Friday, January 26, 2007

That Sunday, by Adam Gopnik

My father has given me:
  • A long time ago, a trip to New York City, where we stayed in the wonderful Hotel Chelsea and visited, among so many other cool places, the Village Vanguard.
  • A few years ago, a book by Adam Gopnik titled Paris to the Moon, guaranteeing Mr. Gopnik a fan in me for life.
  • Over the years, an appreciation - if not love - for jazz.
Adam Gopnik's new book, Through the Children's Gate, arrived at my local library yesterday and I spent my dinner break in the cafeteria reading as much of it as I could in 30 minutes or less. I chose That Sunday, an account of Bill Evans' famous gig at the Village Vanguard from June 25, 1961. It was a perfect choice. Beautifully written, his love for the music and the story behind it respectful and charming, I moved my way through it, unhindered by the usual workplace noises of dishes and mouths. Gopnik took me back in time and showed me Evans in his most magical highs and his very sad lows (drug addiction and outrageous self-doubt).

I'm home now and I am listening to that recording, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, as I type this. My living room is dark, it's almost 1 A.M. and I should be sleeping. But the music plays, and I am back in NYC and I can see that wonderful jazz haven, its steps descending from the street and into that room of so much rich jazz history. The glasses clink, the small audience claps - and chatters - and I remember being there as if I can still smell the cigarette smoke on my clothes.

More about that trip later. Now, Adam Gopnik on Bill Evans and That Sunday. You have 30 minutes.


ceeelcee said...

In the late stages of my Dad's Parkinson's (the really cranky stage) I took him to his hometown of NYC for one last trip. We didn't stay at the Chelsea (Dad wasn't a big Sid and Nancy fan...) but we did bluff our way past a long line to get into the Vanguard to hear Marcus Roberts from 15 feet away.

Cranky Dad almost got in a fistfight with a patron across the table from us because he was smoking. I was fairly mortified, and calmed the situation down by reminding Dad that this was a JAZZ club and telling the smoker to please calm down and not kick my 70 year old Dad's ass.

Then after everything settled down, my Dad grumbled a little bit too loudly, "Yeah, go ahead and smoke...ASSHOLE!"

Sure would have liked to have heard the end of Marcus' set...

CHEZ BEZ said...

Great story. I could see the whole thing. ;)