Love Supreme Jazz Festival is a three day outdoor Jazz festival in East Sussex. It combines camping with jazz which means that you can never fully wash out those suspended flat thirteenths from your crevices. Each circus-like tent contained a world created by some of the best jazz artists new and old. Jacob Collier, who had put out videos on Youtube as a teenager and soon got thousands then millions of fans, was one such artist. Quincy Jones has made him pretty busy since then and his first album ‘In My Room’ came out on the day of the festival.
I had only read about him before seeing him play there. Here’s what people were saying: Jazz’s new messiah! ( John Lewis, Guardian), ‘virtuoso multi-instrumentalist wunderkind’ (Andy Gensler, Billboard.com). Pretty heavy accolades for someone so young. Was it hype?. It soon became astonishingly clear that those journalists had just been reporting what they saw and heard. Hype ye not.
After the set, I bumped into Dave. Dave is a grown adult male accustomed to what life throws at him. Dave was crying. He had just seen Jacob’s set as well. We went to get our signed copies of the album. I read the blurb on the inner sleeve and started crying. It could have been a coincidence that Dave and I were both crying. So I decided to check out Jacob’s other fans on Twitter. They were all crying. Men, women, teenagers, children. What had caused this pandemic and did it have meaning? Here are some thoughts:
Jacob Collier seems to have evolved organically. All his family are musicians, he has thought like a musician all his life and had access to numerous instruments (John Lewis, Guardian). Musical and technological development ran alongside his other childhood development stages and intertwined. Walking, talking, singing, listening, playing, Youtubing. For a lot of us, technology and music were introduced a little later as alien things outside of ourselves that we needed to tackle. These were already imprinted on his brain. His blood must contain over a million music cells per microlitre. Very few people could help if he needed a transfusion. Perhaps Jojo Mayer could be persuaded to donate a few pints just in case.
He was encouraged to make a noise, take risks and explore . There were no traumatic forced practice times. No being told to be quiet. He was left to wander and explore music in a room fit for that very purpose. He was accepted into that world, belonged to that world and invited others into that world (m-magazine.co.uk). Able to express himself fully, he seamlessly grew into maturity without the teenage angst. The album is called ‘In My Room’ but there is no evidence of loneliness. He was not an outsider banished to his bedroom to practice and dream his dreams alone.
So he became great at what he does and as a result creates autotelic experiences. An autotelic experience is an activity that is rewarding for its own sake. It lifts life to another level and keeps you anchored in the present. It gives a sense of control and makes you really blinking happy (Csikszentmihalyi, M, 2002, Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness, London, Rider. Pgs 67-69). So Jacob does not have to be influenced or crippled by the good or bad opinions of others. Free to create for its own sake, he radiates a natural optimism that is infectious (3:26). Growing up in the time of social media, he can communicate his superpowers directly to his fans and open up new opportunities for himself and others (3:50) One of these superpowers is the ability to directly express emotion through music. He feels first, then creates.
So Jacob Collier has perfectly adapted to his environment and the times that he is living in. Add to this an abundance of natural talent, hard work and determination and he has achieved things at a young age that most musicians strive for all their lives. Even when this becomes all too much, you can’t hate him for it. It would be like hating the light that shines through a crystal and then hating the rainbow that comes out of that. Fibonnaci sequences (Nikhat Parveen, UGA) that are found in nature are found in him and his amazing work. It would be like hating nature itself. So you cry.