On January 3rd, 2014, my sister sent me a link via email with the title, “Have You Heard Anything about This?” As a result of this email, by the morning of January 4th, 2014, I was in Full Freak-out Mode. The link she sent was about the possible continuing and complete meltdown of Reactor Number 3, or perhaps it was Reactor Number Two, in Fukushima, Japan. There is nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, that puts me in a tizzy of alarm more than nuclear power, nuclear waste, or nuclear meltdowns. So, what is a girl to do, but head out on the town and enjoy herself? (In case there aren’t many good times left.) By the way, in case I have unwittingly just sent anyone else into Freak-out Mode, the verdict is that no one knows anything, or if they do, they aren’t telling us, and maybe everything is hunky-dory and maybe it isn’t, but Carpe Diem! Now, I should get back to my original point. Rather than spend a quiet evening developing carpal tunnel and ruining my eyesight, by scouring the internet for the truth in rumors, I purchased tickets to see Pearl Django at Jazz Alley.
I love Pearl Django, and if you don’t know who they are, you are really missing out on something. They play fairly regularly at Jazz Alley, which is probably one of the best jazz clubs in the Seattle area, featuring legendary artists such as Dr. John and Tower of Power, amongst numerous others. In fact, if you don’t know about Pearl Django, you probably don’t know about Django Reinhardt and that is almost un-forgiveable. He was the most amazing Gypsy-jazz guitar player of all times and despite an injury at the age of 18, which left some of his fingers burned and permanently paralyzed, continues to influence guitarists with his unique and vibrant style. I love Django Reinhardt so much that I named my cat after him. No kidding. I have a cat named Django and now that everyone has seen that movie, Django Unchained, you all know that the “D” is silent. Django is a wonderful cat and worthy of his name, but they don’t allow cats in Jazz Alley, so he had to stay home, which was probably for the best since he makes my boyfriend sneeze.
So there we were, with an intimate little table to the side of the stage, sipping our drinks (coffee for me as it was a very cold night) and waiting for the show to begin. I think it is important to mention that my boyfriend isn’t really into jazz that much, but he is open-minded and a good sport, and most importantly, I was buying, so all was pleasant in the world already (despite the occasional thought I had of the state of the planet). I was glancing around at the other tables and making some mental observations of the type of audience present that evening, which was very diverse and that is always nice to see, when the band approached the stage. With them, was an older gentleman whom I didn’t recognize from having seen the band before, and who was introduced as Bucky Pizzarelli. Bucky Pizzarelli! Well, I had heard of him, but I hadn’t known he was playing with them on this show. I was very excited to have this opportunity and for it to be so unexpected as well! The band began to play and my mind was completely blown away, but in the best of ways.
Bucky Pizzarelli’s photo from http://benedettoguitars.com
I admire talent and Pearl Django is an amazingly talented band and always worth seeing, but the star of the show on this evening was Bucky Pizzarelli. At first, I could only hear him, so I moved my chair to a better position, that I might actually see him play. I was startled at first at how fragile he seemed in so many ways. He was older than I imagined, but watching him play, was witnessing a lifetime of experience and joy in his music and any impression of fragility was easily dispersed. His fingers never faltered, they moved from fret to fret with no effort and no hesitation. As the younger men accompanying him began to play faster and faster, he overtook them and he became the leader and the smile on his face was truly something beautiful to see. The crowd was entranced and so was I. It was more than just good music. It was more than just beautiful playing. It was A Life in song. He is 88-years-old and while others his age, or even half his age, believe that they have nothing to contribute any longer, he is there, doing what he loves and knowing that he STILL has something special. I know he made me happy that night and the little tears in my eyes were not from fear of what may or may not come to my life or to the world, but to the beauty of life as it is here and now. We can’t all be as talented as Bucky Pizzarreli, but we all have something to contribute to the world, no matter our age or occupation. I never make New Year’s Resolutions, but I make resolutions at times and under circumstances that inspire me. I can’t put into words how any of us, even how I, should live my life, but consider this article as food-for-thought. The earth turns, meteors fly by, power plants may “melt” and so many things are beyond our control, but the world is still a wonderful place too, and full of beautiful life and maybe the greatest lesson we can learn is to accept happiness when we see it. In the words of John Barrymore, “Happiness always sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” I hadn’t expected to get a new outlook on life by attending a performance at Jazz Alley that night, but I guess I left a door open. So, enjoy your life, keep those doors open, and Happy New Year!