One of the best things about this social distancing phenomenon has been the amount of time freed up for other pursuits.
Most days, I wake up in the morning, and after my basic values and chores (change the feed and water for the birds and walking the dogs) I assess my energy level and plot my day. I always make time for practicing, messing around on the internet, some days I write, some days I read. I have done lots of work in the garden, I have been steadily re burning the CD’s I own onto a hard drive, I have organized my files and catalogued my own music compositions. Some days I record audio or prepare a video. I transcribe and learn music that I have always wanted to get to.
Some days (or parts of days) it seems that I can’t do anything. My head is just not cooperating. This morning is kind of like that. Rather than beating myself up, I decided to listen to music I haven’t listened to in years.
My first selection is an album called “Sphere” by a group by the same name. I haven’t listened to this album since my kids were young. The last time might have been while napping on the yellow ez chair with toddler Ema Jean also napping on my shoulder. She is now 25, so it was the mid to late 90’s.
This is a “straight ahead” jazz group named after Thelonious Sphere Monk (coolest name ever). The players are all top notch Jazz cats. This version of the band has Gary Bartz on alto. He replaced Charlie Rouse (veteran of Monk’s band)in the group. The rhythm section has Kenny Barron on piano and Ben Riley on drums and Buster Williams on bass. All of these highly intelligent and accomplished players combining to create jazz of the first degree.
The tune that got me to start writing just now is a blues written by Bartz called “Uncle Bubba”. The statement seems at first like a Monkish calisthenics exercise, but quickly becomes a very swinging blues. The whole band is swinging, and I honed my listening in to the superb walking bass of Buster Williams. It reminded me of what brought me to jazz music in the first place. For me there are few experiences as pleasurable as listening to (and/or being in) a dedicated,swinging rhythm section that is attuned to each other and swinging their butts off to create a collective thing of beauty that can never be exactly replicated.
I am thankful for the gift of rediscovery today. Thankful I “have ears” for this kind of music, thankful for my musical training and my mentors, and thankful for the memories that this music evokes in me. For those of you that have read this far, I am grateful that I was able to share this with you.