I heard about this show from keeping an eye on my neighbor Anthony Wilson’s gig calendar and blog. He mentioned something about being commissioned to write his first orchestral piece in honor of his dad. The debut scheduled to coincide the celebration of both his father Gerald Wilson and fellow legend pianist Hank Jones, both turning 90 years old this year.
The only likely connection I had was Anthony – to help me get into this. But deciding to go to such a huge event a couple days before the actual show is NOT the way to do it. After a few inconclusive messages exchanged with Anthony, it was becoming clear that he wouldn’t be able to help me. So I sat at work on a Wednesday sulking… kicking myself mentally for not having planned ahead.
THEN – A few hours before the show, I unexpectedly received a text message from a new acquaintant Jason Luckett whom, along with his sister Josslyn Luckett – both active in the jazz scene – I met through my friend Esther Chae (of a different circle entirely). We exchanged numbers because of our common music enthusiasm. He was wondering if I was free, on a short notice, to go to this concert with him. He just happened to have an extra comp ticket and pass. I nearly died of laughter, and immediately jumped on it with such rush of joy.
After work I jetted out toward Hollywood Bowl in the usual LA rush hour traffic. I couldn’t wait to surprise Anthony. I wish I could have worked out the photo passes properly, but I did what I could. I heard they are insanely strict about it.
The show was hair raisingly incredible. What else to expect from such heavy.. heavy players as Kenny Burrell, Jon Faddis, Roberta Gambarini, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Lovano, Nancy Wilson, and the ever energetic jazz spokesperson Christian McBride? That’s on top of the privilege to hear both Gerald Wilson’s pieces and separately, Hank Jones. I watched, listened, and realized something… a small epiphany, if you will, of the intrinsic value of music, jazz, specifically because of the nature of its dynamics. Just as I watch these 90 year old men, getting the well deserved recognitions of their life long work… a near century worth, I felt them as interchangeable with an entity of music itself. One just can’t get there without putting in the time devoting entirely into it. Even that, one should also have ‘it’ at the first place! And they certainly have both.
In my opinion, music is an alternate dimension of life. All the variables, possibilities, compositions, dissonances, contrast, balance, harmony, etc., that’s LIFE. Each instrument is an organ with its own function, lock into place together and create a PRESENT, a momentary consciousness of a form of truth. This is one place I feel the synchronization exist with aging. With the decades worth of work, I can only partially comprehend the richness in all the intricacies each of their contribution means to the human intellectual advancement in general. With that I was both extremely humble, and full of firely life force of wholeness … and peace.
When Anthony came out to dedicate his composition piece to his father, that was another heavy layer in addition. With LA Philharmonic behind him, along with Christian McBride on bass – his music revealed the inter generational evolution and transcendence. Anthony, holding his own in music contribution, wrote a complete composition that brought tears to my eyes. There were so many things going on there that night. Beyond the identified values of music as said above, there were these emotional content I could only feel, but not able to word it.
I caught up with Anthony after the show. He seemed a little tired from taking a leave from a tour in Europe, to rehearse and perform, but fully happy for all the right reasons. It was a significant night for him, for his dad, and for music history. I am still happy that I was there for all of that.