where the writers are
Nerd Jazz/Nerd Writing
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The other night I was listening to the host of a jazz program on the Boston NPR station talk with Branford Marsalis. During their discussion Branford described another musician as not being a among the "nerd Jazz" set. Asked about the term "nerd jazz," he said that there are many jazz musicians that have begun their careers in the past 20 or 30 years that have been educated in jazz (he noted that jazz has become in many instances a music for intellectuals and that it has been absorbed into academia as opposed to being learned through the experience of playing and life lessons) but lack a certain emotional quality to their playing.

By this he meant that they have learned to a high degree the techniques of playing jazz music and are exceptional musicians in terms of their precision in playing and the other learned skills that come with playing this very complex musical form and they can talk about technique in a very educated manner. However, they lack an emotionally compelling component to their music making them really half a musician--they have the nerd half of being a jazz musician.

Therefore, as Brandford described this one musician he said he was a complete musician in that he not only had the technique down, but he brought an emotionally compelling aspect to his music; something that made the listener feel more than the notes and style by reaching into the deep panoply emotions and emotional experience behind our individual interaction with music. Branford went on to say that this quality is something that can't necessarily be tought. It can be nurtured and encouraged, but it comes from living a life with a broad array of experience and the ability for that to come through in the music in terms of how it is played.

What he said spoke directly to me and relates to thoughts that I have had about writing. I would say that there is an analogous writer-type that could be called "nerd writing" where the individual has been well educated in technique, writes with a fluent understanding of technique, and can expound on the finer points of technique in a very educated fashion, but still lacks an emotional component to their writing and story telling that would make it consistently interesting and evocative. Their is no single form that I believe has suffered from "nerd writing" than short stories. There are so many wonderful writers creating them, yet there is a lack of compelling short stories. Perhaps to the editors selecting these stories there is something compelling in the quality of the writer's technique, but there needs to be more than that for stories to be interesting and compelling reads.

By contrast, and this is not a short story, I would suggest people go and read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. He is an eminently talented writer in terms of not just his technique, but in his ability to render an emotionally compelling story.