It’s not what you think. This isn’t about some soul-searching, life altering revelation. Although come to think of it, it might be. But actually, this is about getting down with my bad self…my pulsating, rythmic, jivin’, island soul. There are probably a handful of people in whose bodies I’d like to revisit this earth. And last night I met up with one of them, literally.
After watching him perform live on stage at The Jazz Alley in Seattle, he walked towards me down the narrow hallway, where I was waiting for my friend Sylvia to exit the ladies room. As he stood inches from me, speaking to someone, I leaned forward, touched his arm, looked him straight in the eye and said “You know when I come back to earth, and I’m almost 62, I want to come back as you.” Looking me up and down with surprise registering in his brilliant, blue eyes, Brian Culbertson could only grin and say “ohhhh…” He was probably thinking “Well let’s see now…you’re a middle-aged woman, Asian on top of that, and I’m a white, hip, 20-something year-old, male. Now what was that you were saying?” I think he was flattered, shocked, but flattered.
I do that to people sometimes. Say something they’re not prepared to hear. After 41 years of marriage, my husband’s not really surprised at what I might say. He can still be caught off guard, although he’s learned to smile, knowing there’s not much he can do to suppress my ebullience. Except once when he quickly covered my mouth with his hand when I said to his boss that I’d have wanted a son just like him, had I had one, and that I felt very motherly towards he and his wife who was standing alongside us. She was very sweet to say that I’d be more like a sister, since she was just 10 years younger than me. At this point my husband started backing us toward the door to take our leave. But we’ve socialized with them enough, so they know I speak candidly, and always from the heart. There’s a mutual feeling of admiration. They are generous people, down-to-earth and loving parents to 2 teens. But I digress.
Returning to Culbertson, I’m not a hard-core jazz afficionado, but after witnessing his musical genius and the wide-ranging talents of his band, and their passion for the genre, I’m sold. Stand me in front of a keyboard, put a saxophone to my lips, give me sticks to beat the drums, and teach me to blow a haunting melody from a trumpet, and I’ll be a true, blue, jazz junkie until the sweet angels come to take me away. Hallelujah! Oh, Lordy! Here I come…
The thing I most relished about the evening was the obvious camaraderie among the band members. It was as if the audience was the proverbial “fly on the wall” watching, as Culbertson and the guys jammed. Quite often their smoothe instrumental delivery would climb to a crescendo, finally bursting tinto a frenzied comingling of percussion, brass, keyboard, and electric guitar. I longed to be part of the creative process. And I’m certain I wasn’t the only one. All of us who bore witness to the passion these men brought to their music had to have been inspired. My inspiration was two-fold.
I’ve always wanted to play the piano. Brian Culbertson inspired me to get off my butt and sign up for lessons. He also spoke of the growing demise of jazz appreciation in our society, in part because corporate America doesn’t see the genre as profitable.
The first and only time my family and I went to Jazz Alley was because my favorite jazz radio station had emailed me a showbill of upcoming events. One of the deejays was on hand acting as hostess for the evening. We had a wonderful time, so it was totally incomprehensible when I turned on the radio the following morning and heard pop rock playing, instead of the usual sounds of jazz. “Whaaa haaapened?” Is all I could say. As I suspected, corporate know-it-alls decided what it was we wanted to hear. Always one to make my own decisions…I’m still scouring the air waves looking for a replacement.
meanwhile, culbertson cds will do just fine…hugmamma.