Accompanied by a robust gin & tonic, I retired the other evening to a quiet spot in front of the fire to ponder the fate of the universe and perhaps consider my own as well. It was deepening twilight, or, as the Scots would so sweetly term it, in the gloaming. It’s always useful to peace of mind to find a moment for reflection, or to think your way through whatever’s tumbling around in your head—or at least try.
And I did make a valiant attempt to wrangle disparate thoughts whirling around like a Hendrix solo. But I found myself succumbing more and more to the music I’d clicked on, without real consideration—just what was already in the box.
Certainly something I knew well, a jazz recording some thirty years old that became more and more seductive as I closed out everything else and just let it flow. Proof yet again that perhaps music hath the power to soothe the savage beast.
In this case, it was Zoot Sims and Joe Pass doing the soothing–sax and guitar, nothing else needed—on a disc aptly named, “Blues for Two.” I was no stranger to this duet, considering it a long-standing favorite. But perhaps in light of what was in my own head, what started seeping in was recognition of the rich art being produced, the respectful interaction of two consummate professionals doing what they loved. Nothing flashy here, no one-upmanship, no flashes to prove brilliance.
Tasteful—maybe that’s the right word–and elegant. Pass providing a lightly chorded backdrop against which Zoot swings, then drops back to let the guitar take over. Or slow, lyrical ballads that meander gracefully up and down the range of emotions, the instruments and men manning them complementing one another. I’ve always loved Zoot’s sound—rich and full and soulful—and Joe was the master of wonderfully understated, patiently clear chords and notes. Both soloists of renown, made even better together. Men graced with talent, honed by perseverance.
Yet when all else falls away, it’s the heart and soul of the music that crawls inside you, offers peace and solace to your savage beast. Sometimes I forget to listen. But when I do, when I press my mind to go still, it’s a very real blessing. Doesn’t matter what you like or moves your soul if you just let it exert its power over you. As a buddy of mine would say, gives you another reason to live.