About ten years ago, I discovered 1920s and 1930s traditional jazz. The mix of cornet, trombone, and clarinet with the piano, string bass, and guitar (or tenor banjo) was exhilarating. I was already familiar with the clarinet from listening to Benny Goodman and his big band swing of the 1940s, but when I heard the New Orleans hot jazz sounds of Sidney Bechet, I thought, wow, this instrument doesn’t just make music…it sings right through your soul. It’s that feeling that makes the hair stand up on your arms and a tickle run down your spine.
Why is the world in love again?
Why are we marching hand in hand?
Why are the ocean levels rising up?
I learned the answers to these questions when I was in the 9th grade. It was 1990, and They Might Be Giants had just released a new album called Flood. Up until this point, my musical taste was quite stunted.