Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I love jazz. I have to - it's in my genes. My dad supported himself through college playing the sax in his own band. It all came to an abrupt end sometime after college and a stint in the service however, when he took his huge collection of 45s and busted them one by one against my grandfather's garage wall. He figured he'd never be able to support the family he wanted as a musician. I don't know what happened to the sax - it's probably still floating around out there somewhere.

Denny got a job working for Union Carbide in NYC, became a commuter in a John Cheever novel and plunged his family into that lifestyle in the Connecticut burbs. There was always music playing at our home from opera to show tunes, but when Denny finally got back into music, it was the tuba. He would practice and jam all by himself with Sousa on his stereo. He also had a great voice and could sing with the best, and would in community plays, and with fellow musicians and the devil during those infamous cocktail parties you read about that always spiraled way out of control and late into the night. The next morning he would lift his voice to God in our church choir begging for more of the night before but compelled to bend in forgiveness for wanting more of the night before. It was that Catholic guilt-for-no-apparent-reason thing.

It wasn't until he retired that he took up the sax again. He and I lost touch so I never got a chance to hear him play. But my guess is he was probably pretty good.

Unlike Denny, I can't afford to retire - but that's okay. I've determined it's the Universe's way of keeping me out of jazz clubs where I would certainly fade out in a haze of smoke and drown in an ocean of drink -  eyes closed, chin mounted on one hand, my old ivory cigarette holder and vodka martini in the other - trying to fulfill that sinful desire my dad tried to hide so unsuccessfully from us all.My brother Pat is a musician, and Timmer and I don't move without something playing.

Once in a while I stay in Portland for the weekend, and if nothing is going on I hang out in the apartment listening to Friday night jazz on MPBN. If the program is good, it's heaven. A couple of weeks ago was one of those nights.  I sat in bed late into the night listening and putting down this painting. It's just a bunch of feelings -  something for me to remember the music that night by, and maybe Denny too.

Jazz • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

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