"Give yourself a gift," Marcus Aurelius advised, "the present moment." Aldous Huxley populated his island paradise Pala with parrots that fly around squawking, "Here and now, boys, here and now!" All the wise men agree—the key to a healthy life is alertness: a refusal to smother the brief candle with ruminations or apprehensions, an avowal to wake up and keep waking up. In art, the existential dilemma translates into devotion to the elusive light of inspiration, a challenge enacted nowhere with greater clarity and urgency than in jazz—where the composer composes in the arena, without benefit of eraser, white-out, tape dubs, or retakes—and by nobody with a more exhilarating sense of adventure than jazz's finest living... More >>>