Jazz is possibly the last place where the concept of spontaneous creation is still alive. The sheer excitement of not knowing what is going to happen next is hard to beat. This is the Whitney Balliett "Sound of Surprise" that all of the best jazz has.

If instrumental music turns you on (jazz is mostly purely instrumental), then you really owe it to yourself to investigate any number of its rivulets. Standard modern swing (of any type) might do it for you. Maybe the 'golden era' of the 50s and 60s raises the hair on the back of your neck. However, you might find that as your listening experience broadens, that records that push the edge, that are unpredictable, that challenge you preconceptions and expectations are more fullfilling. This is not to say that "mainstream" has nothing to say. On the contrary, there are many wonderful musician/composers who happen to create in an accesible language, which is the definition of mainstream. The key is the how individual the music is, how personal the expression.

As I continue this journey, more and more music that years ago I might have summarily rejected or at best thought weird is now what I seek out. And yet, there have been quite a few "mainstream" records recently that have been totally enjoyable with many layers to plumb. Yes, there is some music that is deeper than other music; there is high art and low art. What is beauty anyway? What turns you on?

Much jazz makes me want to cry from its beauty, its intensity, or the fact that my soul seems to be being touched by another. My intent in writing reviews is to make it clear to the reader how the record or performance affected me, and give an idea of how I felt at the time so that hopefully someone else might get turned on to it.

I want to thank Robert Rusch, the founder of Cadence, as well as Slim, who runs the record ordering service, and who is one of the most jazz knowledgeable people I know, for introducing me to the extended world of creative improvised music.  Years ago, Bob took me up on my offer to review for them and a whole world opened up. Each arriving CD became a entirely new universe to explore. Each day the horizon only seems farther away, as there is more and more music to experience and enjoy. Also deserving thanks is Robert Spencer for introducing me to Michael Ricci of AAJ when he could not finish a Between The Lines project and asked me to do it.