Ken Burn's Jazz has me crying my eyes out – a letter to Wynton Marsalis @wyntonmarsalis

Dear Wynton,

I don’t know how to get in touch with you directly, to say everything I need to say, so here I am writing a blog whose address I’ll tweet to you.

I have just watched the video documentary review of Jazz by Ken Burns.

This morning, I finished watching your wonderful interview with Dave Crosby a person echoing my own need of being a life long learner not only of music but of life too.

I watched your deeply engaging tribute to Albert Murray too. There’s a man who looked deep along the filaments of our consciousness.

Contentedly, I began to browse the list of videos once more.  Accidently my finger clicked Ken Burns.  Feeling a little frustrated I clicked back, afterall Ken Burns must be just some guy to do with photos having given his name to the ubiquitous Ken Burns effect right?  No.  I’m looking for music.  I clicked back thinking I would return as my interest had been peaked as to what Ken’s connection to you must be.

So I’m back on the video list and I push it up the screen. Before I know it things are happening beyond my control and I’m on the Ken Burns page again.

Ok. Something’s going on here. I must need to watch this. So I sat back and watched you pay tribute to Ken Burns.

Ok.  Now I’m starting to sense a movement inside me to a new understanding, a next step, a new opening. I scroll down the page.

I come to the Charlie Rose Show video. I switch on and begin to watch. There’s a very fine younger you there and Ken Burns who I know must also be a younger version. 

I’m from the UK, so the show’s opening credits and music take me back to the feeling I had when I stayed in N’Orleans back in 2001. I stayed for about a week, and came back, as part of a 5 week Amtrak trip up the East Coast with my travelling partner. We touched down and began our walking, Amtraking, back packing journey in Memphis.

As I watch the video, I am deeply moved by the integrity and love that emanates from both yourself and Ken. This resonates with me strongly.

The topic turns to Louis Armstrong and I find my eyes welling up. I guess because you were saying so many lovely things.

As the video moves along, I find the tears are now rolling down my cheeks. I’m bemused but happy. This world is interconnected in so many ways through the all pervasive now my response could be due to any number of things. Emphatically I share Louis’ use of the hankerchief – an item of which I have many and have always been on my person since I was a young person.

He’s singing Dinah and I’m in love. That’s how to sing a song, with real feeling and absolute joy of every moment, every note, every harmony, every word joyously known as gifted to us with which we vibrate the very universe.

You say more wonderful things and I’m really crying now. It’s like I’m the Universe knowing that people are getting it, I’ve spoken through Louis, because Louis knew he was the Universe too, and people have heard.

Now tears of joy are really flowing, falling down onto my chest, a joy of a shared understanding across three ages. Proof of optimism in our dualistic form that we are one within a one, capable, through selfless uninhibited self expression of moving the world in better ways. Being the change we desire to see.

I have to laugh, gently shaking my head in disbelief, tears pouring down my face when Ken recalls a quote saying Louis’ music has the power to make angels weep.

What is going on? Whatever it is it is truly wonderful and sublime. Sixteen years separates that moment from now yet in consciousness we’re all in the ever fluxing now.

That’s it really. Whilst I was watching I had no idea what was going on. Why am I crying? What’s going on?

I’ve just started playing the trumpet. I’m self taught in music and continue to explore its depths. I’m certainly playing for fun first and foremost. I’m inventing my own style, exploring lip positions, movements, how relaxed can I be whilst playing, moving whilst I play.

The whole trumpet thing is completely new to me as of the 23rd of Jan this year. After 5 hours I played happy birthday very badly and very happily for my step son’s birthday. Fun. It’s got to be fun. I got to just get out there and play. 

If I know myself, if I don’t do it that way I never will because I’ll never be good enough because I can always be better. So if I can always be better, relax, blow, play, have fun, now, for yourself and for others who might be inspired by it. I guess that’s where an unlikely philosophical connection exists, though diametrically opposed in unison, between punk and jazz. Protest through self determination and protest developed through excellence.

I knew I needed to watch great trumpet players to develop, get a fingering sheet and get to know the notes. I came across Vizzutti, Alison Balsom a superbly accurate and beautifully toned classical player, Chet Baker, and yourself.

I got a book called the History of Jazz out of the library. It’s huge. So I said to myself, I can’t start at the beginning, I’m here and now, I’ll start with Wynton and follow the strands.

Man, it’s turning out to be a wonderful journey.

I pick up records in charity shops – Harry James, Satchmo live.

I find myself naturally playing Bear Necessities, the Morecambe and Wise theme tune, 1234 procrastinate (not the actual words) but I heard the refrain on the latest Louis record I bought. Excellent. I love those synchronicities.

One last thing, thank you. Thank you for being there, for choosing to guide others in and around, for sharing your thoughts, philosophy and the wisdom of others.

You are a great teacher and someone I am pleased in my consciousness to consider a great friend and benefactor of life.

Thank you for your unconscious continued support.
Yours Sincerely,

Steven Eden

*Sadly, the news story was badly researched and the coin isn’t worth anything. Sorry! …   Ps. I was exercising whilst watching the Dave Crosby video and saw that one of my coins on the floor had a strange graphic on it – 1807 amidst chains with the words ‘Am I not a man and a brother’ around the edge. Interesting. I googled it and it turns out the words are upside down and it is worth maybe a couple of hundred quid. I have determined to donate the money to your music Center once I get it on Ebay. *** Sadly it is only worth its face value. 


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