Summer in the city
Posted by keithosaunders on July 17, 2011
Another great week spent in New York. What a town! I can’t believe I lived here for so many years.
I had three gigs this week, and when I wasn’t gigging I was hanging out in the city, mostly at my favorite club, Small’s. I’ve got long hair and a goatee now and everyone says that I look like a Californian. Of course this belies the fact that I often had this look during my New York years. Back then it would have bothered me to have been mistaken for a Californian, as if there was an inherent put-down in such a comment. These days I don’t care; in fact, I’m amused by it. Listen, there’s no denying it any longer..I am a Californian.
Musicians have been very welcoming to me since my return. They seem genuinely happy to see me and curious about what my life in the Bay Area is like. For my part, it feels great to be able to feel at home on both coasts. Something that never occurred to me in all of my New York years, was that it is possible to actually like both places. The inclination is to belittle the opposite coast. I’m guilty of it — there are jokes to be mined, for crying out loud! But at this point, from where I stand, it’s a waste of energy.
A highpoint of my stay has been sitting in for one tune at the late night jam session at Small’s in the Village. I was hanging out at the bar during the regular gig. After the band finished I was getting ready to head to the subway to go back to the Bronx when I noticed that there was no piano player to start the session. I figured, what the heck, I’ll play a tune. A sax player began the first few notes of Oleo by himself, and boom, we were off.
There is something about the energy of New York musicians that is at a different level than all others. I lived here for 26 years, and after a while you can’t help taking it for granted. But being away from it for a year and jumping back into the pool is an amazing experience the momentum is both startling and infectious.
I didn’t know any of the musicians — they were all young guys — but it felt great to be in there with them, holding my own, and enjoying the energy. The best part, for me, was the realization that even though I no longer live in new York, I haven’t lost that energy — that fire.
I played one tune, and ceded the piano bench to a young woman sitting in the front row who was patiently waiting her turn. I went home on the subway, which slogged its way up the 2 train tracks, and arrived in the Bronx an hour and a half later, none the worse for wear.