Monday, December 17, 2007

Jazz Letters

I received an e-mail from Kevin, my friend who teaches at the Zhanjiang Normal College, about an interesting class he held last week. Kevin played the following jazz songs in his Western Culture course:

Duke Ellington -- "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"
Bessie Smith - "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl"
Sarah Vaughan - "I'm in the Mood for Love"
Ella Fitzgerald - "Ain't Misbehavin' " and "I Only Have Eyes for You"
Billie Holiday - "All of Me" and "The Way You Look Tonight."
Etta James - "The Very Thought of You"
Nancy Wilson - "Call Me Irresponsible"
Rachael Ferrell - "I Can Explain"

He asked the students to respond in writing to the songs; below are their thoughts on jazz music:

It is hard for me to tell you the truth. I nearly got sick after listening to jazz. That must be a long time for me to listen to it once more. So, I want to tell you that no more jazz please. - Khaki

So when you show us jazz. I was shocked. I seldom listen to it. At the first time, I could not stand the shrill voice of the singers, though I knew it was really great of them to sing like this. - Snow I do not like jazz, but on the other hand, I do not hate it. - Alice

After I heard the jazz music you played last week, I have to tell you that I hate jazz. I honestly do not know why I hate so much about jazz, but whenever I hear it, it makes me want to pull out my hair. Really, no idea why. - L. C.

I really hate the jazz you showed last time. The jazz sounds terrible. Sometimes, it is slow and loud. Just like the noise. They made me feel sick. I couldn’t bear it. I’m sorry to tell you that I dont want to listen to these kind of music anymore. I hope you can show us more folk music or pop music. - Dream

It makes me feel very sad and depress. Like having rain alone at a cold winter night. - Swirly

I can still remember that you presented some jazz songs for us last Wednesday afternoon. At a word, when listen to music, Jazz is not my choice. - Rachel

The music you play in class last time is quite different. Maybe I just listen to tune without lyric before. This time we heard the lyric. The lyrics is nice, but the singers always change their melody suddenly, this made me feel uncomfortable. - Kiwi

In jazz, some voice is exaggerated and it make me bored. It is like a river is stifled by cold weather in winter. To sing jazz, I think one need to take a good breath since some voice last so long. - John

Listening to music is my favorite. But after spending two classes researching American Jazz. I realize that not all music are good for me. It is not noisy enough like rock and not elegant like classical music. Actually, I don’t like it. - Betty

The rhythm of Jazz is so gripping that I shine in it. What is ridiculous to me is that I regard myself as the heroine, falling in love with Mr. Right or breaking up with Mr. Wrong. Actually, I like pondering upon my problems or planning my future life with songs going on. - Bonny

Hearing so many sweet jazz music. I was most carried away by the song “The Very Thought of You.” Even now, I still can feel the melody, ringing in my ear. - Yoyo

All of the songs are wonderful and attract me. However I like “Call Me Irresponsible” by Nancy Wilson most. It sounds very soft. It seems that the wind is crossing. The voice is perfect. I like love songs. I like this song. - Max

I really appreciate it for the wonderful Jazz in the last period. In fact, it was the first time that I had listened to Jazz, which impressed me very much. When I enjoyed the songs, especially “ I Only Have Eyes for You”, I could not help imagining that there were two lovers sitting in a relaxing place for dinner and drinks with the beautiful Jazz music. - William .

I love Billie Holiday’s songs very much, and I appreciate her. Her voice is like the sound of the wind, slowly and sadly, deeply beating my heart. Her songs sound like the sound of paradise. It completely understand my feeling. She sang the songs not by voice or throat, but by using her heart to feel and love and the world. - Miffy

It is also said that jazz helps us to improve our sleep and memory. - Sukin

Compared to Chinese rhythm, it is quite different. The singers always shout at the top of their voice and then drop to the bottom of the valley, which makes me tense up all the time. Chinese songs are rather smooth and relaxing. It helps refreshing one when he is tired or nervous, which appeals to me very much. - Crystal

