The question is the first one on the International Jazz Day Partner Interview form. It is the first time I answer the questionnaire and, honestly, I believe it is the first time I have been asked this question in such a direct way. Though one!
It is always difficult to explain the things that really matter, the deep truths we carry within us, but, ok, I shall face the challenge. Why do I celebrate International Jazz Day? Because I feel part of the jazz community (so far, so good).
And why do I feel part of this community? Now comes the hard-to-explain part… Ok, Geisa, do not overthink, just write what comes in your mind when you think about jazz.
Jazz gave me a formal freedom that was immensely important for my artistic development. Sometimes I feel that jazz is a code, a key, that opens many doors. Thelonious. Monk put it well when he said that “Jazz is freedom”.
Freedom that opposes any form of segregation, censorship or prejudice. Freedom that unites and builds dialogues. That is it! I got my answer!
I celebrate International Jazz Day because I celebrate freedom. As Ella sings in the George Gershin song: who could ask for anything more?
Be seeing you!
p.s. next week I´ll tell you HOW I will celebrate it this year
Rainer Werner Fassbinder explores, with his usual mastery, the theme of fear in such movies as Angst essen Seele auf (Fear devours the Soul, 1974) or Angst vor der Angst (Fear of Fear, 1975). In both cases, the protagonists need to deal with an urgency for change that collides with the fear of losing control of the situation.
What is your fear? Do not say you have no fear, because I will not believe you. So, starting from the premise that being afraid is part of the human (and not only) condition, let us talk about this feeling.
Fear has a bad reputation and yet it is very necessary in our life. In fact, like everything else, you just need to know how to use it in your favor. My technique for dealing with fear is as follows: I embrace the fear and break it down into several smaller fears that are easier to deal with.
A good way to start this process is to remember that fear releases several hormones, including adrelanine, which sends us a clear and direct answer (beat it!) and that can even be used as a driving force to move forward.
Our brain is always trying to protect itself/us from changes, because changes mean adjustments. And that includes the classic self-sabotaging thought: “Should I really do this?” which is your brain’s equivalent of saying, “Are we going to be as safe in this new condition, as we are now? It has nothing to do with cowardice, but with self-preservation.In other words: fear makes evolution possible.
That is why I deeply respect my fears, but also, precisely because I want to evolve, I try to calm my ever attentive brain. Right now, for instance, I am trying to convince it that confirming a lecture, two shows, a translation and an article for the end of the month will not lead to my extinction. Perhaps to extreme fatigue, but not to extinction.
The brain is very smart and it might take a while til it can be convinced, but with persistence and confidence I usually manage to make my fears so small, that they look like, I don know, like a battery. Yes, a battey I can use to provide me some extra “zing”, and feed me for my next conquest.
Be seeing you!
p.s. This is the 100th post by The Red Flower Press. Hurray! Thannk you for following us!
Do you think more people were more collaborative in 2020 just out of fear? My dear friend A., who is an amazing singer and songwriter brought this aspect of the pandemic to my attention on a recent chat, and her remark kept echoing in my head for a long time.
Her comment took me to a trip down memory lane. During 2020 we had contact with the best and worst in human beings. There were people sharing help and people fighting over a bottle of hand sanitizer. There were people searching day and night for a vaccine and people (a lot of people) spreading fake news to get likes on social media.
And there was this zone of common experiences, mostly very painful ones. The whole world was suddenly dealing with great charges of loss, fear and isolation. 2020 seems so far away from our current point of view, and yet, the sadness in our hearts is right there, so close that we can reach it with a simple comment on a chat.
We could not choose 2020, but we can decide if we will repeat it forever or if we will finally try (this time for real) to find a possible balance. Without great illusions or expectations, I sincerely ask myself whether it is still possible for some event that could fix us collectively.
We are full, crowded and crammed with individual “fixes”, but where did these small individual/individualist solutions take us? Are we doomed to repeat 2020 in cyclical intervals? I do not know about you, but I failed to find anything new about the new normal. Maybe it was just a great desire to break this vicious cycle that made me warn possible “competitors” about a new call for artists.
Here is the story: me and a bunch of other artists, we were in a room waiting to be called to sign our contracts with the city hall, in order to hand over the rights to exhibit our works (in my case, a videopoem). While people kept looking to their mobiles, looking totally self-absrobed I simply cannot contain myself: as if it had a mind of its own, my big mouth opens and spreads the news: “Hey guys, there’s another call going on, but hurry up, because the deadline is coming up.”
