Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Last night in a dream I was grooving to Duke, Miles, Charlie and Ella but it started earlier in the evening. The low roofed building on Ariapita Avenue that once housed a chinese restaurant that the boys and I used to frequent has morphed into a jazz club. Unlike the smoky cellars of Berlin or the raucous clubs of Rue de Bourbon in the French Quarter, this place is more of a brief happening in the place to be landscape of Trinidad. But then there's the jazz.

Jazz gets into your blood, under your skin in a way that pop music does not. It speaks to the tortured souls, brilliant minds, a complex mathematical equation in an otherwise banal musical landscape. Jazz is extreme, no wishy-washy in-betweens, you love or you hate. Whether it is Miles melancholy horn, Bird's sax or Ella scatting these are not the rhythms of the faint hearted or the dilettante. Jazz can be discordant, a snapshot of the composer's dilemma or it can stroke your skin, smooth as velvet, tickling, soothing. It is passionate music, for people with emotions running close in their very veins.

Is it any wonder that most jazz greats self destruct, a tangle of drugs, sex, depravity all to play the music in their minds. Charlie Parker with swiftly playing twelve notes on the chromatic scale breaking the confines of earlier jazz solos. Always pushing the envelope. To those of us who know depression as our old nemesis, jazz is the ultimate way to describe what happens in our heads.

It is the high, lows, bi-polar swing, manic extremes of emotion, hormones, of wanting, feeling, to much, too hard, to long. It is also the calm troughs, the moments when it all comes together, peace, space, breath. It is Sunday morning stillness, coffee lingering in the air, Miles in the Blue note years. It is Bessie belting out her heart left by another man, again. It is the slap ringing in your air caused by the slamming of the front door as someone storms out. It is the beating of two hearts, make-up sex. It is a good conversation over a lovely meal and a glass of wine that feels full on the tongue, so you talk and talk, but say more in what you don't say. It is Slacker mourning his lost relationship, Blue warding off the demons yet again and Wallah, learning to hope. It is Jazz.

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