Nobody Can Smoke Dope Like a Jazz Musician

Allow me a self centered moment here…I never imagined I’d be writing about jazz, even just a blurb or pick here and there, so this was all quite an experience for me. Turning your solos, your rhythm section subtleties, your ideas and charts and interpretations, your hard work and passion and history into effective prose, and doing so in maybe a sentence or three…man, that has been a education. Especially for someone who, to be honest, doesn’t really know a damn thing about music. But somewhere deep down in the brain, far back in our evolution, language and music merge, and witnessing your playing and interplay in person has taught me a lot about language, stuff I would never had considered had I not been compelled to describe it week after week. In fact, a solo Kenny Burrell played at the Union Hall really opened up the possibilities of fluid accents in prose (outside the sentence structure…it’s complicated and dull, don’t ask), something I was beginning to hear in Lester Young but Kenny clinched it. There were all kinds of other moments, too…some Josh Nelson comps, dropped in just right; some Ralph Penland backing, like a frame in which accents bop about, echoing…and made me rethink Monk a little; the great Billy Paul dropping in hints of marching bands flitting by in acccents; Francisco Aguabella’s textured claves, rounding those diamond hard Cuban rhythms into supple jazz then letting Benn Clatworthy roar through like a sheets of sound powersaw, tearing a shredding each groove into fragments that Francisco kneaded back into shape; Gerald Wilson’s ka, flitting, darting, dancing across the Central Avenue Stage in the summer trilight; and all those hundreds of solos and thousands of phrases by Carl Saunders and Benn Clatworthy and Herman Riley and Chris Colangelo and Theo Saunders and Nedra (and Kristin K and Jennifer L) and Otmaro and Charles Owens (at the World Stage, blowing like a madman for the hangers on)  and Richard Grant (by himself, alone, in a darkened World Stage) and Milcho Leviev (alone, by himself, in a church, playing Gershwin the way Milcho’s crazy god meant it to be heard) and Tim Pleasant connecting the dots in taps and tipples and just the hint of a tinged cymbal, Oscar Brashear blowing free lines; Dwight Trible singing like a horn, like a horn section, like a people praying; Elliott Caine & band just wailing at a blues joint, our englishman John Altman blowing Lucky Thompson throught that ridiculous little horn….I could keep listing names here but…well, that’s enough. You know who you are. And you get the idea. Jazz opens up language, live jazz especially. Watching you all invent music on the spot, watching your ideas spun into phrases intop extended logical tunes, then dissolve again as yiou drop out for the next guy, that’s the creative process at work, at it’s most ephemeral. The brain turning dexterity and sound and structure into music. Man…. What can I say? Can that be done in writing? Does it apply? Ask me years from now, I guess. It has certainly changed how I write. A little piece I did on Herman Riley once was inspired by the way he played a ballad. Taking that essence, that kernel, and writing about Herman in words that reflected how he played that ballad. Hard work, really hard work. But I would never have seen the possibilities there had I not had a weekly deadline describing jazz musicians and their music all over town.

Another lesson I learned was that nobody can smoke dope like a jazz musician. Nobody. It’s hopeless to even try.

Photo by Ron Sombil via Flickr 

Related Posts
Jane’s Addiction Rocks the OC.  Day 1 of Doheny Days. September 8, 2012
  Our neighbors to the South host another monster weekend festival on the sands of Dana Point's Doheny Beach. Music, sand, surf, and bikinis. Doesn't get much better than this. You ...
READ MORE
Yakuza-Palooza at the Egyptian Theatre
The American Cinematheque presents Yakuza-Palooza at The Egyptian Theatre on June 27 and 28, two nights of Japanese crime films, including Pale Flower, Massacre Gun and Killers on Parade. The event is ...
READ MORE
Oko Cafe: Sumo Meets Anime
Oko Cafe seems to mostly emphasize the drink options, which cover teas, milk teas, smoothies, slushies, bubble teas, mojito teas, ice milks, over their food, which tends to be snacky ...
READ MORE
B.B. King and Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Hollywood Bowl
All photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat With a last minute call I got the opportunity to witness something I thought would not ever happen for me. I ...
READ MORE
Paranoia Haunted Attraction in Santa Monica
The temporary drop in temperature this week reminds us that fall is technically here, and with it comes fabulous Halloween! Now there's a brand new haunted attraction to check out ...
READ MORE
Mississippi's compelling A.A. Bondy performed at the Bootleg Theater last month, and memories from the show are still swirling around in my head.  When The Devil's Loose is the kind ...
READ MORE
Harry Perry the Kosmic Krusader on Venice Beach (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)
This April marked the 40th anniversary that Harry Perry, the legendary Kama Kosmic Krusader has been performing his lovingly bizarre feedback-filled songs to tourists and locals alike on the Venice ...
READ MORE
World's most famous drums.
There’s a place in Beverly Hills, that is becoming one of those epicenters of the rock and roll world, a place where the stars gather to meet, sell their treasures, ...
READ MORE
Jane’s Addiction Rocks the OC. Day 1
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains
Yakuza-Palooza at the Egyptian Theatre
Oko Cafe: Sumo Meets Anime
B.B. King and Tedeschi Trucks Band at the
Paranoia Haunted Attraction in Santa Monica
Ink-n-Iron
Live Review: A.A. Bondy at Bootleg Theater 9/29/11
Offbeat L.A.: Harry Perry- The Guitar Playing, Rollerskating,
Own A Slice Of The Rock And Roll

About Brick Wahl

Just another writer. There are zillions of writers. http://brickwahl.com/
This entry was posted in Miscellanious. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Nobody Can Smoke Dope Like a Jazz Musician

  1. Pingback: Selected Pieces | Brick Wahl

Leave a Reply