thelonious and others

i found myself at mona tonight downing tall glasses of beer and maintaining that soft buzz which so effectively insulates me from the constant anxieties and insecurities i’ve had to battle throughout the day. i close my eyes and just think nothing. pitch black. i block out the noises, the low hum of people talking around me. i feel good.

and then i hear jazz. there is a bass, a bass guitar, drum set, and alto saxophone. alto saxophone! i keep my eyes closed but i see myself standing in my room, playing on my shiny gold yamaha alto sax. yes! i remember being voted “most musically inclined” in middle school because i was first chair saxophone in my band and a jazz soloist for a handful of songs. i remember trying to figure out monk’s milestones or making up my own rendition of the pink panther. i remember trying out for region jazz band and not quite making it because i kept messing up the beat on the auditon piece. how sad! such trauma effectively ended my jazz aspirations…

but tonight i listen and listen. it’s some white dude wearing glasses who plays the sax. quite skillful. his band members are also all white, and if you close your eyes, you might even think they were black, the way they let the music flow and riffs run. i tell wook to notice how the sax is the star voice. when the sax guy rests, it just sounds like background music running on repeat. sure, the bass and the bass guitar do some clever melodies, but they’re both very subtle. even the drum solo, impressive in its array of different sounds and fast pace, lacks the pitch variation that makes the sax so damn sexy.

what impressed me the most about the whole jazz ensemble was that i can tell that these guys practiced hard as hell together and spent many long hours learning the music, but when they performed it, it looked as if they had just met that night and were improvising as they went along. jazz has that quality – the ability to accomodate improvisation and simultaneity while remaining within some fixed structure. it’s a shame that i am pretty tone-deaf and unable to keep a consistent rhythm, or else i would probably pursue jazz more seriously. but then again, it wouldn’t hurt to bust out the sax again and play a few tunes.

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