The Maybe Logic Benefit Concert for the Jazz Arts Group is tonight, Friday, Feb. 3 at 9pm. [Facebook + RSVP] Proceeds benefit the the Jazz Arts Group Youth Programs and Jazz Academy. Jessica Baldwin was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…
Can you give us a bit of background on the Jazz Artist’s Group?
The Jazz Arts Group is based in Columbus, and they are America’s oldest not-for-profit arts organization. They are “dedicated to advancing the art of jazz through performance and education,” according to their mission statement. They are one of the most active organizations in the Jazz Education Network, a national jazz education program, and they run the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the Jazz Academy, and many programs to give jazz artists performing opportunities.
How have you and/or Maybe Logic members been involved in the past?
We haven’t. We decided we wanted to do a benefit concert at the Adelphia, and after research into the organizations we as a group might want to further and help, we realized jazz education was a perfect fit. JAG is an organization that is active, stable, effective, and close by, so we felt it would be the best match for this event.
What is your favorite thing about performing in Maybe Logic?
My favorite thing are the moments when we connect with people through our original material. We each write with inspiration from greats like Zappa, Weather Report, Scofield, Cobham, etc., but our music is attempt to take the next step in musical development, not merely to imitate for the sake of familiarity. When we reach people who are excited to explore unfamiliar music territory, get engaged in our performance, and appreciate the music for its own sake, those encounters are incredibly rewarding for me. I also love the high of spontaneous composition when you start the lose the boundary between the moment you think of a musical idea and the moment you play or sing it, and the two start to become one…a flow. When we share some of those moments in the band at the same time, this sense of being a part of a multi-person being happens, and it’s wonderful and surreal.
What are your thoughts on music education in the US?
Music education shouldn’t be just for the purpose of being a professional musician. It should be to help us continue to learn and appreciate a language that we’ve been speaking for millennia, and that should continue to grow and change as our spoken language has. Being a music educator, you can imagine that I’m passionate about it, but I believe that deep down, all of humanity is passionate about it. It’s been an essential part of being a human since the beginning of recorded history.
We use it to tell stories, to celebrate rituals, to mark something important in our lives, to pass time, to share an experience with others. For these reasons, I believe music education starts and ends at home. Sadly, many of the children who come into my studio have never even sung “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” You don’t have to be a professional musician to make and appreciate good music with your kids, but too many parents have been increasingly reliant on the school system to provide the entire music education for their children. Now that the funding is dropping, so is our collective appreciation for the different kinds of music available to us. We’re losing the ability to listen…to digest…to appreciate. We’ve replaced active learning and participation in music with passive background music, and with few exceptions, we’re being fed junk food on the radio and on restaurant and store soundtracks, and we keep demanding it. It’s comparable to the obesity epidemic in my mind. If left to our own devices as kids, most of us will eat junk all day, and we don’t like to eat our vegetables. Over time, with guidance from the adults in our lives, we (hopefully) learn to have a broader spectrum of eating that includes healthier foods, and eventually, we not only appreciate, but come to prefer better, more complex food. It’s the same with music.
We need music education to help us grow out of our junk food stage musically, and when parents start this process at home, if and when they employ a teacher to take the children further than they could at home, the kids are much more open to learning new things and to taking them further with their own musical compositions. These are the kids who help our music grow, a little bit at a time in some cases, or a lot at a time in others. Some become the Frank Zappas and Joni Mitchells and Billy Cobhams and Miles Davis’s and Steve Reichs of the world, and without them, there is no musical growth. And without an audience that’s willing to hear them and recognize that what they’re doing is worth listening to and paying to hear, they can’t make their mark. We have to take responsibility for our own music educations, one home at a time.