Jazz is different from our popular songs, and all of us showed diverse mood. When I study song’s words, “All of Me” teaches me love deeply. I’m completely absorbed by the words, “Can’t You See I’m No Good Without You.” - Yane

I like the song “I Only Have Eyes for You” by Ella Fitzgerald. Ella has a wonderful sound and the lyrics of the song is excellent. People can’t see a thing in the sky, they don’t know whether the stars is out or the moon is high. What’s more, they don’t know where they are. How sweet jazz is! - Milk

That was my first time to hear jazz. But I am very sorry to tell you that, actually, I did not enjoy all the songs you gave us last class. When listening to them, I really felt that they were totally different from the songs I have ever heard. They are so terrible that none is suitable for my taste. However, I quite appreciate their words, which are so beautiful and moving, especially one called “All of Me” by Billie Holiday. - Betty

Here is some good news for you. I really fond of the song, “I’m in the Mood for Love” which you showed us. The lyrics and the tunes are amazingly wonderful. Besides, Sarah Vaughan’s deep voice adds to my love of the song. - Butterfly

It was not for the first time for me to listen to jazz. I have been exposed to it when I watched movies. Due to the fact that jazz was always played in some exclusive restaurants, it impressed me as songs for these elegant people who came from high level societal status. Now my opinions are changed after my further understanding towards jazz. I learn that jazz was originated from the black slaves in America. They created this kind of music to express their deep-in-heart feelings and relax themselves after exhausted work. - Canvass

I have seen many American films with a scene that a person enter a tavern and find a band playing jazz there. Another thing that when I listen to the Jazz, I always think of some songs appear in some movies about people’s lives in the old days of Shanghai. Perhaps the songs were influenced a lot by Jazz at that time. - David

Actually, I do not know much about jazz. My favorite singers are Avril Lavigne, Westlife, Black-eyed Peas, Linkin Park and so, so numerous. - Michelle

This was the first time I listened to so many jazz music. I was so enjoyable that I couldn't stop dancing, but I had to control myself. – Anny

Frankly speaking, I had no idea about jazz and never listened to it before. They sounds nice to me! As the famous saying goes, “Music is the art of life, the good medicine for a bitter heart, the source for a creative head.” - Alice

After class I went to the Internet for more understanding about jazz. To my surprise, jazz is initially formed in America, not France. I used to regard jazz as a kind of France music because of its romance. - Ansia

I noticed that jazz music is used in all kinds of films widely. For example, in a popular China film, an old jazz singer Nat King Cole’s music attracts large amount of Chinese people. – Jenny

When do you sing the jazz song for us? - Dolly

If it’s modern, I think I’ll accept it reluctantly. – Sherry

CHESTER'S LETTER:*********************************
Dear Kevin:

How are you doing? I have something wonderful to tell you.

Last Wednesday, I had a peculiar experience in our class. I had been to a large ship which looked luxurious and splendid. There was a ballroom and I was sitting by the bar.

It’s not crowd, but beautiful girls were not a little. I was tasting my red wine and falling into the music. The song was soft, graceful and made me crazy, just like a girl do.

She has a long hair, pretty face. Once one had met her, he must not forget it. Her voice was sweet. If one heard it when he was down, he must be all right soon. I urged to know her even though I knew it’s my imagination.

In the moment, I saw the girl. She just stood in the center of the ball.

"Yes, she is the girl,” I shouted. She must be the reason why God made the girl, if God is a girl, she must be as nice as the girl.

I came to her and open my mind to her. She smiled, just like an angel.

I was so excited that forget to ask her name. I just wanted to dance with her. She didn’t reject my request. We were dancing, dancing, getting out of everything, there were only us in the world.

We stopped until the ball was going to end. This moment I remembered to ask her name. She beamed and told me, Vera. What a nice name!

Suddenly the music was stopped,

“Jazz class is over. Please write down what you thought about the songs and hand it to me next week.”

Oh, gosh! I came back to the class, and the girl who was in the ball disappeared. If I had to choose again, I never wanted to wake up. This will be a fantastic memory. Vera, I will remember the name forever.

Kevin, thanks for the class. I love jazz very much.



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