When you travel far from urban centers, you meet wonderful new people and see sights and sites you wouldn’t otherwise. All quite exciting and often rewarding. And I don’t miss the wild proliferation of cellphone stores and nail salons of my native New York. But I must be a born homebody, for I miss so many things while on the road, mostly food — spicy cuisine, the easy availability of goods I’m used to (tasty wholegrain bread, bagels, Martin’s pretzels). You can make your own list. Johnny Hodges, who knew about life on the road, wrote a song, THE THINGS YOU MISS.
And I miss hip FM radio, especially jazz radio. (I know I could pay for Sirius or XM, but I’m not ready: remember that I still have cassettes at home and have only recently begun to covet an Ipod and you will know how far behind the curve I am. But I digress, unapologetically.) Driving from Maine into Canada, I’ve been struck, once again, by how lucky people are who can hear NPR — to say nothing of the joys of idiosyncratic college radio stations.
In Canada, I heard some reassuring Dvorak and Bach, but much more generic pop-rock and a good deal of local newsbreaks about the man who died after police used a stun gun on him . . . .
So it was a soul-stirring pleasure today to hear the strains of a later-period Goodman-Sextet style ROYAL GARDEN BLUES come out of the car speakers, without fanfare. The guitar soloist went on indefatigably, in the manner of the late Charlie Christian, leading me to suspect that it might be Herb Ellis, bluesy, profane, profound. When he was followed for a few choruses by two of the most recognizable soloists in jazz — Stan Getz and Roy Eldridge — I thanked the Fates for this six-minute interlude. And to hear the announcer then render the album title as RIEN MAIS LES BLUES or some such was an added treat. (My faux-French shouldn’t obscure that what I heard came from a Verve CD reissue of a Herb Ellis session, NOTHING BUT THE BLUES, truly worth searching out.)