Many times you find yourself surrounded by jazz music. The stuff sophisticated people are force-fed right after weaning. You often wonder, where did this music come from? Why can’t we do paka chini to it? Why do people stare when I try to bump and grind when it is playing? What is wrong with doing the moonwalk while it plays? Today, I’ll attempt to give you a deeper understanding of this music.

In eighteen century England, during heavy revolts where people would burn down houses and loot shops, kings used to send out jazz musicians to quell the rioters. Jazz musicians were respected and feared. They were held in the same esteem as soldiers. Jazz instruments were weapons. Rioters would listen to the music, calm down and start buying lollipops for each other.

Stories abound of many a lonely traveler who was attacked by armed robbers and just as they were about to pounce on him and relieve him of all his earthly possessions (for lonely travelers in all credible stories, like this one, travel with all their earthly possessions)…just as the robbers were about to relieve him of all his possessions, instead of saying the proverbial “Do you know who I am?”, he would instead calmly warn them,

“I’ll reach for my saxophone”

And just like that, the robbers would pause and make eye contact with each other. Using robber eye language, they’d ask each other,

“Do you think he really has a saxophone? Should we risk it?”

The physically smaller robber would choose not to risk it. The bigger one would usually insist and move to take the lonely traveler’s goat. The lonely traveler would withdraw his saxophone and it’d gleam in the night light. A small gasp would escape the robbers. They’d piss their pants and start to retreat.

“Don’t harm us sir. Please. Do. not. Harm. Us”

They’d back off and run to their mummies. That is the power of jazz music wielded back then.

Several homesteads didn’t need guard dogs. All a wealthy man had to do back then was to have a gramophone blaring mellow jazz tunes all night long and he’d be guaranteed his property was intact. This is how jazz music came to be called safe music.

Published on February 26, 2012

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