norbert blei | night notes

19 02 2009

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No.169 | February 19, 2009

NIGHT NOTES: 2/19/09

It’s a line I heard late last night on public radio, the BBC overnight news. About 2:15 A.M. I noted it so I would not forget, come daybreak. I noted both the time and the line–a line I wish I had come up with.

How could I not have thought it? Seen it? Said it? Made the comparison?

The BBC reporter was in Canada, discussing Obama’s visit there today, relating some of the reactions amongst the Canadians. And suddenly there it was, coming over the darkest airwaves at two in the morning in my own living room…there was the line, hanging there… glowing in the dark.

I memorized it immediately. And for safe-keeping, turned on my reading lamp, reached for pencil and paper, and wrote it down:

“Obama is the Miles Davis of politicians,” I heard the voice say.

Jesus! Of course! Of course! Perfect!

KIND OF BLUE…(I reached for my old LP copy)…all the while visualizing the dark man with the bright horn on stage, alone (he was always all alone)…”So What”, “Freddie Freeloader”, “Blue in Green”, “All Blues”, “Flamenco Sketches”.

I switched to the stereo, set the old LP on the turntable, put the arm and needle down on “All Blues”…let the sound envelop the room.

I turned the record jacket over to an incredible little ‘jacket note’ penned by no other than Bill Evans (“Improvisation In Jazz”) …and swallowed the first three paragraphs like a poem:

“There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.

“The resulting pictures lack the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation.

“This conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflection, I believe, has prompted the evolution of the extremely severe and unique disciplines of the jazz or improvising musician.”

Obama…the Miles Davis of politicians.

–Norbert Blei/night notes/2/I9/09