11 May 2010 § Leave a comment
Fingers dance on the keys with the grace of an escaping leprechaun, and I can hear the beat as if it was recorded through a window. The drum solos tell stories in the night, brightening every step toward the soft conclusion. The occasional snare hits rhyme with my heartbeat, and something outside. The snap of the metal and the rustle of the leaves are not so far removed from me. Fifty years is a holiday where I come from, our graffiti timeless poetry carved into tree trunks and healed into permanence.
The windows are open. I remember closing them, but I’m not sure when. A deep mahogany sound fills the room, and bounces behind the saxophone like something I could walk down the street to. The snares are louder in the mix, and I wonder who engineered the record. The dog barks – but he always does, trying to herd me around the house like he would the sheep in Australia if his ancestry was more intact. There’s a snuff outside, and I’m expecting a giant brown creature to pop it’s head through the screen to say ‘good evening.’
Thelonious Monk sets the mood tonight, providing enough flare for me to keep focused, but I can’t help but think that the moose outside is tapping his foot to the beat. It’s a ludicrous idea, isn’t it? Just as birds don’t think musically when singing the most beautiful songs, a moose doesn’t have any conception of jazz, does he?
Or does he? I open the door, and there he is, standing just a few feet off the covered concrete patio in the tall grass I’ve cleverly avoided cutting all summer by fishing elsewhere in the state. He’s looking at me, his rack four feet across, easily. So there’s no calves around, hopefully. He doesn’t look aggressive. He’s staring at the window. At the speakers providing us with ‘Well, You Needn’t’ and I’m thinking just that. I don’t say anything to him, knowing I probably shouldn’t stand with the door wide open as a bull moose stands only yards from me. If he charged, though, his rack wouldn’t fit through the door. He looks at me. What logic, Sean.
The sax comes in over a simple beat. The hooves move. I step inside, listening to every sound making its way to my ears. The moose is tapping it’s hooves through the grass in time with the song. I imagine him with sunglasses on, a cigar in hand. No, a trumpet. A cool jazz hat in between his horns, and a deep, bellowing voice crooning rhymes about beautiful women and something about the tragedy of a car wreck. His fur is slick, less thick moose hide and more Django’s hair. Sunglasses in a dim lit bar; what an ego. I leave the door open.
People are talking and smoke fills the room. There’s a cloud of it above us, you can see it better than you can see the bartender, I think. The waitress wants to know if there’s anything she can get me. Nothing but some soul in this place, please. I need to hear something that will make my ears twitch like she’s licking them with bass notes. The blue and green lights are a start, but they remind me so much of the jazz clubs in LA back when Miles was still around. What an ass that cat was, but man, could that motherfucker play with passion and roll it up in a pennysleeve or what. Those are the days I miss.
Who’s the guy on stage, I ask the waitress as she sets down the martini. She’s working for her tips tonight, and I’m more than willing to oblige her. No, the cat on the tenor. James, is it? I would like to buy James a drink after the set, maybe we could talk a bit. Oh, that’s a good technique. He’s got the hot air and rust on his throat to give it some smooth tone. I’m waiting for the punchline. The greatest thing about jazz, I’ll tell you this, is that all the dudes got their eyes closed so often they don’t know what’s around them but the notes flying around their heads. That works out for me just fine, being in a world that judges less for looks than cool. I fell in love with the stories jazz told me outside houses, and I could draw the notes for you in the grass, no doubt about it.
The woods of southcentral Alaska have been my roaming ground for years, and there are a few places, just like in the old town, that I can frequent for a good show and sometimes a drink, as long as the uptight cats inside don’t start making a fuss. Always thinking of danger first – just play some jazz, man, let’s listen to this shit together and have a high no drug could complicate. Hear that, right there? Louie’s breathing. No mistake, that one. Here comes the look. How can I make it clearer; I’m here for the music. Yea, I’m tapping my hooves, I can’t help it. If you got off your high horse, you’d do it too, and you and the moose can groove until the beat drops, no question.