Monday, July 20, 2009

Savor those unexpected musical moments

You never know where or when the music is going to catch you off guard. The surprising moments stick with the psyche.

We had to bail out early on this year’s 30th annual Montreal International Jazz Festival, but the music followed us on the long trip home. Quite unexpectedly.

1) A precautionary stop at a hospital emergency room for my rather balky leg at the time. Who should walk in to take a look at it? A hospital resident who is a jazz guitarist and writes about jazz as time permits. He said he studied with Art Davis at the University of Wisconsin at one point. His faves – Bill Frisell, John Scofield and John McLaughlin. Even more crazy, it turns out he did a medical rotation with an old college friend of mine who has a local practice in the same city.

2) A few hours later, we pull into a fast-food joint for something quick. And we’re sitting at a table, a few feet away from a ceiling ventilator fan, whose motor is making a rather remarkable series of three distinct Afro-Cuban-like rhythms. Each a bit different. First one, then the next (a bit longer and more complex), then the third. Then it would repeat the same three patterns. We sat fascinated, and I was wishing I’d had a hand drum with me, not just a laminated tabletop. The night manager walked by as we listened. She looked up at the fan, clearly annoyed that the motor was making any noise at all, oblivious to the rhythms. Such is life.

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