The show swirls and spins, fluctuating, pounding your senses like they were rails below the wheels of a fully loaded freight train. The colors blur and the smiles around you glow with an ebullient radiation sweeping you away to a place that you know all too well.
The first time I ever felt the magic and intrigue of live, improvisational music was, oddly enough, in a shopping mall being served up by a simple three piece jazz band. I sat down a few feet away with my friend Matt who was a jazz guitarist and music theory geek. While Matt explained theory I began to drift off into wherever that band wanted to take me.
I remember the small five piece setup of the drummer vividly to this day. It was a deep crimson with a sparkling swirl that had the depth of the Mariana Trench. The band would move from one song into another and back again like some type of auditory seesaw. The high hat was snapping and sizzling between an undeniably steady bass kick and rat-a-tat of a swaggering snare. The fills caught the tables around me on fire creating a stampede of multi-faceted bass lines and infectious six string riffs that were bullet pointing my emotions across the ceiling of sound they had created.
Despite the notion that everyone around me was staring at me, they simply melted away with the rest of the outside world. It was only me, the music and the excitement of Matt’s voice, steady and constant. It lingered just outside my vision, as if it were a lost voice echoing up from some Tolkien like chasm, uttering some ancient spell of wisdom. I felt as though I had arrived. Not at some mythical place but something more like a circus of audible pleasures. They took me to a place where the clown car shot from the e string of the guitarist and then exploded from the bass players hands. The excitement encased within that magical sphere of sound was tangible and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Like any great show or any great anything for that matter, it came to a close. There I sat entranced in a state of shock and disbelief that it even happened, let alone stopped. I was left thirsty, something that no mere skunked out beer, common amongst even the most jet set high school scene could quench. Not even the tallest 40 ounces of shwag malt liquor could possibly quench that thirst. I wanted, no needed, more of those same funk filled, jazztastic, soul shattering moments.
21 years later I find myself back in those moments from time to time, from show to show, bouncing about between the drum fills and pulsing bass lines. It never truly ended though. It merely subsided into the back rooms of my mind, mingling with the legends of times gone by. Those moments haunt me, beckoning for a return. Back and forth, forth and back, searching for more than this life lacks…
written by Taco