“Jazz Is the Musical Narrative of My Life”, speech by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar giving the keynote address at the Jazz Congress in January 2018. (photo courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center)


Basketball legend and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke of his love of jazz in his keynote address at the first annual Jazz Congress, held in New York City in January:

“Jazz has been the musical narrative of my life. My love of jazz stems not just from the music itself, but from its history. The music connects me to my own thoughts and feelings, but also connects me to my cultural history.

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“We need to educate the next generation that the joys of jazz are greater than those of K-pop and other music trends. Most courses teach students how to make a living; art and music teaches them how to enjoy life.

“Jazz is the perfection of imperfection. It acknowledges the cracks in the sidewalk of humanity, the flaws in the diamonds of our souls, the tectonic faults in our personal relationships—and forges all those discordant notes into something greater and stronger than the sum of those parts. In the end, jazz not only makes us feel better—it can also make us be better.”

Speech Begins at 42:20

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