Daily Archives: June 15, 2010

Basketball and jazz

The Boston jazz blog Brilliant Corners likens the Celtics to a jazz quintet:

The Celtics are b.ball players, but they are also a quintet. Like all musical ensembles, they are hit and miss. Creative in streaks, they are capable of long lapses in focus. Their grit is sometimes suspect, but they
can bring it.

And when they sync, they can blow. Here’s how I see them:

Rajon Rondo=Miles Davis
Paul Pierce=Coleman Hawkins
Kevin Garnett=Booker Little
Kendrick Perkins=Charles Mingus
Ray Allen=Big Sid Catlett

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Jazz aficionado Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes:

Many people unfamiliar with jazz think the music is all about the solo riffs. A single player suddenly jumping to the front of the stage, the spotlight shining brightly on him while he plays whatever jumble of notes that pop into his head. But really, jazz is just the opposite. Each person is playing as part of the team of musicians; they listen to each other and respond accordingly. Indeed there is improvisation, but always within a musical structure of a common goal.

Same with basketball. When you play basketball, everything is timing, just as with a song. You must be able to instantly react to the choices your teammates make. A team of basketball soloists, without the structure of a common goal, may get TV endorsements for pimple cream, but it doesn’t win championships.

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Bob Cousy image via Crosstown Trains.

The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician, things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the backyard on a hot night or something said long ago. ~ Louis Armstrong