Saturday, March 22, 2014

the last book I ever read (Stanley Crouch's Kansas City Lightning, excerpt fifteen)

from Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch:

The saxophone told him so, every time he picked it up. The horn no longer treated him like a stepchild; it had begun to submit to him. That alto gave him things. When he had it in his mouth now, the reed and the mouthpiece seemed more natural. His fingers fell into place almost automatically. His embouchure was just like the one in the book, a dimple on either side of his mouth. The weight of the horn was no longer heavy. The keys and his fingers were getting along better and better. Sometimes something would jump out of the instrument and almost scare him: it seemed so much like a revelation. This music was his life when he was living exactly the way he wanted to live. It was on him all the time. Passages and rhythms went through his mind. He was hearing something different now, though it was still foggy, the notes and the tone indistinct. That was his style, still hiding from him, flitting up and disappearing. Every now and then he snatched a piece of it and held on until it was settled in his saxophone, locked in his soul, committed to a life sentence in his memory.

Somewhere along the way, he had taken to kissing his alto saxophone, to calling it his “baby.” It was surely his true love, for he had no other honest relationships. The saxophone was the only thing that gave him exactly what he wanted and he gave in return.

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