A student and I were discussing his studies of Greek plays in AP Literature class – he’d read Oedipus Rex and Medea. He remarked that because the myths being told were universally known, the artistry of Sophocles is in how he tells the story – what he highlights, what choices he makes, what details he adds and subtracts.
The same is true in jazz. We are working with a repertoire of ubiquitous songs – the so-called Standards from Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers, and the rest, plus all the songs composed by jazz musicians and adopted into the canon.
It isn’t the words and tune of Misty that jazz musicians want to hear – it is the musical choices each musical Sophocles makes when she sings or plays the tune.