Daily Archives: December 18, 2010

MICHAEL McQUAID’S RHYTHMS

Michael McQuaid — reedman, trumpeter, gifted bandleader — is articulate, sharply witty, a fine player who knows his music and is a delightful writer, able to put the music into words.

Among his other endeavors, he is the sole proprietor of a fairly new blog, RHYTHM OF THE DAY, which appears at intervals (when the spirit moves him).  Its premise is simple, the results effective and charming. 

Michael finds a YouTube clip of a recording that moves him.  He then writes about the recording in a way that moves us.  It’s not simply, “Isn’t that a beautiful chorus?” but much more.  Each record, for Michael, is a way into the larger, mysterious universe of creativity, beauty, and the puzzles of “Why do musicians play the way they play?”  “How do we hear what we hear?”  “What is the relationship between recorded sound and feeling, memory, and the music itself?”

The only caveat is that Michael has at least four careers, or so it seems, and he was initially reluctant to allow me to write about his blog for fear he would then have to turn it into another obligation.  

As I’ve suggested, he is a fine thinker and writer — so much so that I have said to myself after reading two recent postings (“Jazz doesn’t know who’s playing it,” and “Bobby Hackett and ‘technique'”) that I would have been delighted to have written that.  See for yourself at RHYTHM OF THE DAY: http://rhythmoftheday.blogspot.com/

“DO YOU LIKE JAZZ?”

I’ve decided to post a photograph of myself — but with an explanation.

The Beloved (as a special gift to me) commissioned Lorna Sass, photographer and transformational life-coach, to do a photo shoot.  The rather serious portrait above is the result, taken in Central Park, with your blogger in full outdoor regalia.  (We attempted photos of me in my natural habitat: in darkness with a video camera obscuring half my face, but the results were less successful.)

Why am I showing off in this fashion? 

For me, some of the deepest rewards of the hours I spend on this blog have been my getting to meet kindred souls at a jazz gig. 

Politely, they ask, “Excuse me, are you JAZZ LIVES?”  “Are you that person who comes here all the time and posts things on a blog?”

These inquiries give me great pleasure — not for ego alone, but for the chance to meet someone new who shares my feelings for the music and the musicians.  I get to talk with someone who loves the way Joel Forbes plays the blues, who gets excited when talking about Bill Savory’s discs. 

And my sense of a large, living, friendly jazz community is renewed and enhanced in the most warm way. 

I don’t go home thinking, “The music I love will not survive”; rather, I think, “Lucy or Jerome or X or Y is a wonderful person, and I’ve made a new friend who shares my essential values.  We are not so alone!”

I would have stayed undercover except for a sweetly amusing incident that happened two nights ago at a Brooklyn beer garden that featured, for that night, a wonderful band and singer, with enthusiastic swing dancers enjoying themselves.  One pair of dancers was particularly sinuous and expert, in close physical harmony, and I couldn’t stop watching them even as a video-recorded the music. 

At a set break, I walked over to compliment them.  And the young woman (a wonderful dancer), having noted me at the bar with my videocamera, hearing my enthusiasm, asked very kindly, “Do you like jazz?” 

I restrained any impulses to say, “Do bears like honey?” or the like.  I grinned at the couple, took out my card, and presented it to her.  “Oh!” she said, “I follow your blog!” 

The interchange was very nice, but it made me think that perhaps I should come out into the public eye just a few tentative steps more.  It might say something about my nature that I took to the woods to do so, but you are free to draw your own conclusions. 

I don’t want more attention; in fact, I want to be unobtrusive and let the musicians shine — but I thought that emerging in this way wouldn’t (as the Sage Condon said) do anyone any harm.