Saturday, November 20, 2004

Yogi Berra Explains Jazz

Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, it's right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.
Interviewer: I don't understand.
Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it.
Interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. That's why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn't know anything about it.
Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead.
Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That's when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they're the same as something different from those other kinds.
Interviewer: Now I really don't understand.
Yogi: I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.

(The above came in an email I received yesterday, and the funny thing is, a lot of it really does make sense.)

No explanation needed for this jazz: Halfling and I made it to The Jam last night, eventually. We were late in leaving here, and it took a while to find a parking place, but we did catch the last hour of it (that would be 2 until 3 a.m., incidentally). The whole vibe was much more relaxed than I had anticipated (somehow, I had pictured all the local young lions locking horns, if you'll forgive the mismatched animal metaphors); everyone was just up there playing and having a good time. As the lady in charge said at one point, where else could you hear such great music, for free, with no cigarette smoke in the air? The next one is in January and we'll be back for sure.

Alex was there, also for the first time, and he joined me and Halfling for 4 a.m. breakfast at Cafe Brazil. Amazingly enough, the place was still packed at that hour. I've never seen it slow in there. By the time Halfling and I turned in, it was nearly 6 a.m. Just the way a night of jazz should be...

And now, I'm hittin' it early for once: Here it is, a Saturday night just past eleven, and I'm sitting at home and nearly ready for bed. No, I'm not sick (in fact, last week's allergy problem is much better, thanks); it's just that I have a day trip to Austin that starts really early tomorrow. My two adorably cute nephews are going through "baby dedication" at their church in the morning, and the whole rest of the family will be there. It'll be a nice-but-short visit, since I have lessons to teach on Monday morning. I think the late night last night has actually succeeded in making me tired now, so I'll stop here and continue my thoughts when I'm back.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to Jim--fraternity brother, teaching colleague, brand-new father and regular reader of this blog.

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