Saturday, October 23, 2004

Some Music, Please

Even in the middle of litigation and a critical election, one cannot live all the time at a fever pitch. October in New Orleans is Jazz Awareness Month, a program started years ago by the Louisiana Jazz Federation, whose board I was on until it finally collapsed. (I didn't do it, I swear.) Even with the LJF dead and gone, keeping JAM going has been seen a worthwhile thing to do by several local music and cultural agencies. One of the most popular events is the "Nickel-A-Dance" programs at Cafe Brasil on Frenchmen Street just outside the French Quarter. These are free programs of traditional jazz at 4 pm Sunday afternoons during October.

Tomorrow I'm going down to hear Evan Christopher, who is certainly one of the hottest rising stars in New Orleans jazz today, and at 35 he's one of the youngest top level players in a field that desperately needs new blood. He's a superb clarinetist with fabulous technique, imagination, and taste. He's also very knowledgeable in the history of the music, largely self-educated as most of us interested in this field have to be. He got himself in a little bit of trouble a while back with some of the older, long-term fans of this music. He wrote an article about traditional New Orleans clarinetists for The Jazz Archivist, the journal of the Tulane Jazz Archive, that some felt was insufficiently respectful of earlier generations of clarinetists. (I personally didn't see anything wrong with it.) So I suppose that means he has the healthy ego that you have to have if you're going to presume to make your living playing music.

Also, it doesn't hurt that he's one of the most gorgeous men I've ever laid eyes on. He grew up in Long Beach, California, I believe of mixed European and Hawaiian ancestry. The Caucasian/Asian mix very often produces children of stunning facial beauty. But any pineapple queens reading this will have to be disappointed. He has an equally gorgeous girlfriend that he's absolutely devoted to.

So it will be nice to get out of the house and go hear some live music. I've heard Evan play before -- even hired him myself once for a concert I was producing -- but only with small ensembles, never a full band. Should be good. Of course, I won't be entirely ignoring my job situation. Far from it, as the place will be filled with trad jazz fans, many of whom I know, and who are my natural constituency and support base. That should be interesting.

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