"A Year In Sedona~Meeting The Muse At Wisdom's Edge" is now available at Amazon.com. If you like this blog, you'll love the book!
When the outrageous but inevitable happens, just yell "Plot Twist!" Turn the page, start a new chapter and meet your Muse at Wisdom's Edge. Welcome to a more creative and contemplative time and place where growing older and wiser means beauty beholds wonder, age meets wisdom and story honors soul.
The older I get, the clearer it becomes that music may be the best way to reach a fundamental and essential place of truth deep within that nothing else can really touch. I appreciate a sweet moment with a Chamber group offering up the Mozart Quintet or an orchestra giving its all with a Tchaikovsky symphony. I love a spirited rendition of the Widor Toccata blasting away on the organ. I'm crazy about Tin Pan Alley songs and Broadway musical scores too. But for an unparalleled sense of liberation and comfort, just give me Jazz. Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk or Oscar Peterson on piano. The horns of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Benny Goodman's timeless clarinet stylings and Billie Holiday's belting. A special kind of heaven is an afternoon spent in a cozy venue listening to Jazz with other souls who understand the seductive charms and spells of the kind of music that if you have ask what it is, you'll never know. Sacred Jazz
Flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny (Photo: Pat Johnson)
A Valentine's Day concert featured the Dmitri Matheny Group (http://www.dmitrimatheny.com/) as part of a great little Jazz series offered by St. Luke's (www.episcopalnet.org/DBS/Sedona/Jazz.html ) a small
Episcopal church nestled in among the magnificent red rock mountains where we live. Maybe just what church should be all about because the concerts here are always, there's no other way to describe it, a spiritual experience. Once a month on a Sunday afternoon the priest, a Jazz musician himself, likes to joke that "on the eighth day
God created jazz." The assembled faithful respond with smiles and amens, every single one of them a believer who knows the
magical sense of well being you can get listening a good Jazz group. This time of year we see a lot of tourists around here and last Sunday's crowd was large, maybe 75 people crammed into the little sanctuary, which has sterling acoustics. They loved the music and warmed up immediately to Matheny and his flugelhorn, as he shared his tiny performance space with Ted 'T-Bone' Sistrunk, a great bassist and a smooth piano/vocals man, Steve Sandner. Matheny seemed in his element, at home with his music and happy to greet the appreciative listeners as he posed for photos and said a few words about his new CD, "Sagebrush Rebellion," an album recorded live from a performance at Dizzy's San Diego last fall. Charming, talented and friendly, he was a sweetheart, the perfect musician to offer up a concert of Valentine love songs, mostly old favorites from the Great American Songbook.
Valentine's Day concert at St. Luke's
There was a time when I wouldn't have appreciated a concert like Matheny's the way I do now. I wasn't always in love with Jazz. Only after I'd lived long enough to learn and appreciate the true meaning of 'improvisation' 'surrender' 'flow' and 'letting go', did I succumb to the sound that represents the experience of such words. A musicologist once described Jazz as "a language, sometimes intimate, often
boisterous, but always layered with experience and life profoundly
lived. It is in the act of creating the form itself, that we truly
find Jazz." (see Jazz etymology.) In the words of the old hymn, I was blind but now I see.
Maybe you've had
a Jazz experience like this, maybe not. But surely you've encountered music that left you feeling
larger, better, happier, even transcended. Sometimes when I feel not all here, I remember, as the saying goes, it's because sometimes I'm not all there. I ask myself then what music I would choose for the rest of my life and I know it's the kind that can take me to that higher plane where the angels sing and the
devils don't dare come around. I like knowing I can always put on a Jazz CD or go to a concert like Matheny's, a concert in a welcoming place with a family of kindred spirits. It's nothing short of a blessing to know that through music, the universal language of healing, we find the way back to a deep and abiding place within where wholeness resides.