I’ve been working on a post about a wonderful meal I had at a new restaurant last weekend, but I’ve decided to write this post instead. It could be that I’ve decided I’m not good at writing about food. I’m not a food critic, and it’s hard to describe food in a way that will make you taste what I tasted. I didn’t take any pictures of the items I ordered, I don’t have much to work with. So you’ll just have to come out here and dine at State Bird Provisions. I guarantee, it’ll be a meal you’ll remember for a long time. But maybe it’s also because summer is winding to a close, and it’s been a cloudy day here, and I’m sitting in my office surrounded by my favorite books, feeling wistful and slightly dreamy that writing about music seems more appealing. Earlier today I read a friend’s Facebook post about her adventures in Paris. She moved earlier this summer and plans to stay for three years. Lucky dog. Anyway, thoughts of Paris were still on my mind when later, I came across one of my favorite CDs–the soundtrack to ‘Round Midnight’–tucked into my bookshelf. The movie, the story of a young French man and a die-hard jazz fan who befriends American expat and jazz musician Dale Turner (played by Dexter Gordon) is based on the true story of a friendship between a Frenchman, Francis Paudras, and American piano player, Bud Powell. It’s is one of my favorites. Filmed in black & white and shot on the narrow, cobblestone streets of Paris (well, probably a movie set created to look like the streets of Paris), it’s everything I love a movie to be: romantic, leisurely paced, and slightly tragic. I was in college the first time I saw ‘Round Midnight,’ and I remember leaving the theater and walking straight to the local music store to buy the CD.
My piano teacher, Tatiana, used to say that “music is the language of the gods,” and listening to the soundtrack just now, I have to agree. Every song on the soundtrack fills me with an ache, a sense of melancholy and longing that I find simultaneously searing and delicious. I’ve written other posts about how much jazz means to me, how it’s one of the few musical genres, maybe the only one, that penetrates my very being. And I’m not the only one. My youngest daughter, Sweet Pea, feels the same way. Earlier this evening I picked her up from basketball practice and we tuned into the local jazz station on the ride home. Art Pepper’s “When the Sun Comes Out” came on and Sweet Pea gasped and turned up the volume–just loud enough–and we drove the last few blocks in silence, both of us swept up in the music. The song was still playing as we pulled into the driveway, and Sweet Pea, sweaty, tired and hungry, asked if we could sit for a few minutes while the song played. “Can we just just close our eyes and listen?” So, we did. We sat together in the dark and listened to the music. When the song ended, she turned to me and said, simply, “Jazz.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know.”
So, now I’m back upstairs. It’s dark outside and Autumn’s first breath of cold air is seeping through the shutters. But that’s okay. I have my books to keep me company, I’m listening to ‘Round Midnight,’ and I have that good, tucked-in feeling. Here’s Dexter Gordon playing an extended version of “Round Midnight.” Lean back, close your eyes, and listen.