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13

Jazz Meets Death

Matt Lavelle By

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There once was a great music. It was born in America and branded with the name Jazz. The music was later re-named madam Zzaj, by one of her lovers, the Duke. She grudgingly accepted the moniker of Jazz over the years. It was how she was bought and sold after all. Jazz had several intimate relationships over the years. Each one of these caused her to experience tremendous spiritual and emotional transformation. There was the great Armstrong, who raised her from the brothels. There was the Bird, who taught her how to fly. There was the Prince of Darkness, who seduced her. There was the great Train whose tracks led Jazz to Interstellar Space. After growing and growing and growing some more, Jazz found herself in a real rut. People far younger than her, who knew none of her lovers, were telling her and everybody else who she was. At the same time, people all over the world kept pushing and prodding at her extremes just to prove what she was not. All the conflict caused Jazz to enter a period of deep stagnation. She felt like a polluted and cloudy pond. When she looked in the mirror, she no longer recognized her face. It became so bad that one day Jazz passed out into a deep coma. So deep was her sleep that even Buddy Bolden himself could not wake her, blowing the loudest cornet of all time from New Orleans.

Finally, Jazz was able to open her eyes, but she was no longer down on Earth in New York City where she last remembered being. Jazz found herself in a room with a man wearing a heavy dark cloak who was holding a staff that resembled a cane from the Cotton Club perhaps. Sitting down with the cloaked man were all of Jazz's past lovers. Armstrong, the Bird, the Prince, and the Train. Everyone looked sad. The cloaked man introduced himself as the one and only angel of death.

"Jazz my dear. You have lost your way. You don't remember who and what you are. It's time for you to find out. We are here to help you remember what made you what you are. We need you to return to Earth and answer three imperative questions. If you can answer these questions correctly you'll be allowed to live and be reborn. If you answer wrong, then, unfortunately, your time on Earth will have come to an end."

Next it was Armstrong who spoke with the first question. Always known for his big smile, it was shocking to see him so filled with misery. He was greatly concerned for Jazz. In his gravelly voice, he asked:

"Lady Jazz, what are the Blues?"

Next the Prince of Darkness spoke. Sinister and menacing was his vibe. Lady Jazz felt a powerful intimacy with the prince. It was as if he could see right through her. He spoke in a raspy tone:

"Who's owns music? Who's owns you Jazz?"

Next it was the Train who spoke. The Train had traveled great distances and seen many things. The Train was very tenacious and never missed a stop and was never late. He was known to be able to travel at great speeds and carry an enormous amount of cargo and passengers. He spoke softly and sounded like a preacher from the southern United States.

"Hello Jazz. My question for you is this: What is the tonic in the key of F?"

Death explained to Jazz that it was time for her to return to Earth. She would return in one day with her answers for better or worse. Before she could leave, the Bird came over and gave her huge hug. He whispered to Jazz in her ear, almost as if to not let the others hear him.

"To find the answers to these three questions my love, you must seek out counsel from two people back on Earth. Seek counsel with the proclaimed King of Jazz, residing at Lincoln Towers. After your time with the king, seek out a the Coalman. He lives in a place called Chelsea. I'll give you a map. Based on their responses, come back to us and reveal the truth about yourself once and for all. Don't be afraid. We know you're going to do the right thing."

With that Jazz found herself at the gates of Lincoln towers. The doorman said that the king was indeed home. When Jazz was announced as a guest, she was escorted right to the penthouse. She was treated with supreme respect. The King welcomed her with open arms. He was alone.

"Ah, lady Jazz. I'm so glad you have come. I'm well aware of your reason for coming here to see me. You've come to the right place. It is I who have saved you and preserved you. It is I who am your translator to the world. I have made the decision of who you are myself. You must trust me. I will now answer your questions three."

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