My Jazz Family

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.


There are many places in Des Moines that I call home - Java Joe’s Coffeehouse, The Continental, Turner Jazz Center - and the one thing they have in common? The people. These are jazz musician joints. Walking into a room and spotting fellow musicians means seeing my extended family. I joined this clan a few years ago and have been growing closer with everyone in it since then.

Jazz has a knack for bringing people of all walks of life together. One gig I played a few weeks ago included an 80-year old saxophone legend who never finished high school, a soft-spoken guitarist who avoids confrontation, a boisterous vocalist with a drug-addled past, a high school teacher/pianist with Tourette’s, and a quiet 17-year old bassist--me--trying to take it all in. The jazz community is one of the those families with the crazy uncle, funky cousins you wish you could see more often, and older siblings you would never admit to admiring.

A beautiful thing about this jazz family is the tradition of mentorship. I would be lost without the help of wiser musicians--schooling me on how to listen better and allowing me to learn alongside with them--and even though I’m always learning more, I’ve tried to take a few musicians from tepid middle school...

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