Tuesday, February 19, 2008

RS: The Beat Goes On

I went to Cleopatra's Needle, a quaint little jazz club on the Upper West Side, on Sunday evening—open mike night. I was not there to perform. I have neither the gift nor the inclination for jazz. I did perform a song in a show once and was encouraged to scat in the middle of it; and by all accounts, did a fine enough job. Did it, loved it, scratched it off the list, moved on. I love to sing, a musician I ain't. My friend, Sheila, is. She hears things in music that are totally lost on me. I envy both her skill and her gift.

We were there to scope out the place, preparation for her debut at open mike night. She's a damn fine jazz vocalist; and since moving to New York just under a year ago, has spent the majority of time settling in. But you can only live so long estranged from your passion before your spirit begins to wither just a little. It takes courage, though, when that passion has to be expressed publicly. Cowardliness ain't a tick for which she needs to be dipped. I'll be there when she takes the stage, well before her one year anniversary in the city, thank you very much.

So, we sat and watched. I saw the cogs turning in her head, the furnace lighting in her stomach, and the Sleeping Beauty of her passion gently kissed and awakened. I couldn't have gotten a better contact high if I were sitting next to Snoop Dogg.

There was a parade of passionates taking the stage. There was a range of talent behind the mike. There were three people, in particular, that I found most interesting—all over 65, two well into their 70's. I don't know their histories. Each had a comfort with jazz, a muscle memory far greater than the agility that time had worn a bit. Maybe they had lived the life and were continuing a love affair to the only extent the market would bear. Maybe they were sideliners who'd finally worked up the courage to shuffle into the game. Maybe I was there for the very moment they lived their dream for the first time. Whatever the story, or three stories in this case, they were living their dream. You could hear it. Mostly, you could see it. Just them and a jazz combo—piano, bass, drums, and delight.

If you ever find yourself too long separated from your passion, just go to Cleopatra's Needle. You won't want to spend another day estranged.

1 comment:

sezhoo said...

Thanks RS. This is exactly the sort of advice we all need. I hope to find a Cleopatra's Needle around the corner in my own little town.