I’m now going into my eleventh cold season here and I am a bit surprised about the amount of anticipation I feel about the ensuing winter. (I’m actually not kidding about this.) My favorite part of the cold season in Winnipeg is the time leading up to the holiday break in December. It’s the coziest time of year for some of us. This is the time when we seem to take all the things that we dearly love and wrap them tightly around us. My friends call it cocooning.
After the New Year is quite a different story, however. Late winter has come to represent a type of death and reincarnation for me. This is my time to reflect, refocus, and repurpose. It’s like a great big tension before the release into fair weather again. When deep winter has finally passed, I get a feeling like I’ve earned the warmth that is coming. Summer will feel that much sweeter after the experience.
We’re in the “information age,” according to many scholars. We have access to enormous amounts of information about every topic imaginable with just the swish of a mouse. My students sit in my classroom with their electronic devices and fact-check practically everything thing I say. They don’t mind correcting me when I’m fudging it a bit either. I don’t blame them.
There’s an information smorgasbord available these days. Now, you can know precisely what’s in the food that you eat (including those really-big-word ingredients). You can also know what those big word ingredients can do to you.
Everyone with access to a computer is inundated with enormous piles of cold and shifting data. Some of it is relevant and some is irrelevant. Some is current, then obsolete. We have fact checkers to check our fact checking. All this begins to feel like a wintering of the soul.
In the beginning I was cocooning. I greedily gathered facts about all the things I loved. But what came next? For me it was awareness—and the dying of old ideas. Though there were many sources of pride in my past, I’ve experienced huge amounts of cognitive dissonance, even to the point that I can no longer eat the same foods, drink the same fluids, or even watch the same programming without a pinch in my conscience.
Through it all music has become more relevant than ever. Jazz has the potential to give voice to the normally unheard. Jazz can turn a room of musicians into a flock of birds, swooping and turning and soaring together in harmony. Jazz is information, but it is not stale or rigid. It is information with context, with currency, with immediacy. It is the convergence of heart, mind and spirit in musical sound.
My hope is that we all get to experience something like this in our lives. To that end, I invite you to share my experience of jazz in Winnipeg through the pages of this free magazine.