Why just the other day I was playing the music of a living titan of the tenor saxophone up on the big screen. This musician was not interested in chord resolution by any means. He needed something more. I had the volume not too loud, but loud enough. Two older woman reacted as I rang up their sale. They spoke quietly as if it were a private conversation not wanting to offend someone.
Karen: "Someone is murdering the saxophone."
Jane: (with a touch of sarcasm) "No...they're telling a story."
Karen: "Well what's this story about? Can you tell a story entirely in metaphor?"
Jane: "Well we're in no position to judge."
Karen: "I'm judging this. I'm sorry but it's just not good. What good is it if you can't understand it? What do you think young man?"
Me: (smiling) "I'm glad you asked that. When someone reaches this level of expression the feeling is paramount. It might be the feeling of what he experienced in his first marriage, or the feeling of trying to become a better person, or the feeling of trying to make the world a better place. It's obviously a very personal thing."
Karen: "But is he playing for himself or for the audience? I need the story to make sense."
Karen had me on the ropes and gave me something to delve into. I'm all about the story myself. I want to tell the real stories, but I enjoy science fiction big time. The line between reality and science fiction is paper thin to me. I like stories when the gloves come off. Stories with no limits. I'm looking for a way to bridge my literary world and my musical one. I came to the conclusion the other day that for me story is what it's all about. In music that's my new bottom line. Are you telling a story or not? I'm not just applying this formula to Jazz, I'm self-righteous enough to apply this to ALL music. Say what you will about rap and pop music, they tell stories. Problem is they usually suck eggs. I'm like Daniel Carter, everywhere I look I'm searching for gold. In Regina Spektor's song "You've got time" from the show Orange is the New Black she sings these lyrics:
"Taking steps is easy. Standing still is hard." I really took something from that. I've had lots of time on the sidelines. Orange is the new Black is loaded with stories. Good ones. It's the new crack but without the side effects. I still remember this guy on 8th ave in 1986 telling me "Got that crack, got that smoke, ain't no joke." He offered me a free hit. If I took it my story might be vastly different. Years later a friend told me at a diner on the Lower East Side at 3am that you can never match that first high anyway. This cat may have won the award for most firings by Cecil Taylor.
Stories can be where we see something go down that relates to the core meaning and experience of being alive. Do the right thing, or not. The core message of a good story is usually to live life. It's by living life that you get the real benefit. The choices and consequences are where you get into the Nitty Gritty. I feel that music should contain ALL of that. It was Bird who said that music is the story of your life. Here in Fat Eb I have told the stories of Roy Campbell Jr, and Sir Hildred Humphries. They lived lives that are stories and testaments to the power of music. The quest to make music your life. They will always be remembered for living lives of music. Their music is their story. I've set up interviews so people could tell their own living story. More of those on the way. If you're alive right now then you're a living story. What is it? Have you dedicated your life to something or someone? What would you be remembered for if you cut out tomorrow?
That's why I'm at odds with Facebook. If you're a FB user could you stop for a day? Could you stop for a week? If Facebook charged $50 a month would you pay for it? Would you pay $75 a month for Facebook premium? Watching everybody else lead their lives on Facebook it's easy to forget that you're supposed to be living your own. Is it all about people needing approval they don't get in their actual life? There are different directions you can go. I like it when people challenge your perception of religious reality like Lonnie Plaxico. I like when Ras Moshe gets you to think about the true reality of music and politics in the world. Some people initiate necessary discussions that otherwise would not take place. I have dabbled in this in discussions about the Crop Circles and also asking everyone on Facebook to describe a musical experience that made them tremble. Big response on that one. My goal was to prove that those moments were more important than any top 10 list. The other side of Facebook is family photos, cat photos, comedy, tragedy, and lots of superficial crap thrown on top. When you click on "new stories" you're playing roulette with the world.
The other part of FB I'm at odds with is that it's seemingly impossible for us not to invoke the love of our heroes and their music at every turn. I'm just as guilty as everyone else invoking Miles on a dime. We have to focus on the living stories. Some of us try to do just that. I've digested many living stories in many forms on multiple levels and extracted three core things that I think the human being is being asked to do. What we have always been asked to do regardless of where or when we lived.
Clean your body.
Clean your mind.
And the biggest challenge of all..
Clean your heart.
To be continued with the 12 Houses tonight at 10pm at the CSV. Peace.