Good jazz can not only evoke past scenes, it provides them with a haunting soundtrack -- moving music turning into movie music. In my case, the memory movies (with my jazz-loving teenage self as the protagonist) are shot in black and white, in the fluid style of the New Wave filmmakers of the time, with a backdrop of glorious, bohemian Manhattan in the early '60s, jazz capital of the universe.
Jason Weber is a dark-eyed, intense-looking guy, maybe in his 30s. A few numbers into the first set, he launched into a sad-happy flowing melody that tore my mind away from my plate and left my heart in little pieces. Suddenly: A cloudy Manhattan afternoon, early fall, no money for subway fare, trekking two miles down desolate 11th Avenue for a few minutes of solitude overlooking the Hudson River at Gansevoort Pier (then derelict with rotting wooden planks, not the chic spot it is today), from whence I'd later turn eastward to the Village to commune with my kind.
Jazz like that will outpower any food. Nothing you can eat -- be it chilies, wasabi, or the sourest yuzu fruit -- hurts as deeply as good jazz, and no dessert is as sweet. The only sensual art that has a chance against such music is the best sex you ever had -- preferably accompanied by 'Trane, or maybe Mingus's "Good-bye, Porkpie Hat." (Do NOT attempt this activity to the tune of Monk's "Little Rootie Tootie.") The next day I Googled Jason Weber. Found his website. Discovered in "Reviews" a roaring all-out rave from 2006 by the late, great (sucks that he's dead) Buddy Blue, who was apparently as surprised and as knocked out as I was. It seems that when jazz lovers write about Jason Weber, they end up writing love songs.
Breath of relief when the band struck up a Thelonious Monk number, all playfulness and mathematical structure, releasing me from the capture of my sentimental movie to get back to the entrées. In the latening evening, Jason Weber and his sidemen were also cooking from the heart, another fluid, happy-melancholy melody, math and passion, drawn out in a long sinuous sax line that reeled my mind in like a hooked marlin. (Back to the derelict pier with a 16-year-old's vague heartache, watching the great gray river flow.)
Food is an easy physical pleasure, whereas good jazz is often difficult and complex and apt to steal your soul. Sensual, too, but in a sneakier way. An image came to mind of an old cheap paperback of the sort published in the late '40s and early '50s. On its cover, a tawdry-looking hotel room, where a long-haired brunette lies on the bed, wearing a white satin slip and an ankle bracelet, smoking a cigarette, legs slightly spread, while a dark-eyed saxophonist kneels on the bed between her ankles and plays.
No chef interview tonight, folks. We're done here. The chef of the evening was not at the stove but on the stage. (This review is dedicated to Buddy Blue and Judith Moore.) Naomi Wise - San Diego Reader