Many people devoted to certain art forms are afflicted with incurable nostalgia. “What wouldn’t I give to hear Henrietta McGillicuddy play the blues on her Eb alto horn? They say she could play a whole year without repeating herself!” And it doesn’t limit itself to jazz. “Oh, yeah? Pergolesi could kick your guy’s ass! And on a bad day Stuart Davis was better than anything now hanging in MOMA.”
I could go on, and possibly I already have.
But I remember a refrigerator magnet I saw in the very early Eighties, that had these words on it:
Sage advice. I understand the deep longing to hear one more note of Bix, of Bird, of Billie — to time-travel back to hear Louis in 1929 or Blanton with Jeter-Pillars. But while some are busily dreaming of such things (I think of Miniver Cheevy with his collection of Black Swan acetates), the present is both glowing and going. As in going away.
So I am always urging the people who love this art form to enjoy what is happening in the present moment rather than licking the dust off the statues. A hundred years from today, should we survive as a species, I suspect that cultural historians will be writing about the Golden Age of the early twenty-first century. And if they aren’t, they will be ignoring some irreplaceably precious evidence.
Here are two glorious examples (with two more to come) of the superb art that is happening now. The artists are Matt Munisteri, guitar; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone and unusual reeds; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Greg Cohen, string bass — recorded just this month at the Soho Savoy, The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, New York City) at one of the regular Sunday-night epiphanies from about eight to about eleven PM.
WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM:
A “peppy” LOUISIANA:
Yes, we could all sit at home and play our records. But beauty, completely satisfying, is happening all around us.
May your happiness increase!