Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Music Room

Sanchez played the snares, even walked the bass.
Paul insisted he was better on drums.
Sanchez was too proud to listen to Paul.
He played, he even practiced after class,
skipping what he called the lesser classes
to keep to the music room; I stayed too
so we could seek the feel of “Sing, Sing, Sing”
with no expectations Paul’s orchestra
could even play “Unfinished Melody,”
which both of us, if truth be known, went through
walking in our sleep. Sanchez loved Max Roach
and Charles Mingus, and I Jimmy Giuffre.
Later, I idolized Stan Getz, and Art
Pepper, yet never learned to play a sax
and quit clarinet when high school ended.
Sanchez stayed with drums even after pool
took him over. He sat in with Freddie
Schreiber on bass, Jabbo Ward on tenor
in Pete’s Poopdeck down on Alaskan Way,
known for peanut shells littering the floor.
I was in college when we went to see
Getz at the Penthouse with the Gilbertos.
Getz came late: “Had to stop by a drug store,”
and the crowd laughed along with him. Did they
recall his first bust as a teenager
with a habit in the act of robbing
a pharmacy to score a morphine fix?
Dizzy Gillespie came to the Penthouse
and we loved him, yet neither one of us
could make it when Miles Davis was in town.
They may be dead now, but who among us
could follow where they went to get inside
such sound, for we could only imitate
what we loved, but never gave up until
the night janitor cleaned the music room.
If you wanted to build your self-respect,
you must master what you would always love;
even when, emulating Fitzgerald
and Flaubert, I may never make this swing,
though it’s too soon after the music room.

(22 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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