Catching Up

I have been lagging on my blog posts. Neither because life is too boring to find anything to talk about, nor because I’m too busy. Just a shift of gears, where I wasn’t feeling the motivation to document things so much.  So let me catch up.

After returning from Thailand, I had trouble sleeping. Jet lag, to start. But it seemed to persist through the month of April. So I missed seeing some of the changes happening in my own backyard. The generous supply of rain has extended the breeding season of the frogs in our pond, and attracted more nesting fowl than we have ever had here before: a family of wild geese, and two families of ducks.

Geese 1228

The turkeys who seemed to have disappeared last year are back, nesting in tall grass, and foraging around the house.

Turkeys

As long as I’m talking about birds, I met an adorable parrot at Hardcore Espresso last week. I asked his human to take our picture, and accidentally got this video.

 

Meanwhile, even though I’m not going on any long trips for a couple of months, I still seek adventures, even if they are more emotional than physical. One new edge where I have ventured: cuddle parties. When I first heard about tcuddle-parties03his idea a year or so ago, I was intrigued, but had qualms about doing it among strangers. I finally took the plunge. Although I was a bit anxious at first, I was soon at ease… in fact, I found myself rehabilitating my experience from the early 1970’s, when touchy-feeling stuff was the most important and radical thing going on in hippie culture, and in my life. Why, I wondered, did we ever lose this? I feel like I’ve reclaimed an essential process for being whole.

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I took another kind of risk when I enrolled in a master class at SFJazz. The teacher was Danilo Perez, who has been the pianist with Wayne Shorter for about 15 yIMG_1208ears. Shorter is not only the greatest sax player of the last 50 years, but also a pioneer in stretching jazz beyond form. (Buddhist meditation is part of this practice). This was not a piano class, but a session about how to improvise. So, I figured, anyone who can mesh with Shorter (like THIS) has something essential to teach me about improvising. I was not disappointed.

The first thing he had us do was to get in a circle, hold hands, and “Om.” Yep, jazz starts with ritual, just as I have been urging with my little group. If this had been a standard part of teaching jazz in the 1970s, I would have done a lot more of it then! (I dropped out of several jazz workshops I tried because people in that subculture were so ego-driven).

Most of the rest of the class was about rhythm–from a standard swing beat, extracting the Afro-Latin 12/8 feel, deconstructing the 4/4 of the swing, and making it sound like the beat is happening in a completely different way. I like this when I hear it, and dabble in playing that way sometimes, and was sort-of able to do my part when it was my turn to play in this class– but the skill and comfort level Perez shows with this technique is way beyond me.

More adventures and challenges to follow!

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