Jazz has taken over my life.
It’s definitely not the jazz you’re thinking about in Nigeria right now, but something a little less involving of incantation or some kind of juju charm and hypnotism. Now that I think about it, I wonder why Nigerian music and Nigerian traditional medicine seems to have similar naming systems: juju and jazz don’t just refer to music, do they? Now, in jazz music, the only horn you have is the one that makes music, and not the one for incantations; and the only charming you get from it is the one that mesmerizes you, and not the one that hpynotizes.
On Saturday, I was hosted along with Reham at the home of the Palestinian American family of the Tamaris. The food was nice, the conversation was splendid, and the children were fun. The two kids spent the whole time playing a game called “Life”, and their parents’ response to them when the children invited them to come and play with them was “Why should I play Life when I can live it.”. Splendid.
The other surprise of the evening came when the host opened up his audio library and gave me a ton of jazz cds to choose from. I’ve never seen so much jazz and blues albums in one place. Well, I have, actually, but that was at Jazzhole in Lagos, Nigeria, where one needs a large amount of money to be able to get a really nice cd, book or picture. I remember spending hours and hours going through Jazzhole looking for something I could buy with my little student stipend, but I was disappointed. Anyway, I digress. I left the Tamari’s house with a bag of songs from Chess, Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Buddy Guy, Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Rush, Etta James, Little Milton, Koko Taylor, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Miles Davies, Julian Adderley, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Big Bill Broonzy, Bonnie Raitt, and a guy called Taj Mahal. Earlier on Tuesday, I had been given a gift CD of John Coltrane by my artist friend for my birthday, and Ben has complemented it with another gift of the hits of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. All of these songs have now found their way into my iPod, and when I look at it, the little device now looks so surprisingly heavy.
Now, coming back from a visit to my artist friend’s house, I found another library of a different kind: books. The food was good. The movie we went out to see was even better: Love Happens, featuring Jeniffer Aniston, which is really a beautiful, moving story of family and loss than romance. I think I must have shed a tear somewhere towards the end. Now I have in my hands “The Augobiography” of Miles Davies, one of jazz’s musical pioneers from East St. Louis, written by Quincy Troupe. It is 441 pages long, and I won’t finish it soon, because I have a lot to do in class during this week, but it’s enchanting to read. I’ve started, and I’m loving it so far. I am being jazzed, but this is one time when it comes with a total feeling of satisfaction.