There are questions here, but not the kind that offer counterbalance to the approaching daily onslaught of tasks and supervisions, and not the kind that help me check off from my list the item indicating that I’m doing the right thing. I think this guy always did the right thing, at least on the keys. Although this album would maybe argue that point, in that it feels so not like this player’s personality.
So I’m disappointed I couldn’t remember that this album is not in fact quiet piano introspection but a full-on horns-and-all band, making the day come on with a one-and-a-two-and-a like the rush of peoples ascending the stairs after trains arrive on both tracks, like the the trucks dangling above us on the overpass, the slam-rhythm on neighbor commuter cars setting off for the expedition at hand: the sounds of going out there, of extrospection. Extra out there, extra open to the dips and flows and peaks of the moment.
I guess that’s what some jazz is, right? Extra. This kind opens with an assault and smooths into a quiet one only two tracks later, arranger and conductor Mr. Oliver Nelson making his presence in the room known at all times via his big, big!, arrangements, horns and horns and horns that leave Benny G. behind by a decade or so, yet still stick together tight enough to pay him his proper dues.
I can list the ways in which I will go outside today, and to this soundtrack I will do it with relish, I will write it pretty and I will keep, keep listing. List the sounds outside like the neighbor kid lists his toys from the backseat of the van, list the tidal back-and-forth swoop of distant vehicles passing, the internalized squeak of the bus stop and the bus wires overhead, list the phone calls I will make soon and the tasks we all will accomplish this day, list the troubles of others and the doubts of yourself, like all the different pangs of guilt I will feel in two minutes when I have to stop working on this to work on other things, list the numbers and numbers of days I have stopped working on this thing in front of me, in order to work.
It’s okay; in the arms of Nelson and Monk it just it what it is. A day. Maybe not the kind you want or expect, but here and present and all accounted for. So whattya gonna do? So, go outside, don’t be too blue, remember the horn section backing you up, and let yourself be.
Octaves are yours: check ‘em off one by one.
[This is not from the album, but is what I was aiming for when I chose Monk today:]