On turning 60 at the jazz fest...

Today is my 60th birthday - what a trip - and last night we went to see Victor Wooten and his crackerjack band at Club Soda in Montreal.  It was a jazz-soul-funk extravaganza and this is one of my favorite venues. Five years ago we saw the indescribable Cinematic Orchestra here - and earlier in the week the amazing Bill Frisell - and now Wooten. In every way, Wooten embodied the best of the tradition:  it was an integrated band of great talent and he gave everybody room to fly.  They, in turn, followed him with precision and affection so that the whole room was blessed by the music they created.

+ Wooten, of course, is the bass player for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - and this current incarnation of his music masters is only a few months old - so they are still finding their way into the groove together. But last night they were playful and creative with everything from Wooten originals to covers of Chaka Kahn and Stevie Wonder.

+ And there wasn't a real guitar in the house - all the string players were on various forms of the bass guitar - over which Wooten played Hendrix-like solos or Clapton-like melodies. Sometimes a keyboard filled out the sound, but mostly the 4 bass men, 2 drummers and vocalist found ways to blend and harmonize with one another so that the guitar was never missed.  And from time to time Wooten and his main musical consort, the head of the bass department at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, played Allman Brothers-like solos on thier bass guitars with a touch of funk.  Freakin-amazing.

Later, as we walked through the extensive Festival grounds, the breadth and depth of talent that has been brought together for this festival struck me as beyond comprehension. Think of it: 10 days of the best players from all around the world playing in every kind of style and sharing their gifts in both free and paid venues from 11 am to well past 2 am!  As we walked about in the cool Montreal air @ 10 pm, a 20 year old French blues woman with a full brass ensemble was tearing it up on vocals and guitar.  And we've only scratched the surface...

There are a couple of probably unrelated thoughts are swimming around my head this morning as I give thanks for the gift of my life...

+ Last night a young man on the Metro (the subway) offered me his seat.  I declined with a smile and thought, "Commence au festival... and so it begins."  It was a kind and respectful offer - after all my wildass head of hair has gone mostly white by now and he was all of 20 - so I look ancient.  I figured 60 was a good time to quit with all the hair product I got into 7 years ago in Scotland.  There I went to an edgy shop, told the punk stylist to do something outrageous and came away with a lot of blonde dye and a shaggy "do" that I've more or less maintained.   But now it is time to let the true silver dominate... even if young men feel the need to give me their seats on the subway.

+ For half my life I have been doing ordained Christian ministry:  30 years!  We're going to mark this milestone later in September back in PIttsfield with some sort of party.  There has been talk of bringing together some musicians for this anniversary, too.  I've asked a friend from Canada if he might bring the Sunday morning message and I'll keep you posted about how the soiree is shaping up.  Let's just say I am grateful to have found a way to reflect on the Scriptures, pray with all kinds of music and musicians and do so in the spirit of compassion...

+ My dear daughters sent us a gift certificate for dinner tonight at Rumi's - a GREAT eaterie in Montreal - to mark our respective birthdays (Di turned 50 three days ago.)  I am deeply aware how blessed I am to have these young women in my life - and one will join us tomorrow for an overnight in Montreal!

+ And last but not least is my sweet heart Dianne:  she is a real companion in life who has strengthened and challenged me in ways I never would have done by myself.  She has shared love and hope and joy with me - gone through hell, too - and continues to be a quiet light in my life.

So, we''ll eat some croissants today, buy some tea and books later on and the feast at Rumi's in Montreal... who could ask for more?

Comments

Black Pete said…
Bonne fete, mon gars!!

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