Joshua White at Blue Whale

Saturday night, March 18th, 2017.
Overcast, but not fishy.

There are so many parties tonight that I was not invited to.
I can’t think of one in particular, but I know people are somewhere being electric without me.
People are flying off in airplanes, to London and Iceland.  
People are at home, getting laid, or eating consciously prepared meals together.

I'm in a Lyft, exhaling dry sarcasm at my driver.

He tilts his head left and back,
"It says there's traffic on the freeway."
"Well, it's the freeway."
He laughs, seems relieved at my jaded P.O.V on traffic.

I’m on my way to see Joshua White at Blue Whale. Joshua White will play a piano. And two other people, Dean Hulett, and Gene Coye, will play a bass and drums.
I have no idea who any of them are.

So many buildings under construction in Downtown LA.
Urban, high-tech-wasteland, giving me an Akira boner.
That’s not depressing.
The boner part.
Akira might be depressing, but I’m not sure.
This is all theoretical.
There is way too much Febreeze going on in this vehicle.
I suspect olfactory-induced brain-wave pollution.

GOT TO BLUE WHALE

Riding the escalator between a man with wondrous, round spectacles, and a mauve pocket handkerchief, and two little Asian boys with a bucket of power tools. Escalator empties till it’s only me, and the bespectacled man. We chit chat, the man is from Miami by way of NY, and has never seen Joshua White either. I’d guess him in his early 60s, and I adore his subtle pinstripes, handle-bar mustache, and woven-toe dress shoes. I want very badly to be his best friend.

At the Blue Whale entrance, we part ways after paying. I aim for the bar, because I am on a date with myself, and the lady would like a cocktail. I get the “Bees Knees.” Frosty funnel-shaped glass, yellow condensation, lemon rind, honey.

Sit myself down on a cushion with some space next to it, in case the rounded-spectacle man wants to sit next to me. He’s like a tan, dandy, with a Max Headroom slick-back. I want to know if he goes to the supermarket like that. And jogging.

Girl in her 20s glides by in all white, with black lipstick.
She doesn’t know we already did that in 1994.

The energy in the room is inverting my darkness a little bit, extroverting me, subtly. Feeling different.

I make toasts in my head.

It’s a good night for frustration!
*drink*

Where there is cymbal chatter, there is the voice of a reverend, speaking in tongues!
*drink*

To the brief union of myself, and my inner, rounded-bespectacled, twin of sartorial spirit!
*drink*

To the abject horror of the existential loneliness of the consciousness trapped in my skull which, nonetheless, extracts science-fiction based arousal from the particulate-matter-ether of Downtown Los Angeles under construction!
*drink*

THE ACTUAL MUSIC BEGINS

Josh begins by shooing the notes out of the hedges. Scattering like pixel static, autumnal, feather, frenetic, softness. Dexterity, contained.

Dean (Bass), walks on, makes stinky face when Josh vacillates between flutter texture and pedal fullness. Joins in, deep wood rattles. Stunted, walking texture – that strait plus swing, thing. Double stops, plodding, lovely.

Gene (drums) comes in with the original meaning of Beat Drop.
This is what jazz is supposed to be. I’m so glad I came. I haven’t experienced this level of organic interplay, in a long time. This is what listening sounds like. Every mind on stage is an ear – I sound high right now, but hang with me. I gotta take off my jacket. Trumpet player enters. Snare chatter just synched up with the trumpet phrase– an accident with intention.

Dean moves into a bass ostinato, like a heartbeat. 1 to minor 3 with murmurs. It’s disarming, but affirmatively deep.

Flash! All in – all the blood bursts out, reckless, feathers frayed, mad walk.
A section of torrential time.

Winding down now with R&B suggestions, they’re playing at it. Loving mockery. A 3-note pattern in octaves by spider fingers. All smiles on stage. The simplicity is a joke, but simplicity is the most effective joke in music – which is the joke.

Drum solos over a bass and piano ostinato. It starts with a snare march, glides into deep pocket, now colors, now Josh is fucking with us with dabs and trickles – gliss – bass groove laid so far back, music historians will have to analyze this. Groove is laid so far back you gotta Carbon date it.

It all winds down to open octave in the left hand, and a few echoed dabs and droplets above.

End.
No sustain.

Damn.

AFTER THE SET

 I had to stop writing after the first tune, because I needed to experience the music in the moment. I had to be fully present.

After the set, I speak briefly to Josh. He is very kind, very tall, and very brief. Emotionally, on stage, he already said more than some say in a year, so there was no call for long-windedness.  I hope to see him play again.

Rounded Spectacles is at the bar, looking observant, and anachronistic.

Dean, Gene and the trumpet player (SO bummed I did not get his name.), are hanging outside, overlooking the plaza. I tell them they were brilliant, incredible. We talk in short sentences, and it comes up that I’ve played Blue Whale too.
“What do you play?”
I want to say, “I write at home, when nobody is around. I write notes for instruments, and give those notes to people who play them better than I do. Then I sing.”  I didn’t say exactly that though. I said something more like I write music, and I sing, and then something vague, with wishy-washy arm gestures.  I should always remember to pretend like I’m horse, and just go around with a box of lined cards, with pre-prepared responses. I can totally rock the “hot enigmatic chick” thing, but once I get talking, the “you had a Star Trek poster on your wall” thing becomes apparent.

I walk back to the elevator, with what swagger I still have. Feels like pants around my ankles. I was never cool.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Joshua White trio is, in the words of Duke Ellington, “Amazeballs.”
Whenever he’s playing, stop everything you’re doing, and go see them.

The “Bees Knees” cocktail is as advertised.

The Blue Whale ladies’ toilet has a broken handle. This, I assume, is due to zealous wizzers. Some recent night, several jazz-enthused ladies NEEDED to get back to their seats before the bass solo, and so were callous with their flushing technique. So of yer in the ladies' lounge at Blue Whale, the inner flusher thing is jerry-rigged to a knot of TP, which is hanging out of a hole in the porceline. Just lift it, it's all good.

@Jazztoilet, that was for you.

 

 

 

 

Raya Yarbrough

Singer, Composer, writer of absurd stories about LA, chanteuse on Outlander, BSG, DaVinci's Demons, & I used to date Dick Grayson.