Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I heard the Brubeck quartet mentioned below in Wellington in the late fifties or early sixties. I have never been a Brubeck fan, though I've liked a couple of things he did - Take Five & Blue Rondo a la Turk from the Time Out album; & Miles Davis' version of The Duke, Brubeck's tribute to Duke Ellington - but I've always quite liked Paul Desmond. & since hearing live jazz from overseas was a rarity in N.Z. in those days I went to the concert.

Desmond entranced me. The first number had a piano intro, & then Desmond came in over the top. He lounged - that's the only way to describe it - against the curve of the Steinway & from his first notes on it was something like an i.v. drug rush. He had an electricity.

It's a feeling I've had a number of times over the years, usually from compact things, a poem or a painting, a track from an album - k.d. lang singing So in Love on the Cole Porter tribute album - or the occasional single or t.v. spot - I recently heard Cindi Lauper do a fantastic version of Time After Time backed by a pianist & C.L. on dulcimer. Rarely do I get it from novels though there are exceptions - Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers & Burroughs' The Naked Lunch are two that come to mind - but shorter prose pieces (J.G. Ballard, Borges, Samuel Delany) quite often get me in the gut. I got it the first time I saw the Sydney Dance Company, when I saw my first Bergman film, when I saw Kurosawa's Rashomon. I got it from a scene in Billy Liar where Julie Christie made her screen debut, walking through a market with a vitality that was totally mind-blowing. I still get it from anything by Bach or Miles Davis even if I'm hearing it for the hundredth time. From Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Occasionally I get it from people.

But the times from live music are few. I've mentioned Desmond. The High School I went to in Wellington used to hire out its assembly hall to the local chamber music society; & late one afternoon I listened to Mstislav Rostropovich rehearse for a couple of hours & have loved the sound of the cello ever since. There was a Dylan concert I went to in 1974 at the Sydney Showgrounds. Jimmie Webb doing his songs - Wichita Linesman, Macarthur Park, etc. - at The Basement in the early nineties. &, wonder upon wonder, a Michael Jackson concert at the Parramatta Stadium in the mid-eighties, where we sat on the playing field, & the synthesizers started, & the earth began to tremble. & we danced all night.

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