I listened to Benny Goodman's record of "Can't We Be Friends" yesterday, and enjoyed it as much as, perhaps more than when I bought it four and a half years ago. For it was the first jazz record I ever owned, and hearing it again brought me to reflection on the enjoyment which my interest in jazz music has given me since those early days. And I mulled over particularly those attendant pleasures--satellite satisfactions, they might be called--which are apart from and yet a part of the fascination of the music itself.
Among these, as might be expected, is the thrill of finding a fellow enthusiast in a world which includes so many "tin-ears." It's a gratifying part of any hobby, of course, and as anyone with a hobby will attest, a bond of fellowship is at once created. The two of you can sit up all night listening to records and comparing tastes, arguing as often as you agree. And usually that first feeling of kinship carries over when, after several hours, you begin to talk about something else.
Equally as satisfying is it to evoke a spark of awakened interest by playing a good jazz record for someone with a well-developed Philistine scorn who wonders how the Harvard Crimson can publish ten or twelve inches on "Swing" every week. Only last week I detected signs of just such a conversion after playing some records of instrumental blues for someone who had not suspected that that word "Jazz" could embrace music of such a high quality.
Then there is the excitement every collector knows at finding a long-sought item, in this case a worn wax disc with a little music still audible if you listen for it. There is the assurance, never to be contradicted, that you yourself, endowed with the necessary technique, could improvise a jazz solo worthy of a Louis Armstrong. There is also the glow of superiority at being a member of a somewhat select, if ever-growing, minority to which names like Pee-Wee Russell and records like "Knockin' a Jug" mean something. And finally, there is the appreciation which an acquaintance with jazz, the unique invention of the Negro, brings of this other and larger minority and its problems.
No, I don't think. I'll regret having bought "Can't We Be Friends" if ever the charm of the performance itself begins to fade for me.