I had let the water in the tub run dangerously high. Almost up to the lip, where it threatened to soak the Balzac I had balancing on the corner.
I would have to move, slowly, not make even a ripple, but for now I could not be bothered. In a few minutes the news would end and inbetween spitting out static, the jazz program would begin.
I had accompanied her to the cooking supply store. A labyrinth of shelving reaching up to the vaulted ceiling, their middles buckling under the weight of pots and pans. Considering what all the accoutrements would eventually be used for, the store was surprisingly lacking in scent, only faintly of dust, coming from those shelves too high and dangerous to be cleaned regularly.
She found what she wanted and I volunteered to carry the bag, not realizing how heavy it was, nor suspecting that, that had most likely been her plan all along, She wanted to spend a little more time. I would have liked to go for drinks, but was doing that later, before settling down for a night of bleeding my pen of ink. We went for tea. As payback for making me observe moderation, I asked her how her son was. She briefly frowned as if biting into that last piece of fruit and finding it bad.
Before she could answer, the waiter returned with the tea. Awkward silence while we waited for it to cool, yet I know I had not gone too far. I bent down and lifted her bag, putting it on the then empty third chair.
She dropped a sugar cube in, I noticed she held it just above the surface first, letting the dark stain spread right up until it came in contact with her flesh. She tapped the bag with the same fingers.
"I carry my home with me, always in my cooking, in my music... Something about the color of her eyes, or maybe the way the light dimly reflected upon her tears when viewed at a certain angle.
Ah, I will take you back to Berlin, with its skies the color of the inside of a mussel's shell, all fragile gray.
Somewhere music is playing. We make messes of our lives, but somehow it never seems as bad, being our own creation.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.