At the end of my teaching career, I came to feel that knowing was overrated, that the willingness to say, “Gee, I can’t really tell you,” was so liberating. I could place the burden of Knowledge tenderly on the sidewalk and scoot away, not even looking back to see if someone had picked it up.
The enlightened state of not-knowingness is even more exalted when it has a soundtrack.
Here, it’s a swinging one, provided by the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet with guest star Riley Baker, trombone — Brian Holland, piano; Steve Pikal, string bass; Danny Coots, drums; Jacob Zimmerman, alto saxophone; Marc Caparone, cornet. All of this spiritual shape-shifting happened at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, on March 8, 2020.
It doesn’t hurt that the spirit smiling on all this lovely business is Benny Carter: if you don’t know his 1933 recording of I NEVER KNEW, set aside some time to be dropped into bliss.
Bless these fellows who so open-heartedly share not only what they play but who they are with us.
This performance was created only five months ago by the calendar but it seems like decades have passed. But perhaps counting the days and mourning our powerlessness is just another attempt at knowing — a reliance on evidence that constricts us, like a sweater that has become too tight that we can put in the thrift-store bag and give away without a second thought? I wonder. (Wondering is an activity approved of by JAZZ LIVES, in case you have any concerns.)
May your happiness increase!