Mr. Todd, making a theoretical point. Photograph by Michael Steinman

Mr. Edward Todd, of San Geronimo, California, is a devoted reader of JAZZ LIVES.  He is also deeply thoughtful.  I received the following missive from Mr. Todd just the other day.

Dear Michael,

If I may.

I have noted with great interest the long-standing connection between the jazz musicians you celebrate and the members of the apparently domesticated Feline tribe.

This, at its simplest level, takes its utterance in the desire to call said musicians CATS.  This nomenclature is not to be taken casually; it is as great a mark of respect as can be bestowed on humanity. 

Permit me to speculate on some of the similarities.

Jazz musicians are notably independent.  They may appear modest and even self-doubting, but deep down they are exceedingly proud creatures who know their worth.  They will join together in groups for their common happiness and interest, but they are truly reluctant to be led unless they truly respect and love their leader.  Even then, it may take some time to assemble them into an apparently obedient group.  They have a fine disdain for the ordinary.

They are individualistic.  They do not resemble one another, nor do they sound alike. 

Treat them badly and they do not forget.  The offender may get swatted, scratched, nipped, or satirized.  Treat them kindly and they may permit you a small space on the pillow.  They are particular about whom they love but their loyalty is powerful.

They are capable of an unimaginable variety of sounds; with voices and instruments, they purr, hiss, meow, and caterwaul.  They like warmth — thus, the expression GET HOT.  Just as we Felines can find comfort in the smallest of spaces, the best jazz musicians can find memorable ways to express themselves in a rimshot, a four-bar break, a tonal shading.  They have many lives — not merely in calendar years, but in variety.  They land on their feet.  A few of them are known to scatter litter all around, but most pride themselves on being clean.  Like Kittens, they love to play, and many enjoy fast tempos, racing around when the mood strikes.   

We Felines prize these jazz musicians and admire their efforts to emulate us.  At their most highly evolved, they approach some small portion of our majesty.  Hence, CATS. 

Thank you, wise Mr. Todd!

May your happiness increase.

2 responses to “SWING, YOU CATS?

  1. I have been living with cats of both persuasions all my life. Now I understand the affinity. Thank you!

  2. Very well put, Mr. Todd!

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