Smooth Recovery: Appreciating Jazz

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, which reminds me of an expression used amongst musicians when a note or two is misplayed.

“It’s okay, it’s just jazz.”

Although it’s meant as a joke, the truth behind it is quite liberating. Jazz has always been difficult to define because the very nature of the genre is rooted in freeform – exploring the possibilities of playing without a regular meter, beat and formal structure. Jazz has evolved with various influences over the decades, however it will always have a “let loose” quality.

Could this be why jazz is good for you?

For those who may be interested, there is a study shared by the American Society of Anesthesiologists showing that post surgery, patients who listened to jazz music during their recovery experienced significantly lower heart rates. Experts hope such results may mean less dependence on pain medication following surgery.

No one is saying you should swap your anesthesia treatment with a Miles Davis album. But what is suggested is that jazz has therapeutic qualities.

We reached out to some of Hawaii’s own local musicians to find out if they experience any of the said qualities when playing and listening to jazz.

Jazz makes you think.  Thinking stimulates the brain.  Stimuli, especially when it's creative and artistic in nature, let's you free your mind.  This is a good thing, especially in this world of instant gratification and hectic lifestyles.

- Eric White / Saxophonist / Makakilo

While the majority of popular music is highly doctored, jazz is more often recorded in its most natural state. I think the brain detects all the edits and digital finessing which can be subconsciously unsettling. Real live imperfect humans, playing complete takes on traditional instruments with plenty of room to bleed in the recordings, feels right and it's easier on the ears. It's honest, which makes us feel at home.

-  John LeBlanc / Guitarist / Honolulu

One of the new homes of jazz in Honolulu is the Blue Note Hawaii, where general manager Marco Olivari has noticed an interesting effect on their audiences.

One interesting observation that I've made over the years which certainly insinuates that there is an immediate benefit of people listening to music is that occasionally guests leave behind their canes. I always found it interesting that they needed these devices to enter the club, but after listening to an hour of music are so transported that they exit on their own power and forget these devices behind,” Olivari said.

Whether in recovery or just unwinding after a hard day’s work (which can be a form of recovery as well), jazz sounds like a great idea. Speak to your physician before requesting any changes to your recovery treatment plan.