Sunday, February 25, 2007

loaves and fishes

I'm having a loaves-and-fishes moment with my nylons.

I swear I've never owned this many pairs of nylons (especially without runs or holes in them; especially not black opaque v. black sheer), but somehow, every Sunday, I have multiples of everything to choose from. I'm not buying more and I'm pretty sure I'm not stealing from my roommates, considering none of us wear the same size.

Something must be going right in my life:)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

take my breath away

One of the best writing teachers I've ever had said that, for marketability, it's best not to write about things that are close to your heart, while you're in the heat of the moment. No one else is feeling what you're feeling, and you'll tend to forget that if it's really poignant for you at the time. It's easy to go off into uncharted waters with your readers, and subsequently lose them completely.

I'm going to take that chance.

I'll preface with the fact that this was the grand finale concert of a jazz festival devoted as a tribute to Maynard Ferguson. Jazz charts aside, Maynard Ferguson has even topped the pop charts. The man combined two of my very favorite artists in much of what his band did -- Maynard Ferguson (ha), and Stan Kenton, whose band he played in early in his career. Kenton's ballads are part of his (Kenton's) signature sound. If you've ever heard "I've Never Been in Love Before" or "Then I'll Be Tired of You," you probably have a taste of what that means. He screams his heart out, and then drops the bottom out of it until it's barely a whisper, and you have to lean forward a little so as not to miss anything. It was really fun to hear a lot of that Kenton personality in these Ferguson charts. What a blend.

My dear friend flippin said tonight, "One of the things I love about jazz is that it does things with music that an orchestra shouldn't do." His comment sums up a lot of what we heard at this concert.

"Stratospheric" is a term commonly used to describe Maynard Ferguson's playing. He warped that trumpet of his -- and his flugel horn, and his trombone, and his baritone, so we saw tonight -- into sounds that should never be able to come out of a piece of brass. It brings to life the very instrument itself and makes you think that, if you could touch it, you'd feel something special. "The high work" was always done by Maynard Ferguson.

The second half of this concert really blew me away. (Although, if you asked my date, he'd say that started with the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy chart that scared me halfway out of my seat with its opening chord - that was probably in the first 45 minutes of the night.)

It opened with video of Maynard Ferguson himself, taking the audience through his glory days of the 70's (what a collar) all the way up to one of the last performances of his life, in July 2006 in New York City. He died on August 23 of the same year. What a player. The guy was a showman, and toward the end of his life you could see it giving him just this immense satisfaction to sit next to that baby grand and sing through that instrument. It was kind of a sobering experience to watch. You think about the things in your life that YOU have that kind of reverence for.

So the lights go up on the all-star band of the night. Couldn't have asked for better casting. Men who have played for many meaningful bands -a lot of Maynard Ferguson's own. What else, for a tribute concert? BYU's got more clout than I realized. This includes the lead player from Tower of Power. :)

Second ballad, second half. The show was excellent up til this point, but that ballad dropped my jaw, pulled my hand to my heart and melted me to my seat. The trumpet player, Eric Mata-something, just made you want to lie down, and then Steve Lindeman pulled this lyrical magic out of nowhere - I swear, it was Chopin - and laid into that piano. I couldn't handle it. I was almost gone, but after "Danny Boy," flippin inquired after the condition of my heart. My hand stayed where it was.

Of course, the band wasn't done with us, yet.

"MacArthur Park." I have a penchant during many performances to want to call people (usually family) and let them hear a snippet of what's going on via speakerphone. I know, it's bad. Anyway, my dad educated us growing up on lots of Maynard Ferguson, and this is one of the most recognizable of all of his charts. I can't tell you how rough it was on me to have zero reception at this point in the concert. (Don't worry, my phone brightness was set to zero.)

You know that feeling where you just really wish Dad could be there to hear this? Where you feel almost lonely that he isn't sitting in the chair next to you so you can give him a sideways glance to confirm that he is, indeed, enjoying this as much as you knew he would? You feel this physical reminder of the fact that your family is 1200 miles away and can't be here with you to share in the joy and emotion of this moment, because you know for them it would also be pure elation.

I missed you tonight, Dad.

