The Appeal of Jazz and Impressionism

paris blues

“The appeal of jazz in France…is the exact equivalent of the American appreciation of Impressionism…Jazz, like Impressionism, gives dignity to comfort.  Resting in an apparently artless myth of bourgeois pleasure–Gershwin & Kern melodies play the same role for the great jazz men that the outdoor cafes in Argenteuil played for Renoir and Monet….Jazz, like high impressionism, reaffirms the simple, physical basis of powerful emotion and removes it to a plane of personal expression that we recognize as art; it gives us a license to take pleasure in what really provides our pleasures…in every period, every century, there is one art form or another that is able to combine simple affirmation of physical pleasure with a quality of plaintive longing and this becomes the international art form of the time…every epoch has an art form into which all the energies and faiths and beliefs and creative unself-consciousness flows.  What makes them matter is their ability not to be big but to be small meaningfully, to be little largely, to be grandly, or intensely, diminutive.”

–Adam Gopnik, Paris To The Moon

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