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No Virginia, Jazz Is Not Dead

Updated: May 10

Dear Mr. Mooche,

I am 12 years old.  Some of my little friends say that Jazz is dead. Please tell me the truth, is jazz dead?

Sincerely, Virginia


Dear Virginia


Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they can hear on popular media. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.


Jazz exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion to personal expression exist, and you know that they abound and give to our life its highest beauty and joy.


No Virginia, jazz is not dead.  It exists in the hopes and dreams of true equity and freedom for all.  It exists in the night clubs and concerts and parks.  If you really look it can also be found on the radio and the TV and the web.  Keep an eye out for those vinyl records or CDs in the dusty bin towards the back of the store which holds all the wonderful sonic treasures.


How dreary would be the world if there were no jazz! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no swinging, lilting melodies that inspire childlike daydreaming and discovery, no poetry, no dancing, no romance to make tolerable this existence.


We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal sounds with which jazz fills the world would be extinguished.

Nobody finds jazz music unless you really seek it out, but that is no sign that there is no jazz or that it is dead. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see without some extra effort.


Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen or unheard in the world.


Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else as real and abiding.


No jazz? Thank God it lives forever. A thousand years from now, maybe 10 times 10,000 years from now, it will continue to make glad the hearts of at least a few dozen children.  So no, Virginia, jazz is not dead.


With apologies to Francis P. Church.   - the Sun 1897

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