So the concert finished out on a good note. A standing ovation for that living fountain of expression. A complete experience, until Ray Smith turned around and said, "All right, here's what you've all been waiting for."

(Another key Ray Smith quote from the night - "I was watching this on YouTube...")

He was right, by the way. Their encore turned out to be the song flippin and I had been refraining from talking about during the entire concert.

Has anyone ever heard "Birdland?"

Sorry. That may have been one of the moments where I lost you,readers. If they'd have said that sentence over the mike tonight, though, you wouldn't be able to hear yourself think right now because of the roar from the audience.

Instead, they just started to play. We were beside ourselves. When I think of Maynard Ferguson, I think of "Birdland." flippin has the recording of the guys who actually wrote the song first (The Weather Report). I can't say anymore about this song right now because I'm too emotional:). I'll lose you the rest of the way.

In short, I believe this concert overshadowed the former placeholder for "best jazz concert of my life" -- Count Basie's band. (This might be because I saw Count Basie's band something like five or six years ago. The memory has faded.) I felt like the luckiest girl in the world tonight. What a legend.

May everyone have a passion. May everyone feel this way sometime soon.


My only two disappointments:
  • No flute solos.
  • No "Route 66." Admittedly not a Maynard Ferguson standard. I like it anyway.

The detail-ish highlights of the night:

  • a couple of HOT drum solos. I nearly finished flippin's comment, which described the man well: "To be a good drummer, you have to have two things: A sense of rhythm, and a sense of humor."
  • A TRICK during "MacArthur Park," in which the band started to leave the solo section, gave a good intro back into the main idea of the song, and then - JUST KIDDING! - pulled out one last solo! Are you kidding me? Beautiful!
  • one trumpet solo in particular that made me laugh like crazy, it was so genius
  • that freaking hot surprise ballad stuff from Lindeman
  • the fact that BYU's own Ray Smith directed that all-star band
  • the way Dennis diBlasio hugged his colleagues after the solos
  • The way Ray Smith didn't kill flippin with his claw-cane (this was a small worry for a short time)
  • the fact that I took a PERFECT person with me for this concert. I know we'll still be friends, even after that concert. (I worry about that sometimes, especially in the really good concerts. I make a fool out of myself at jazz concerts...but the really good ones are particularly embarrassing. I've been known to go alone to these concerts, rather than go with someone who just doesn't understand.)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Living Legends Post #2:: a dream revitalized

I have this dream for my kids to grow up having at least some familiarity with Spanish and ASL, besides English.

Spanish is incredibly useful and also so beautiful. I love to read it out loud so I can pretend I actually speak the language - even my roommates (who all served Spanish-speaking missions) said I sounded halfway decent the one day we did morning scriptures in Spanish. I should revive my "simulated foreign language housing" idea for my apartment so I can keep learning that one. It'd be great if my kids could learn some of this one while they're young and it's easy. It would be great if my husband could help me out in this one ... I couldn't take them too terribly far on my own, just yet.

ASL. Kids can use their hands at least three months before they can speak. I say, the earlier they can actually tell me what they want instead of screaming, the happier we'll all be. Also, this is another beautiful language, and really a pretty easy one to learn, too, at least conversationally. I've been teaching my little cousins ASL, and they think it's a pretty fun game. Sometimes they even remember what I've taught...

I'm also a little biased in the ASL department because I grew up with a deaf friend who was always feeling left out of things. How hard would that be? Kids have it rough growing up without having actual communication barriers. I wish I'd have known a little more when I actually lived around her and maybe could have made a bigger difference in her life.

When I was little, I told my dad that I was going to learn every language in the world - even Portuguese (the most exotic language my little mind could imagine at the time). He said, "Oh, really!" and tucked me into bed.

It appears the idea never really left me...

Living Legends tonight - front row seats

I was in a field, at home. Probably wearing exactly what I wore today — tennis shoes, jeans, a t-shirt and my blue Adidas jacket. I was probably in front of a crowd, because I felt a little solitary, even though I couldn't have been the only one there. The ground was hard and the grass was kind of matted to the dirt; it was like one of those early-morning service projects that gets you out of bed a little before you were really ready, but fills you with a little thrill of excitement partly just because you know you're up before most of the world. It was early enough that the fog was still pretty thick on the ground, and the water droplets in the air would tingle the skin just a little. (You can tell I'm not writing about Utah, here.)

