Quaint ramblings and occasional reflections of a journeying Aussie musician...

23 October 2006

New York - Brooklyn Sometimes

Customary to the Jazz musician's pilgrimage to The City is the acquisition of a lesson, some time spent with someone personally considered to be a great, a source of information to glean from along the way of the lifelong journey, mostly for one's own benefit but in certain cases to absorb that information to be passed on to friends and colleagues. Of course these 'lessons' may not necessarily be of an entirely scholastic or academic nature: having taken a few now I've found them to range wildly, from actual discussion of notes and chords and rhythms, to tangental discussions of philosophy and astrology...
Sometimes it's great to just to watch a guy, to observe a certain bend of wrist or turn of finger while playing. Sometimes it's just to spend time with a guy, to maybe pick up one thing not even necessarily even musical, which was part of the reason why I went to his gig. After hanging with him for a bit I figured that I still wanted to talk to him, that there was still some to be learnt, so after checking out of the hostel, some scattered phone conversations led me to take the 'orange ones' heading east from the island.
The carriage emerged from the tunnel into a white misty sky, and the vista of Brooklyn had my vision entirely occupied. DJ said something a while back about this largest borough of the city, if free-standing itself as a city, would be the nation's fourth largest. It certainly looked that way. The line ascended into an arc at the top of which was my station. Barney's apartment was easy to find, and I took a seat next to a kindly old upright.
Having been in this situation before a few times, I had emailed some questions to him a few weeks before in the hope of a specific approach, at least to start with. But as I have written before, one gets swept along with these people, these incredibly optimistic, forward thinking people, and it always, without fail, ends up somewhere else. No flat fives or sharp nines here folks! today's tangental territory wandered into Cuban religion, santeria, the Orishas, and Yemaya, goddess of the ocean, mother of dreams and secrets - love it!
But don't get me wrong - Barney answered all my questions as well as giving me a whole bunch more to think about, as well as loading me up with a DVD of original charts and influential music. The 'lesson' was cut short by the arrival of Gary, a stalwart New York horn player of some twenty or thirty years and one of Barney's closest musical collaborators. We ended up watching parts of a video of Barney's recent gig with legendary ex-James Brown alto player Maceo Parker.
Taking my cue, Barney called me a cab, I paid him the nominal sum he'd forgotten about and sped off toward JFK. It had been a markedly positive experience spending part of the morning with him, and he'd plied me up with more than enough musical knowledge to keep me going for a good time to come.
Thoughts wander on the cab ride to the airport, but this time around I somehow missed out on the common dread of impending return, still transfixed by the dreamlike nature of this place, seeming eerily quiet and still on a Saturday afternoon. Caught a poster at a lights on the opposite side of the intersection - "Divorce only $300 - no spouse signature required." Strolling down a boulevard on the way was a middle age black man in a canary yellow suit and brimmed hat, complete with walking stick....
It was like a dream that I didn't want to wake from. At various times in my life I thought I'd never get there. But I did, and I can't wait to go back...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Roger Ramjet and his Eagles
Fighting for our freedom
Fly through and in outer space
Not to join him but to beat him.

Roger Ramjet he's our man
Hero of our nation
For his adventure just be sure
And stay tuned to this station.

Come and join us all you kids
For lots of fun and laughter
As Roger Ramjet and his men
Get all the crooks they're after.

Roger Ramjet he's our man
Hero of our nation
For his adventure just be sure
And stay tuned to this station.

truckloads of love
roger doodle