Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans and Other Areas Hit by Katrina

Thanks to everyone who donated to the humanitarian relief effort at Bombs Away (Corvallis, Oregon) last night (Thursday, September 1). The XTET performed and John Bliss took the lead for the collection effort and did a terrific job! When we completed our evening of Jazz the total donations were $257 in cash and checks. And the donations didn't stop there as John reported even more the next morning. Every penny donated will go to the American Red Cross to assist in efforts to help the people who need it for the hurricane relief effort.

The XTET performed many tunes that we ordinarily perform (Jazz standards and some originals) but under the circumstances we wanted to pay tribute somehow, some as it turns out, many tunes took on our own somewhat limited take on a "New Orleans" flavored sound. We opened with a blues - that much I do recall. Did some Ellington. There were Cajun rhythms throughout tunes that don't normally have them. I cried (or tried to) with my plunger and did my best Sachmo imitation with a straight mute. We even played "When The Saints Go Marching In" which was preceded by freely improvised and mournful intro - if nothing else, the offering was sincere and we tried to do what we could in one of the ways we love - making music. Only a smattering of folks heard us - but what folks they are!

At one point I was asked (casually) to say something about New Orleans...well, I honestly didn't know where to begin or what to say. What could I have said? I've never visited the city, but always wanted to. Only in books, articles, movies and music do I know of that land. But what a fascinating place - and what an amazing history, not just for Jazz and music, but for all of humanity. Maybe I could have shared a silly adolescent dream...

I've always dreamed of visiting New Orleans, to be able to leisurely see the sights, meet the people, learn the history from the residents themselves, enjoy the food...and maybe best of all, take in some of the wonderful dream goes so far as to imagine myself joining in on some jam sessions, and actually holding my own....only to have Wynton himself join in - he'd slap me on the back and say, "not bad, not bad..." - then he'd slyly whisper something like "but you best keep on workin' in that shed - still a ways to go yet!" - but we'd laugh and get on great. He'd blow everyone away and it would be a blast. So many stories and experiences would be shared - so many new silly little New Orleans dream.

[And here I choose to edit out some of my various "reality" ramblings - there was something about day-late presidential photo-ops...a need for basics and simply doing the right thing at the right time...but I'm not sure I can articulate anything that is close to coherent at this hour - perhaps another time - the Major of New Orleans (C. Ray Nagin) seemed to sum it all up very well.]

When I heard Wynton Marsalis was performing (along with many other fine artists) on a tribute (NBC) I tuned in. I had my trumpet in hand but it didn't touch my lips since I was pretty much in awe of the power of what was being said - and what I know Wynton was saying to the world. Could anyone else hear what he was saying? I heard it tonight. It was unmistakable.

Also performing: Harry Connick Jr. (what a performer! must buy more of his stuff!) Aaron Neville (very moving!), Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and other backing musicians - well done!

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