Thursday, December 13, 2007

"If You Have The Ear of God..."

Shout out to the old Musician magazine writers! My brother used to have a subscription to Musician magazine back in the early 80s and it was a big "rule" for him that he got to read his own magazine first. (This makes me giggle now thinking back). But it was great when he left for college and sometimes I'd get to read it first. To begin this journey of writing and thinking about jazz in this more journalistic way (vs the stack of screenplays I have about musicians) makes me think back to those feasts of reading Musician in my early teens. At some point in the 90's a great anthology of the best of the jazz writing from Musician was published and if you can find a copy of it buy it now! The pieces on Lester Bowie, Charlie Haden, Joni Mitchell on Jaco Pastorius will have you swooning...just remembering them gives me chills, so this morning I grabbed the book and re-read the gorgeous piece Chip Stern wrote for/with Sonny Rollins. I just have to transcribe a few quotes here cause they're so touching. The piece was originally featured in the May 1988 issue, "Sonny Rollins: The Cross and The Rose." Stern points out that Rollin's Manhattan workshop had "a neat pyramid of books on Shintoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity...crowned by a portrait of an African drummer dancing against a brooding russet sky..."
At one point Sonny speaks so sweetly about a recent dream he'd had of Coltrane:

"We were hanging out together, like back in the old days. We were talking, and he was telling me some of his stories with his wry sense of humor. It was very upbeat; everything was harmony and love, you know, and when I woke up I was happy--smiling. I'm sure glad he came back."

And then on Louis Armstrong:

"When I think of the spiritual, I think of Louis Armstrong. I read where Django Reinhardt said that the first time he heard Louis Armstrong, he cried. Very spiritual. Very much beyond the physical, it's definitely beyond that--joy!"

The article ends with Sonny talking about the limitless possibilites of new discoveries on his horn:

"And guys say, 'Oh Sonny, that's impossible.' But I don't think there's anything that can't be done. Because music is such a spiritual thing, man. There's a place where I believe you can transcend these metal instruments and go to another area where you can impose a spiritual reality on the music you are playing. If you have the determination, if you have the faith, if you have the ear of God, you can do any of these things."

Thank you Sonny Rollins. Thank you thank you Musician mag for years of inspiration and excellence. Again, try to get hold of "The Jazz Musician: 15 years of interviews, the Best of Musician Magazine" Edited by Mark Rowland and Tony Scherman

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