In the Daytime
Driving through Alabama on Hwy 72 at 7:30 in the morning. Some 11 hrs.
Earlier 15 men played an evening of jazz in Conway at the University of Central Arkansas. The cats have been very consistent and serious about 110 percenting it on this whole tour. Last night was no exception.
Many highlights. From Elliot’s thematically concise and acrobatic offering on ‘Straight Up and Down’ (plus he’s suffering from a serious stomach virus and shouldn’t even be on a bandstand) to Vincent’s singing on Joe Turner’s Blues (pure soul, imagination and Ooo-Ble-Yew). The rhythm section was loping all night long and Carlos had his hard hat on.
The saxophone section played with absolute dedication and synchronized nuance on the very last song of the night (Ted’s arrangement of ‘Old MacDonald’) on the second to last night of the tour. Before the gig Ali, Vincent, and Sherman all scrunched over their computers working on arrangements for next week’s concerts in the House of Swing with Ute Lemper.
My 7th grade teacher, Sr. Lee Ann, was there. She was such a great teacher.
I still show off letters with her lyrical and meticulous handwriting. After an hour or so of meeting with our audience and talking to young musicians, I had the opportunity to sit with her for a minute. We shared jokes and pleasantries and stories. She told me, “I have loved you for a very long time.” It felt like someone putting a blanket over you as you struggle to sleep through a cold night.
Well, now we are under steel gray skies passing southern, ranch-style homes, alongside some railroad tracks, past an occasional field of cotton, passing small businesses bearing people’s names—-Lula’s, Roy’s, Beryl’s and the winner of the contest this morning goes to a lounge, ‘Stagger Lee’s.’ Frank said that’s because of how people walk out of there. I grew up down the street from railroad tracks and always feel something when I hear a train or see some tracks— tales of journeys upon journeys from the Underground Railroad to ‘The City of New Orleans’ to the Glory Train.
On I-565 east passing the Davidson Center for Space Research, the shuttle and some earlier rockets announce themselves proudly against the sky. Their beautiful, streamlined architecture change the mood of the highway and cast a long shadow over a chain-gang with fluorescent yellow uniforms and orange trash bags.
Places like Stagger Lee’s, yeah, I was in those too. As a boy, I never liked the smell of stale beer in a lounge in the day time.
At night it was ok because everybody was looking for something. In the day you can already see.
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