Todd Hildreth.

By Todd Hildreth

Everyone has a message. Most people don't always know what message they're sending, and some try to send one type of message and end up sending another. Jazz concerts are filled with messages, and being around for some time I've seen a variety of them.

While you're sitting there trying to listen to music, it's hard not to be distracted by all the messages going on, but I've put these distractions to constructive use. Each message can be used to determine a specific personality type and the various personality types that attend our local concerts. I've put them together in a handy guide for you. Here are some of my favorites:

I'm Hip and I Understand Jazz. This type of listener truly understands every nook and cranny of the performance taking place, or so they want you to think. They pick tables where a lot of people can see them and try to look like they really know what's going on. Though they try to project an image that makes them look like they are analyzing everything with intensity and understanding, something quite different is going on in their minds. What's really going on is "Whoa, that chick at the bar is checking me out. Is my hand stroking my chin? Are my eyes squinted as if in deep concentration? Hold it . . . Hold it . . .." And indeed they are in deep concentration, so much so that many times they don't know the band has stopped until they hear the applause, which they initially think is for them. On the breaks they will seek people they know they can confuse and say things like "Yeah man, (jazz musician) has a virulent penchant for diminished platitudes and a concomitant aeolian melee subsequently found in his previous endeavors." They will of course avoid people who know they're idiots, but there are plenty neophyte concert-goers who will fall prey to these types. But enough about them. Here's the next group.

I pay money to see my friends. These guys are kind of the opposite. Rather than hide their ignorance, they actually advertise it through their boisterous conversations in the back of the room. It doesn't matter what they had to pay at the door to get in. Good conversation is what they seek, and what's the point of going to someone's house to talk when there are plenty of jazz concerts around? You can't dance to jazz, so you might as well figure out something to do with it. And that joke about the farmer's daughter? Save it for the softest ballad of the night. You don't want to miss any details because of the music. The next day at work they turn their noses up at their co-workers who stayed at home watching TV. "I supported the arts last night. What did you do?"

I love jazz when it's played by people who don't live here. This is perhaps the biggest group of jazz concert-goers. These are the folks who come flocking in for all the bigger concerts, not recognizing (or being recognized by) the local players there. Their reasons are understandable. Why pay two or three dollars every other week to see local jazz when you can get it all over with at once by spending $20-30 once every three or four months. This way they can support jazz without missing out on too much TV.

Ah, yes, the variety and intrigue of the Louisville jazz listener.