“Here’s the stick, boy,” Gonzales says to me. “Here’s the stick.” I’m practically shitting myself with excitement.
“Go get the stick!” Gonzales says with stick whispering through wind.
Oh boy! He threw the stick! The stick! He threw it! You see the stick? No? He threw it!
And so I skitter and scamper and clamber over all of the treelines and sprinklers that stand in my way to get that stick.
Gonzales has a way of playing with melodies in his album, Solo Piano, that is tantalizing to the point that I willingly put myself in a position of a dog just so I can play along. Gonzales’ jazz piano repeats a certain pattern just enough to let me catch the scent of the melody. I catch on quickly to the tune and think I’ve got a hang of it. I might even feel so smart as to think I might know how the rest of song might turn out–but then the pattern changes. It might only be a single not that changes, a shift in octave, but that little bit is enough to send the stick flying, and me, back on my paws, ready to run through hell and doggy paddle through the highest water just so I can catch that tune once more and return to Gonzales with that smug sort of grin on my face I get when I’ve got the stick in my mouth. I drop it in front of him. Yeah, what’cha gonna do now?
And then the stick flies again.
And I never tire. That is what is incredible. I can get the same stick, go through the same hell and the same high water, but I keep at it, continuously trying to catch firm hold of the rhythm in the firm jaws of my mind, only to be even more excited when I can go through the same hell all over again. Gonzales chucks the stick, and I race to see if I can catch the tune.
The piano is the best instrument for this kind of play too. The piano’s range is wide like a unbounded field that stretches to all ends of the Earth and double over back on its point of origin, Gonzales. He can manipulate melodies out of the piano like all of the different terrain I might come across, depending upon how far he threw the stick. He might make a small difference, sending the stick only a couple of yards, but he might also try and fake me out, or he might hurl it over the Rocky Mountains, but no matter what, I’ll always be chasing that tune.
Yann Tiersen – L’Absente
Erik Satie – Gymnopedie for Piano No. 1
George Gershwin – Porgy & Bess