Girls like to sing the blues too.
Larry preaches on the Hammond organ.
The last skeleton I ran into was Freddie at an Albuquerque Starbucks, on Halloween.
Before that, I shared a bench with a man of bones in Tulum, Mexico and listened to him sing his blues.
There were glorious skeletons painted on a wall in Cuenca, Ecuador overlooking the Rio Tomebamba.
Today, outside the Kaktus Brewing Company in Bernalillo, New Mexico, yet another collection of bones greets me. There isn’t a lot you can say to a skeleton that will bring them back to life, but I imagine he is hearing the music just like I am..
Glenn Kostur is the head of the Jazz Studies Department at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Picking up his tenor sax, he solos on the other side of the curtain and if this were a blindfold test I would say he ranks right up there.
I wouldn’t swear to it but I think I see the skeletons right toe keeping the beat.
Good blues can bring that which is dead in us back to life.
Bernalillo is a little rural town thirty minutes north of Albuquerque.
The town has some dirt roads, manufactured homes in disrepair, livestock grazing in back yards, Obama signs in front yards.The Rio Grande River and Bosque, a cottonwood forest, runs through town on their way to Mexico, New Mexico and Mexico have never lost touch and stroll, hand in hand, along the river on warm spring nights watching cottonwoods drop their cotton ball flowers.
Bernalillo has the Santa Ana Casino and Santa Ana golf course where Scott and golfing friends play best ball golf. Bernalillo is in a renaissance with housing developments springing up, city folks moving here to escape Albuquerque.
By the freeway, on the South Hill frontage road, is the Kaktus Brewery.
There are no parking spots left on the premises this evening and us late comers have to park on the frontage road outside the brewery.The brewery is in an old fashioned 1950’s house that has been modified to fit the business needs of a 2019 craft brewery. When you enter what used to be someone’s living room, the brewing area is visible through another open door. An older group of pony tailed fans, men and women, sit at the bar and drink. A blues jam is playing out in an adjacent patio area to the bar.
There is hardly room to sit near the patio so those who can’t find a place to sit, stand, hold a beer, listen to the jammers play their hearts out.
Blues, as I usually think of them, belong on a front porch in Mississippi on a hot humid evening. An old black man sits on the edge of his porch, guitar strings sticking up like copperheads from the river. He hits a few chords and then his sad story comes out, basic chords, notes bending so far you don’t ever think they will resolve. The old man’s old favorite hound lays on a corner of the porch close by with his tail providing rhythm, tapping the wood deck as his master’s knarled fingers move up and down the frets.
Women are lighting the place up tonight and their blues are always about sex and love getting in each other’s way.
The vibe at the Kaktus tonight is all blues, partly spiritual, partly venal, mostly party.
Rebekah plays clarinet and sings. Dan handles tenor sax. Dave plays bass. Louise is on piano. Andy plays drums and Jim plays guitar. It is Saturday afternoon after three.
This gig is at the Celtic Brewery, across the street from the New Mexico Jazz Workshop where these guys and girls jam on Saturdays. This audience comes to drink beer, watch sports on TV, gossip and network. The music, as Rebekah reminds everyone softly, has to be soft. A tip jar is on a table near the microphone.
The music this afternoon is from ” The Great American Songbook. ” Composers of the songbook are Jerome Kern,Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hart and others, all pre and post World War 2. The ” Songbook ” is full of jazz standards.
Clarinet and Tenor Sax sound good together and Rebekah reminds me that I have to sing like a vocalist on my Alto Sax.
Having lyrics you can understand is refreshing.
Teaching and playing are different animals.
Most musicians play and teach music but it is teaching that pays their bills.
There are lots of filters and bends in pipes that keep a teacher’s message from reaching his students gas tank. If Chadd could just run a USB from his brain to student brains, he could download his considerable music knowledge and wouldn’t have to wait for us to catch up.
Chadd teaches and Scott tries to be teachable.
Us old dogs learn new tricks but mostly we like to lie in the shade and dream about chasing rabbits.
Valentine’s Day at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, features ” Nosotros. ”
The music menu is hot, hot and hotter. The band belts out salsas, sambas, and, especially popular in New Mexico, cumbias.
Us ” Sax Rats” have come down this evening to listen to Chadd and the Band, have beers and tacos, see a live show after our sax quartet rehearsal at Scott’s house.
Nosotros, translated to English, means ” We.”
Valentine’s Day, day or night, is about love.
There is love on the bandstand and we, in the audience, are hitching a ride.
The little boy on stage, whose parents have been bringing him to sing with the band since he was three, is having more fun than the rest of us put together.
If you want to know what people are looking for, count the cars in the parking lot. Tonight, the parking lot is full.
The dance floor is also full,dancers barely having enough room to stand, The band is hitting their spots, ladies are dressed to kill, the audience rocks with a steady salsa rhythm and yell when a tune is done for another one just like it. Latin music has hot harmony, high note trumpet playing, fluid solos and tight, intricate, group ensembles..
Chadd plays his flute solo on a new plastic flute brought back from a music trade show in Los Angeles. He doubles on tenor sax and has been with this incarnation of the band several years.
I figure i need dance lessons in addition to music lessons.
It’s never too late to learn to dance even if you fluff your pillow and turn in before ten in the evening.
When people look like they are having a good time, they, most often, are.
This rock, in Embudo Canyon in the Albuquerque foothills, has slipped out of its parking space. It hasn’t been dug out, pried out, jarred out. It appears it was lifted out of the ground and carefully placed on the edge of the trail where we are hiking.
Why would someone move this boulder? Moving it leaves a hole in the side of the bank that is a hazard that will eventually be washed out by snow and rain.
” Let’s move it back, ” Alex jokes.
I think about it.
If we move the rock back will the cosmic order be disturbed? How far do we want to go to impose our will on the natural world? Has moving rocks become against the law in an open space monitored by cameras and posted signs? Do I want to hurt myself? Maybe the rock likes it out of its cradle?
While I consider, we walk past the crime scene,on down the trail towards the parking lot that is mostly empty this winter morning.
I’m suspecting someone will put the rock back where it was just because they can’t live with things out of place.
God made us with free will and my free will tells me to keep walking.
This scene has man’s fingerprints all over it.
Eric, a retired Army Ranger, who patrolled streets of Iraq in full battle gear, has told me violence is a way of life and controlling or neutralizing it was his living.
When I talk with a man who has had to take another human life, regardless of his reason, it makes me listen closer.
At Dion’s Pizza, the inscription on the T shirt ahead of me, reads, simply, “ Deliverance of Controlled Violence. ”
I don’t know violence like Eric ,or this SWAT man, but I know about words..
You only need to get a few cattle to head for the barn to get the whole herd moving in the same direction.
Sweet talk and glorious words beat violence any day for controlling human behavior.