Tonight, we heard Chick Corea and Touchstone play in the Jazz at the Sheraton series. Such an old-timey set of names--Touchstone, Sheraton. Jazz, even. Imagine, dear reader, how my heart sank when Mr. Corea, after introducing the members of his band, each and every one of whom needed a haircut in the worst way (the flutist/saxophonist had a stunningly glossy mullet, for instance), announced that they'd be playing a program of music based on--wait for it, my lords--a reading of an L. Ron Hubbard novel.
But imagine how my spirits rose when the music was fantastic. They had a percussionist who had a set of very gray, very gnarly dreads that happened also to be extra frizzy on top--a halo-like nimbus atop this middle-aged Brazilian full-on freak. He had actual water in a dish that was miked so that when he dipped his hands in it and let it fall, you had the sound of . . . falling water. There was much rhythmic clapping, shouting, and even a flamenco dancer. You heard right. I won't get into the sexual politics of having a beautiful young woman doing this haughty yet provocative (haughty because provocative?) dancing in front of a bunch of, let's face it, paunchy, middle aged guys with shockingly bad haircuts. Yet the dancing was rhythmic, musical, full of spirit, celebratory--like the whole evening.
I have loved hearing the music in this jazz series over several years. I've had the chance to hear the up-and-comers, like Joshua Redman (now probably as canonical as anyone), the old pros, like Monty Alexander and John Clayton. And then sometimes you hear true, crazy originals, like Chick Corea, who has reinvented his music more times than Madonna and still seems as fresh as the morning news. Fresher.
The thing about jazz is that almost all recorded jazz pales in comparison to the live performance. Lots of folks--Marcuse, D.H. Lawrence, Walter Benjamin--have commented on, even lamented, the effect of recorded music on the immediacy and locality of live music. Well, I love recorded music of all sorts, but in the case of jazz, you better show up to hear the show, and I mean really show up, or you miss what it is altogether. Tonight at the Sheraton was where it all went down.