Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How My Dead Father is a Strange Meadowlark

My pop died a few months ago. Hit me pretty hard. Though he was a fairly unashamed racist, it never dominated his personality. You thought of him as just a good guy. He was a hard drinking man, and just the best kind. Never maudlin, always loving and friendly(unless you lived with him). Anyway he and I were very close. He loved my music and went to great pains to let me know that he got it. When I would play at family gatherings, he alone would listen to all of it. Everyone else would listen and appreciate and then drift into conversation, but he just had a . . . thirst for it all. He wanted all he could get of that.

I would bring him albums and cd's I thought he would like. One day I played a song for him. It was the second cut on Brubeck's Time Out. I told him that it just reminded me of his personality. He was really interested. I started the song. It starts with this extended solo intro. Just Dave playing all romantically. The old man looks at me--he likes it ok but it certainly is not him. But then Dave wraps up and descends in these block chords and the drums come in to back Paul Desmond's lush sax solo. Tears are in my pop's eyes. He gets it. It's cool, relaxed, smooth, knowing. It's my dad the way he wants to see himself. It was a great moment for us.

I never really knew the name of that tune although I could probably play the melody by memory. A few days ago, I downloaded that album into my I-Tunes. The tune is called Strange Meadowlark. Apparently the first phrase of notes are based on the call of the Meadowlarks Dave grew up listening to in California. It struck me as funny, and a bit ironic. One of the only black celebrities that I remember my dad just unreservedly loving was Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Here's "Strange Meadow Lark" by Dave Brubeck.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Well Here Goes

I think my first blog will be about Jazz. I just love it, and the more I play it and listen to it the more I realize that little else is really music to me. Lately I am listening to a lot of what I would call pocket jazz. Golson, Nat and Cannonball, Horace Silver. Holy moly. I wish I could Play/think like that.

Other cats i am only now starting to appreciate include Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry, and Bobby Hutcherson. Such amazing brains.