Saxophonist Dan Bennett
Jazz is so much more approachable than you might think. The whole clapping after every solo thing? It used to feel silly to me. Now it's natural. In fact I was at a classical music performance recently where it felt unnatural not to clap after the solos. Live jazz is a community activity. The members of the audience are looking into one another's eyes during the playing, appreciating the music together, acknowledging the shared references--love, hard work, God, internal suffering, hope, all of it. It's different from rock 'n' roll; we're not just an audience, we are all here together, and the musicians are playing our feelings, right at this moment we are collectively experiencing them. And if you don't clap after each solo, nobody cares; it's come as you are.
I've talked to Dan after shows. Sometimes he is exalted, sometimes he feels he's done poorly; he's an artist. To me, though, it's all the same: a musical experience of the highest order, something that touches my soul and brings me in, exactly like real life when I'm really present. I personally am so grateful for my recent encounters with live jazz in Ann Arbor. I'm a tremendous fan of live music--it's where I regenerate myself. Jazz is a different language than I'm used to, but it's accessible, and fulfilling in the best way that live music can be.
Dan Bennett plays at the Elks Lodge every Thursday evening and Rush Street every Sunday night with a varied group of amazing musicians.
[Originally published in July, 2013.]