Louis Armstrong had a line, "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."
Far be it from me to disagree with Pops, but everybody from dilettantes to Charlie Parker had to start somewhere.
I started at the library. As a kid, I used to borrow stacks of CDs and cassette tapes -- Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughn, Arturo Sandoval, Parker, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus and, of course, Armstrong. (Yeah, cassettes -- that gives you a sense of how old I am.)
I was introduced to most of my favorite jazz artists at the library.
But I never got to hear them play live at the library.
Jazz lovers (and those with just a passing interest in the genre) can enjoy the music firsthand this Monday at our Main Branch.
The Four Clarinets will perform jazz tunes from the 1920s through 1950s from 6:30 to 7:45 in the Garfield Room as part of our Monday University series.
They'll play their own arrangements of standards like "I'll Take Romance," "Jitterbug Waltz," "One Note Samba" and more. They'll also give historical anecdotes on the music and explain the basics of jazz improvisation.
The program is free and open to the public -- kids and adults. However, we do ask that you register for it beforehand. You can do so on our website or by calling the Mentor Public Library at (440) 255-8811.
By the way, jazz lovers, have you tried Freegal yet? It's a program that allows you to legally download mp3s of your favorite artists for free. And you can keep the mp3s forever. Play them on your iPod, burn them to CD, record them to cassette (if they still make those) -- whatever you want to do. They're yours.
Freegal's library includes John Coltrane, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jerome Kern, Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Wynton Marsalis and a lot more.
And it's free with a Mentor Public Library card. Check it out.