17 April 26May 2, 2023 GEN NOW C-VILLE’s Monthly Guide to Navigating Senior Living Options in Central Virginia A P R I L A P R I L 2 8 2 8 7 : 0 0 P M 7 : 0 0 P M TER JAZZ DIGS JABA PRESENTS: JAZZ DIGS JABA PRESENTS:
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Miracle Music: Jazz as medicine for body and soul
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“Drums are the soul of Jazz music, “ says legendary local jazz trumpeter John D’earth, playing drums himself as he talked about a benefit concert he and the UVA Jazz Ensemble are doing for the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) this week,”...it’s the environment the music takes place in.”
For decades, the environment for that environment has been Miller’s on Thursday nights, where D’earth and those he’s taught, mentored, and collaborated with have played late into the night.
“Nothing lights up more parts of the brain than music,” D’earth told me in 2013. “Music is good for people, good for individual health and the community, and we need to make sure that everyone has access to it.”
A decade later, D’earth has become a JABA Board member, recognizing the importance of its mission to help older adults, caregivers, and families navigate the challenges that come with age, and one of the first things he did was organize a benefit concert.
“JABA is such an effective, powerful organization that helps so many people,” says D’earth. “And I thought, how great would it be to get the UVA Jazz Ensemble at the Paramount to support JABA with special guests.”
As musicians like D’earth have recognized intuitively, and researchers have determined scientifically, music really does light up the brain. Researchers at John Hopkins University have had dozens of jazz performers and rappers improvise music while lying down inside an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine to watch and see which areas of their brains light up. The brain has to do a lot of computing to make sense of music, whether you are playing or listening, and researchers have found that music can reduce stress, boost memory and mood, help summon energy and inspiration, and even connect people more deeply with their own bodies and the world around them.
“Music has a very healing energy,” says legendary jazz drummer Phil Young in a short film called “The Healing Power of Jazz.”
“It deals with a force. It’s vibrations,” says Young.
In New York City, while D’earth and company are playing at Miller’s on Thursday nights, Young and his fellow musicians are playing at Patrick’s Place in Harlem at the same time. Young’s gig was at the Lenox Saphire for years, but the famous jazz venue closed at the end of 2022.
Young describes the self-healing that comes with playing music, and the way it can heal others. He tells a story about playing at Walter Reed Hospital during the Vietnam War and how a depressed and wounded solider who’d lost his legs, his sight, and his hearing had a nurse wheel him to where they were playing after he felt the vibrations of the drums through his bedposts.
“He wanted to be close to it,” says Young. “Even though he could not hear and could not see, and he could not walk....he still had that sense of life.”
Last year, Justin Freed, an 85-yearold filmmaker from Boston, released a short film called “Jazz Saved My Life: a story of Art and Healing.” It’s a personal story about healing from family trauma, testimonies from other musicians about the art form, and a grateful love letter to the African-American musicians who created it, despite considerable obstacles, and the musicians of all races who continue to keep it alive.
“The truth is,” says Freed, “jazz is a miracle.”
Jazz Digs JABA, featuring D’earth, the UVA Jazz Ensemble, and French pianist Damien Groleau, who grew up in Charlottesville’s sister city of Besançon, France, takes place this Friday, April 28, at the Paramount Theater at 7 pm. All proceeds will go to JABA services and programs.
David McNair handles communications, media relations, and social media efforts for JABA.
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