I studied abroad in Manchester, UK for the Spring 2022 semester – a city I chose primarily for my love of The 1975, a band from the area.
Abroad, I did literature blogs; learned about acclaimed poets in the UK, like Lemn Sissay and Andrew McMillan; rode atop double-decker buses through the streets of Manchester; and made countless friends with local and international students in Europe.
I took four journalism courses abroad from January to June 2022, but most of my time was spent admiring The 1975 and exploring Manchester’s music scene.
But my stay abroad ended this summer. In June 2022, I found myself at my parents’ house in Patterson, Louisiana, for the next two months, crying and watching TikToks.
I was unhappy.
I needed motivation to make life interesting in a small town in southern Louisiana, so I went to the local library, where I rented a 1991 book by Richard Carlin called “Jazz.”
Reading Carlin’s writings on jazz music reminded me of how much culture and history is present in Louisiana and how lucky I am to be raised in such a beautiful state.
“The history of jazz is both a history of change and a history of continuity, with new musical forms emerging from a solid tradition,” Carlin said. His birthplace is our own New Orleans.
Robert “Rob” Payer, a 55-year-old musician from Baton Rouge, said he thinks jazz “is probably one of the few genres of music where you can totally express yourself.”
“Jazz is a lot like hip hop or rap. You can take any avenue, and it’s fine,” Payer said against the backdrop of a calm, rainy day at Highland Coffees.
Payer is the program director for WBRH and KBRHradio training program stations at Magnet High School in Baton Rouge.
Payer said his earliest memory of music was seeing his two older brothers playing records. Her favorite artists include Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Esperanza Spalding and Samara Joy.
Payer said he thinks we in Louisiana and the United States could do more to appreciate jazz history.
“I think we here in Louisiana, and Baton Rouge being the capital, we take that for granted,” Payer said. “America as a whole, but especially in Louisiana, we take for granted the rich heritage that is jazz.”
“Just 90 minutes away is the birthplace of jazz,” Payer said.
Sophomore mechanical engineering student Riley Craig takes the genre to heart. The 19-year-old Baton Rouge native is pursuing a jazz minor.
“Jazz moves and breathes,” Craig said.
Craig’s favorite jazz artists are Count Basie, Oscar Peterson and Art Blakey, and his favorite standards are Django Reinhardt’s “After You’ve Gone” and Nat King Cole’s “Almost like Being in Love”.
Craig believes jazz is a genre that transcends cultural boundaries.
“You can play with someone who doesn’t even speak the same language as you and has no problem,” says Craig. “Jazz standards haven’t changed; they are always jazz standards.
For locals who want to connect with jazz music, events are open to the public this fall.
The LSU Jazz Showcase is scheduled for October 4, 2022, from 7:30-9:00 p.m. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $11 for student and K-12 admission.
Besides the window displays, there are also festivals nearby, such as the famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which takes place every spring.
Payer said residents can find festivals throughout the state.
“Jazz is always there, you just have to look for it,” Payer said.
Molly Redfield, assistant professor of jazz studies at LSU, wrote her thesis on jazz hip hop. His favorite jazz artists include Ray Brown, Esperanza Spalding and Robert Glasford.
Redfield said listeners can find jazz anywhere.
“You don’t have to just type in ‘jazz’ and listen to it,” Redfield said. “You probably won’t like what’s to come.”
Instead, Redfield recommended different artists who merge jazz into other genres.
For those who love hip hop, she recommends Robert Glasper. For rap fans, Kendrick Lamar. And for funk, Tower of Power.
“Broaden your horizons and you’ll find that not only does it help you connect to popular culture, but also to Louisiana roots and that broader culture of jazz funerals and Mardi Gras and those events that have marching bands “, Redfield said. .
I found out that was true thanks to the former favorite who brought me to Manchester.
In a playlist created on Spotify by The 1975 is Miles David’s song “It Never Entered My Mind”, a beautiful jazz melody strung with soft trumpets and soft piano. It’s not a song I usually listened to over and over again – until I read Carlin’s writings on jazz and talked to Redfield.
Immersing myself in the world of jazz helped me cope with my reverse culture shock after returning to the States – and taught me the beauty of a genre born so close to home.
Kathryn Craddock is a 22-year-old mass communications executive from Patterson.