swingin’ state. It is through such a lens that I will be sharing with you the ins and outs, the moves and grooves, the stages that are shone upon by the San Antonio jazz spotlight. As often as jazz is available on the menu, we’ll be embarking upon a journey together to get a taste of the powerful people purveying this often misunderstood art form.
This space is intended to inform and entice, educate and inspire, create a conversation around this music that has affected each of our lives. Whether joining in with Small World at Olmos Bharmacy, dancing to the groove of the Jim Cullum Jazz Band at Bohanan’s, or feasting on tapas and sangria to the soul-flair at Carmen’s De La Calle, I hope you’ll take a ride with me as we go on a Kerouacian exploration of the Alamo City. Life is always better on the road (well, the jazz one at least).
Adam Tutor is currently working at James Madison High School as a College Access Adviser for Trinity University’s Chapter of AdviseTX, a branch of the College Advising Corps. He also contributes developmental support to local nonprofit Dreams Fulfilled Through Music, an organization committed to providing musical therapy and performance to the special needs youth of Bexar County. When the sun sets, Adam is busy working on his new image in the jazz scene, both through playing his saxophone at local establishments, and developing his writing through his website-www.soulzzafying.com. Please feel free to join his blog and Facebook page, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.