(from a Brick’s Picks in the LA Weekly, c. 2008)
The kid was an artist, a painter, and consumed with all the passion and absurdity of his age. We were all talking, who knows what, and something was spinning behind us, the tenor breaking though the chatter and booze and smoke. The painter kid froze. We all kept talking. He didn’t move. Just some freak at a freaky bash, standing there and staring at sound. That’s Pharaoh Sanders, he said. He was right. He’d been taking it in, communing or reverberating or something quasi-mystical. Someone tried to talk to him. He absently waved him away. That tenor was roaring now, crazy whipsnake ups and downs on the horn. Listen to Pharaoh, the kid says, he’s speaking. We shut up and listened. The kid was right.
OK, he was crazy young. Kids get so overwrought sometimes, so into this stuff. Music becomes everything. Creativity is like oxygen in an anaerobic world. Breathe it deep, man. Suck on it like a big phat joint. Let the notes get into you blood, into your brain, into your soul. Forget all about your lousy job, or not having a job, or whatever’s really getting you down all the time, and ruining your life. Let a jazz musician make you realize that nothing matters but expression. Oh, those crazy kids.
Still, though, it’s not a bad way to approach things and music and life. Even if we’re older, more jaded, more realistic, less exciting. Yeah, yeah, yeah we have responsibilities and families to support; there’s gods to pray to, people to vote for, ruts to follow. But that feeling, like the painter kid there seized with stoned, inebriated focus that sucked him right into the core of Pharaoh’s mad playing….we all need to do that sometimes. The more miserable the vibe out there the more we need that jolt . The pure electricity of suddenly getting it and knowing what the player means. Hearing his message. Letting a solo talk to us, and speaking its language, if only for a few minutes in some dark, half empty club. Like Charles Owens this Sunday at Charlie O’s….blowing his smart soulful madness through some spontaneous suite that surrenders to the most lovely, devoted Trane, or out to lunch Eric Dolphy, a very down dirty blues, and electrifying Eddie Harris. Just sitting there stage side, and nursing a Jamesons and letting his groove turn your atoms inside out. Listen hard enough and it hits you….you get it! You really do. You can’t even explain it to anyone, let alone to Charles Owens when after the gig you sputter a man that was soooooooo cool and he nods and smiles. He knows. It got him too. Hell, he was playing it.
But you can get that vibe anywhere this week, not just Owens. Hell, at Charlie O’s there’s Rickey Woodard on Friday and Azar on Saturday, and that’s pretty nuts.
And you just won’t believe what you just saw, heard, and felt. But you know it got to you, grabbed you by your insides and shook you to your rattling bones, so you walk out of the club that night feeling different. Renewed. Blessed. So maybe it’s not like doing some deer in the headlights frozen trip at a party, freaking people out a bit with your intensity….you can’t get away with that past your twenties, I mean Jesus…. But you can still get so moved by some cat’s playing that your life just got better just by experiencing the right music at the right time.
Try it yourself. The music is in the clubs, playing. Go listen to it.