A wide variety of bands and artists offered interpretations of well-known tunes as well as completely new original ones. There was a great sense of community in the festival, a shared sense of both enjoyment and purpose. That purpose was a creative one, working together to produce great music dependant on the great tradition of jazz music but producing something new and fresh. There were some real highpoints in the music when you just knew you were hearing something extraordinary, something which really affected you, even changed you. For me those moments were spiritual moments where I felt one with the music, one with everybody present and actually one with the extraordinary creativity in the world that can produce such music and so many other things too. All of it based upon established chords and patterns which can be woven together to produce something exciting, beautiful, peaceful, playful, rhythmic – the blending of established forms and structures with new improvised sections, the band working together and also providing the basis for wonderful solo improvisations.
You might say “what has this got to do with Transition?” Everything. This is how life works, building on what we know, what we have done or experienced before but reaching deep into our creative selves to express something that is not only new but relevant, even necessary, as a response to this moment, this time in history. Perhaps we approach the Transition moment (the ‘Great Turning’), as we become increasingly aware of the challenge of peak energy, climate change and sustainability issues. This time calls for us to be awake to everything we already know but also to come up with new extraordinary creative responses and technologies. We can return to some established practices like learning how to grow local organic food but also come up with new technologies that may make a huge difference.
I have this paradoxical mixture of concern and hope. I think we live in a Reality which is extraordinarily creative and has great capacity to respond, to evolve. My own faltering attempts to learn to play jazz piano are similar to my attempt to understand the Transition issues and learn how to respond to them in my own personal life but also in the communities that I belong to. There are some established approaches that others are pioneering and I can learn from. But there is a need for me to have a go, to learn and eventually with others in community to come up with a harmonious human response to the issues that we face together. I’m all for this Transition Jazz.