I digress.

We were obviously waiting for something, and I knew the early hour was worth it, even though I wasn't sure exactly what was coming. Suddenly, someone wearing big white wings came out of nowhere, and before I knew it, the field in front of me was full of feathers, drums, and calf-high boots made from rabbit skins. I felt almost invited to experience the emotion that drove these people to share with me what made them who they were.

This was my first time to see Living Legends, and I was blown away. With nearly every transition, I felt carried away to the mystic cultures which called out from the stage for me to notice that a little part of what made them, them, was probably in me, too. It was something that tied us all together as part of the whole human race. From the depiction of the ships sailing to the Promised Land and the tribal war dances to the wedding-white dresses of the Polynesian story of rebirth and the closing hymn, “I Am a Child of God” (which, I'll admit, choked me up just a little), there was something essentially real and human that drew me in. No wonder this group takes this show all over the world as a missionary tool.

I grew up in various parts of the Midwest, and took tests in elementary school about the Native American cultures who inhabited my neighborhoods before my parents' parents were born. I've always identified with this part of history just a little, if for no other reason than I was constantly surrounded by it. Tonight, during this show, I was carried back to the historic Indian villages I used to visit as a little kid. I was carried back to the bus in middle school, when my friend Jessica told me about the life size Cherokee babies her mother crafted for shows and stores. I remembered the poem I wrote in seventh grade about Andrew Jackson giving out the order which marked the beginning of the eviction march called the Trail of Tears. I even thought about calling my mom to see what happened to that photo of me wearing the headdress my grandpa brought back from his mission to the Native American people back in the late '40's.

My veins flow with some of the whitest blood there is—lots of English, lots of Dutch, a smattering of Danish and every other little European country that produces blonde hair and blue eyes (plus a few that don't). Tonight, though, as the story of my country and others like it unfolded, along with the sneaky, well-placed Book of Mormon verses dotted throughout the performance, I felt like the dancers were telling my story, and that of every other member of the audience.

Welcome home.

this was originally going to be a much longer post

I had my first Board dream two nights ago. That was kind of exciting. *ahem* was sitting in front of me in church or something, and Uffish was sitting next to me. I think someone was trying to figure out who I was, like a spy, and I can't remember how I felt about that. This post would have been longer if I'd written it yesterday when I remembered more from this dream.

I didn't say it was an interesting story.

The end.

"You just needed some time to clear your mind. And you seem to have done that."--Flight of the Conchords, Jenny

Monday, February 5, 2007

Money is an interesting thing. Everyone says you aren't supposed to talk about it, and you aren't supposed to ask people about it, but I grew up doing just that. My best friend and I would always walk around together and talk about how we were going to the dollar theater, because it was CHEAP. We liked shopping at thrift stores, as opposed to regular stores, because we could get awesome stuff there - for CHEAP. Weekend shopping? Dollar store. CHEAP. We would go through the Wendy's drive through - because it was CHEAP. We were absolutely not bashful about the idea that we were completely broke. Even now, we often tell each other exactly what we spent on the other's birthday or Christmas present, because it's like this competition to see who could get the best deal.

Cheap was good. Getting a deal and saving money was an accomplishment, not something to be ashamed of.

At college, especially in the later years of college, I've come to a startling realization that this is not how the rest of the world works. I can't play this game anymore, because now if I vote for the cheap or free option, simply because I already spent my $5 for the week, people are nervous for me and it becomes this big thing. No more advertising.

It's almost a disappointment, really. I used to be famous for being able to get things for almost nothing. With several of my close friends, this is still the case. However, now, for the first time, I am either around people with whom this is not the cool thing to do, or I am around people who are such beautiful people that they want to help me out, or at least feel like they should. I'm just used to being around people who are all also broke, so we just converse together freely about our broke state.

Guess times change. I think this is one sign of becoming an adult. Money has become more than just a way to live; it all of a sudden means something. I'm not sure I'm a fan of this change.