Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck RIP

Here's one of many little things that turned me on to jazz.  It's a Saturday afternoon, late summer, 1994, and I'm walking down Omotesandō, meandering through crowds, promenading in and out of alleys, checking out sidewalk vendors with old books or chic junk on velvet blankets, enjoying feeling surrounded by fashionable people although I myself am just a poor college student.  There are the Dojunkai apartments, before they got boutiqued:  ivy and old concrete in a district of glass and steel.  There's the Marlboro guy towering over the end of the street.  I'm 24 and alone in Tokyo, but I have a date for that evening.  It turned out that the date would go badly - rejection of a months-long crush - but at the moment, that afternoon, life is sweet.

I stop in front of a music store.  They have real good speakers set up on the sidewalk, and they're playing Dave Brubeck's Take Five album at high volume.  I know just enough to recognize it, but I never got it until then.  The title track:  that coolly purposeful piano, that light lyrical sax, that deep bass like a whisper of solemnity underwriting the festivity.  And then that drum solo.  Played loud.  Recorded loud.  Played back loud.  It's visceral playing.  I felt it in my gut.  There was drama, expression, feeling in that drum solo.  I just stood there on the sidewalk, no doubt with some goofy look of near ecstasy on my face, because the music was just so damn rich and full and real and right. 

The good shit lasts.  It reaches who it needs to reach.  Thank you Dave Brubeck.

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