Monday, October 24, 2005

At The Toshiko Akiyoshi Concert.

I sit next to an 8-year-old blonde girl who ignores the music. Instead, she draws in her sketchbook. First, she draws the band. Then, Toshiko. Finally, she draws the people in our row. Her drawings are charming but unflattering. When she gets to me, I flash her my best smile. But it doesn't work. She draws me anyway. The portrait is charming but unflattering. She looks at me and grins. Her two center teeth on top are missing. I pull out my little moleskine pocket sketchbook and draw a picture of her. It may not be charming, I think, but it's not unflattering. Without a word, we exchange drawings.

Meanwhile: Toshiko. Five foot four. Seventy-six years old. Small hands. Japan's premier jazz pianist. As a little girl, she had no jazz teacher — just Bud Powell records. As a young woman, she sailed for New York, land of Bud. But by then, Bud had been institutionalized. When his family visited, he showed them his newest songs. He banged them out on a keyboard he drew with charcoal on the white wall of the visitors lounge.

Tonight, Toshiko plays Bud's "Un Poco Loco". She also performs a billet doux she wrote to him when she was young. Toshiko likes the movie they made about Bud in Paris. They turned him into a tenor sax player. The great Dexter Gordon played Bud. Dexter died soon after. Bud's been dead since '66. The movie's still around; it's called Round Midnight.

13 Comments:

Anonymous davis said...

Girish. This post is a tour de force. Seriously. Write nothing else for at least a day. Let's sit with this one for a minute.

October 24, 2005 2:14 AM  
Blogger Ed Garrity said...

Hey Girish,
Some time ago you had a blog posting about favorite authors. I stayed away from posting but enjoyed reading others' comments (this post just reminded me of that).
Well, I agree with Davis. This was a nice post. I always enjoy reviews/writing that start with a very personal, up-close, detail and then expand out to more macro, encompassing viewpoints on the topic (like a film director). The writing style - very Ernest Hemingway - short, rhythmic bursts of story.
(On a related author note, I also enjoy Dean Koontz's writing style, especially enjoyed "False Memory," but, whoa, I'm way off the topic of this post, sorry!).

October 24, 2005 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Someone's been reading James Ellroy...

October 24, 2005 7:31 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt--I've never read Ellroy, but I'd like to.

October 24, 2005 7:58 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Wowza. Yeah, I saw that film too; it was kind of moody and despairing, if I remember right. I liked it though.

Good post.

October 24, 2005 10:51 AM  
Anonymous rakesh said...

Girish,
I would really love to get into Jazz music. Help me out. I am zero when it comes to Jazz. Please bear than in mind and suggest me some jazz records.

October 24, 2005 10:53 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Rakesh--huge question; where to begin? I'd suggest picking up John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman, and Getz/Gilberto. They are classic albums that are also instantly accessible. If you like them, let me know and I'd be glad to suggest a few more.

October 24, 2005 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

A fine post, Girish.

October 24, 2005 2:59 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, guys.

October 24, 2005 5:25 PM  
Anonymous toox said...

Toshiko's daughter Monday is one of my favorite musicians... check her out here if you like:
www.mondaymichiru.com/

October 24, 2005 11:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Wow that's neat.
I had no idea....Thanks!

October 24, 2005 11:45 PM  
Anonymous rakesh said...

Thank you, Girish. I will try getting those albums when I go to bangalore next week(It is difficult to get Jazz albums in Kerala)...And sorry abt the errors in my messages.

October 25, 2005 10:04 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Good luck, Rakesh.

October 25, 2005 11:17 AM  

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