Holidays are our nation's way of ceremonially celebrating it's most influential people and its proudest accomplishments. They are dedicated to the nation's founders, leaders, influential politicians, and pivotal events.
I think it's safe to say that music is one of the finest gifts to the world that the United States has offered. To quote House Resolution 57, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1987:
Whereas, jazz has achieved preeminence throughout the world as an indigenous American music and art form, bringing to this country and the world a uniquely American musical synthesis and culture through the African-American experience and...makes evident to the world an outstanding artistic model of individual expression and democratic cooperation within the creative process, thus fulfilling the highest ideals and aspirations of our republic...it is the sense of the Congress that jazz is hereby designated as a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood and promulgated.
I suggest that one great way to devote our attention, support, and resources to our native music idioms such as jazz would be to dedicate national holidays to our greatest musicians.
Perhaps for starters, we could make next Tuesday, September 23rd, "John Coltrane Day". John Coltrane was born September 23rd, 1926 in Hamlet, NC. On stage and on record, he traveled deep inside to bring back out for his audience virtuosic and hearfelt "sheets of sound". His music captured the complexities of the experiences and emotions conjured by life in tumultuous times. His music evolved from cries of despair to soothing cries for peace and ascension. His music has not only stood the test of time, it is timeless. He has influenced generations of musicians to search for diligent virtuosity as well as true expression.
Isn't that enough for one day of recognition?
This article is insightful and very well written. The problem is that there are so many deserving jazz musicians for whom days could be reserved. How to choose who to honor? Maybe it should be the musician who played the most notes during his or her career. Or perhaps the most notes per second per second. Either way, it's John Coltrane, September 23rd.
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