Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Jimmy Rowles ATO, Part Two

(Please see April Archives on Monday, April 30 for JRATO Part One)


It was a dark and stormy night making it quite difficult to find a cab. We were to make the journey to Lincoln Center from the corner of Bleeker and Thompson. Jimmy seemed to have some second thoughts about attending a 3-act opera, even if his was a personal invitation from the world-famous tenor Placido Domingo. (Please refer to J.R. At The Opera, Part I). He had been drinking since he got out of bed at 4:30 PM (jazz musicians occasionally stay up all night), decidedly uninterested in solid food.

Cab approaches LC in the rain and the wind. Beside me, I hear Jimmy grumble, growl, snark and gurgle, throat now parched for a drink because the cab took 45 minutes to get up-town. "Jimmy, don't worry", says I. "Look at those fantastic Chagalls!" "Fuck Chagall. Where's the bar"? It's going to be a long night.

There is a God and she has provided an aisle seat for J.R. Easy escape if he becomes restless, a predictable expectation. The Met is full to the back of the stalls, house lights come down, Maestro James Levine enters, bows and takes up the baton for the overture to Verdi's "Luisa Miller". Suddenly, in this vast space, there is the clear and gorgeous sound of a solo reed, executing a complicated passage. Jimmy turns to me, saying in what for him passes as a whisper: "The clarinet player's a BITCH"!!!! People all around us squirm uncomfortably, hurumphing "well REALLY" and shuffling programs. Jimmy exited the theatre before Rodolpho's first entrance.

We found him sitting in a sort of holding area where he remained throughout the night, fast asleep. When we went to fetch him, he was desperate for a drink and he got one. (Anticipating emergency measures might be required, I'd brought a flask of Stoli). "We are now going backstage to thank Placido/Pablo for an exceptional evening, okay"? Splat, snark, grumble, growl.

We arrive in the area just in time to see Maestro Domingo emerge from his dressing room, still flushed and a bit damp after his brilliant exertions. Wearing a huge, flowing robe of red and black velvet with a quilted collar, he spots Rowles. Sweeping our boy up into his giant embrace, he shouts: "JEE-MEE! Now you know where JAZZ comes from"!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

amazing stories! I really enjoy them. You're such a good writer too. Sheila