This is the kind of spontaneous action that generates an immediate sense of guilt. Why did I do this? Why did I increase the number of competitors in a competition in which I am also fighting for a chance? Sincerely? I do not know.
My guess is that deep inside my heart I do not believe that my victory can only happen through the loss of other people. Okay, more competitors, but are they really my competitors? Do they work with the same subjects that I do? In the very same way? Certainly not. Call me old fashioned, but I believe in my work and see no reason to be afraid to share the news of a grant or artist residency.
The way I see it, meanness is one of the l old-normal-old-fashioned concepts we should leave behind. Only then we would live a new normal.
Today I saw a headline about a foolproof method to sleep in sixty seconds. As is often the case with headlines, there was a lot of exaggeration. In fact, it was just a method of breathing that consists of inhaling for 4 seconds, holding the air for seven seconds and exhaling for eight seconds. The 4-7-8 technique, for short.
And you know what? It really works! At least it worked for me in the last couple of nights, when I went to bed feeling too anxious to fall asleep. Sounds familiar?
The reason for my sleepless nights was an unpleasant decision I had to make. After more than ten years as an evaluator for a scientific journal (for more info about my secret identity as a sequential art researcher, read more here), for the first time I issued a negative opinion, recommending not only the rejection of the article, but also that the author revise, well, everything: spelling, methodology, references.
It was not an easy decision to make. Ok, I know that having an article rejected in a scientific journal is far from being the worst thing that can happen to someone, but I also know there is always a lot of time and working involved in it. That is the reason why my comments to the author were very respectful and I also included a series of suggestions, among which that a new version should be submitted to the journal.
In other words: in the worst scenario, the whole episode will help this researcher to learn the ropes and produce a much better article next time. Even so, I felt really bad. Why? After all, saying “no” is part of the duties of an evaluator. True, but yet it was the first time for me. “Publish after the suggestd changes” was the worst appreciation I had to give so far.
It made me wonder: with so many tools, tutorials and all kinds of apps available, why are people writing in such a sloppy way? Probably for the same reason that even with all kinds of cameras and everybody taking pictures all the time, we keep taking the same endlessly repeated “in-front-of-the-mirror-selfie”, over and over again .
Back to the rejected article, I was also surprised by the fact that it was actually submitted to a scientific journal. How many readers did the text have before me? Nobody (a friend, a research colleague, an advisor) suggested changes or, at least, a grammar revision?
Which link in the protocol chain of producing scientific knowledge was broken? And when did that happen? Actually, such questions could be addressed to various aspects of the current aesthetic production, too. Are we getting used to doing everything sloppily?
Sorry for bringing up so many questions. I hope it does not bother your sleeping, but just in case…. breathe.
Autumn Leaves is one of the most popular jazz songs, with several versions in different languages. It was composed by Joseph Kosma in 1945 with original French lyrics by Jacques Prévert (later it would gain English lyrics by Johnny Mercer) and the instrumental version by pianist Roger Williams reached the top of the 1955 US Billboard charts.
Another song that deals with this time of the year is Autumn in Rio, by Ed Motta, released in 2000. While the French song highlights the sad character of the season, from a European point of view, the Brazilian artist exalts the arrival of mid-season. According to Motta: There is a place to be happy / Besides April in Paris/ Autumn in Rio.
In 2013, on my first CD, I also vocalized my special affection for the season that brings relief to the inclement heat of the tropical summer. After Summer is the name of my homage to the golden lights and mild temperatures of autumm. In my ode to the season, it represents a ritual of saying goodbye to summer and its promisses to enter a period of achievements (in Brazil, we say that the year only begins “after carnival”, which in practice means “after summer”).
Ten years later, I look back at this summer of 2013 and feel a little nostalgic. There are many dreams involved in releasing a first album and, most of the time, only a small part of them come true (we cannot all win all the awards, can we?). Perhaps the great lesson of these last ten years has been exactly this: that it is necessary to keep going, even if one or two projects fall by the wayside.
Or maybe the greatest lesson of the last ten years was learning how to turn those left-behind-dreams into fertilizer for the dreams that will still grow. Just as the leaves that fall in autumn will serve to enrich the earth, in a perpetual cycle of creation. How many past ideas merged into the projects I now take to the stage? How much of yesterday remains in today and will certainly accompany us tomorrow?
A little too philosophical for your taste? True. It must be the season.