Documenting the music is important. In jazz, combinations of musicians come together and break apart so often that bands that have an actual life together are a rarity. That’s good as it makes for more invention and more creation, but I hate it when that great band is just a memory or that incredible jam floats off into the night. I want to have the possibility of hearing it some time or be able to hear it again. That’s unrealistic and greedy and impossible and ridiculous, but that’s the way I am. Twenty, forty, a hundred years on, I want to be able to cue it up and hear what was happening that night, with those guys. It’s not the same as feeling the heat of the room or seeing the sweat of the players or hearing crowd react to that last solo, but it lets me hear something that was once upon a time and allows me access to something that will never be again.
This tune, La Cruz, is from an album by Barry Wedgle and a bunch of guys he brought together in Boulder around 1979. It’s an example of music that might have slipped away in the hubbub of working and living and playing, but, instead, still exists for us to enjoy. I remember hearing this tune in person and all the wonderful players. I think most of them are still playing – the nimble Jerry Grannelli on drums, the legendary Fly McLard on horns, Barry on guitar, lucky Phil Sparks on bass, Jay Clayton’s beautiful voice, Collin Walcott, Paul McCandless, Geoff Lee on piano and others.
It was back in those days that Barry taught me how to listen. He made me sit down long enough and become quiet enough to focus on whatever was playing – Sonny Rollins, Paco de Lucia, Beethoven, Monk. He played endlessly with a dedication that was all-consuming. He helped me understand that the world isn’t always and doesn’t necessarily have to be ruled by order or authority and that passion is the fuel for everything. He showed me the finer points of hanging out and we hung out at countless gigs, listening to whoever was playing. It was an education.
Sometimes its easy to forget the past as it falls behind in the wake of the moment, but, when the music starts to play, it comes back, just as it was when everyone was putting it all together. It deserves attention and I try to still hangout in that special way that acknowledges and celebrates all the endless moments of creation.