Life is a kaleidoscope. Finished doormaning the jazz club when today was an hour old. Went through the all-nite gyro drive-thru … Greek burger, feta and black olives. Tipped the Mexican worker, $2 bill. Washed burger down with Jameson in my roly-poly Irish crystal. Tipsy. Slept ‘till nine a.m. phone call. Ross the roofer son needs car. Boss roofer needs help so Ross needs car. Car needs gas. Car needs new windshield from highway stone spider web crack—souvenir from yesterday. Get gas and Gatorade the color of window wash fluid. I need coffee. Favorite smart theater-seamstress waitress back from a month in Japan. Daddy had research project, mommy is from there—explains her exotic Jewish-Oriental cuteness. She asks what my plans are for today? “I’m paralyzed…too many options…Bay View Jazz Fest, great music at Pride Fest, Brady Street Art Walk, big screen showing of Preakness Stakes horse race at Potawatomi Casino, Highland Games Scottish festival, Greek Festival at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, a reading / book signing of friend’s book on race relations at a library branch, and my all-time favorite activity…doing laundry.” She said, “Add the first Milwaukee Paranormal Conference to the list—I’m going after work.” If younger, I’d assume she ended her ‘I’m going after work’ with a dot-dot-dot ellipse. Instead, I walked out into the sunglass day.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Sunday, June 29, 2014
There’s an edge tonight. Some are on edge; some edgy. Everyone wants to be someplace, but a map and GPS can’t find someplace. Three show up at the jazz club who are the exception. They want to be here. The jazz club is the someplace they want to be. The middle-aged couple have brought her dad here to celebrate his 84th birthday. A good-looking white-hair gentleman….he enjoys the music. A trio of women enter all wary and on edge. They calm down at the bar. One of them keeps going outside, but not to smoke or chat on her cell. I wonder… Another of the trio steps up to me and asks in a demanding tone if a little man has entered the club. Not that I recall is what I say. She grimaces and returns to her stool at the bar. Moments later, a little man presents himself at the door. He is short, but too tall to be considered a little person or a race jockey. Yet, he’s too short to be any good at table tennis or waxing a SUV. Grimace lady rushes to me waving a five—the little man lucks out. Throughout the night, he stands behind the tables on the floor thoroughly enjoying the music. A highlight for both of us is the delicately-executed solo during the quintet’s version of Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.” The saxman sounds like he’s crocheting a lacy brocade doily for grandma’s mahogany side table. A refreshing, unexpected, and tasteful treatment from a tenor and quintet that prides itself in its hard-driving sound.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Calamity and lunacy could reign…it’s Friday the 13th and a full moon. Technically, we’re a couple of ticks beyond the official full moon night and as long as I keep thinking that today is merely the tomorrow of Thursday the 12th, everything should be fine. And a fine glittery night it is. To celebrate the impending season change, the Latin jazz band plays their version of Summertime, which sizzles in a pan of congas, guitar and deep bass played by the biggest brown bear found south of the Canadian border. The sauce is further stirred by a guest tenor whose horn adds just enough pepper. At one point, a few songs later after their frenzied take on Willie Bobo’s Haitian Lady, the band leader steps out from his drum set and in front of the congas to invite what appears to be a random, nondescript woman to the stage. “She will sing a beautiful song to us in Portuguese.” With every step to the stage she dramatically transforms into the likeness of the Lisbon-born stunner singer Teresa Salgueiro and her voice is equally beguiling. She caresses the quintet and transforms the club into Hot Clube de Portugal in a cellar in Praça da Alegria, one of the oldest jazz clubs in Europe, since 1948. Tele-transportation occurs and we’re in the dark, comfort of this Lisbon jazz club. The proof: left on the side of the congas was an old time travel decal—Portugal—just like the ones travellers in the last mid-century would affix to their hard-body luggage and travel wardrobes as souvenirs of their journeys. I’m convinced. We were there… if only for her smoldering sensuous song.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
There is gravity in the jazz club that pulls certain people to it on a regular basis. For The Doorman, these are the irregular regulars. There is no predicting exactly when they might show, but it will be sometime within a couple months to nine-month window. Cases in point from tonight’s crowd:
· Carrot Top – A jazz-loving young artist with a wild mop of red hair. She lives six miles from the club and arrives by bus, bicycle, motorcycle, or a recent acquisition… a 15-year-old beater pick up. If The Doorman wins the lottery, a contract with a limo service will be issued so any time she has a yearning to come to the club, she can call.
· Quiet Nerd Man – My mission is to break his code. He arrives, shoves a crumpled Lincoln in The Doorman’s hand, runs in and to the nearest bar stool, and turns chameleon by blending in as quickly as he can into the scene. He never looks anyone in the eyes—in fact, he may not have eyes, since I’m guessing no one has seen them. A social recluse who truly enjoys jazz.
· Big Foot – A mammoth man who literally fills the doorframe and then some. Fortunately for The Doorman and the jazz club he has a Big Guy gentle spirit. I know when I sense an overwhelming presence and look up and see an enormous brilliant-white toothy grin that my end could be near—Death By Hug. For some reason this sumo-wrestler-sized guy likes me.
The irregular regulars fit seamlessly into the jazz club’s mix. I added two young women who tentatively craned their necks from the door saying, “We’ve never been here before, it looks interesting.” I said, You’re not going to see much from there…come in and take a look. The quintet, plus a phenomenal guest harmonica player (who can harmonize with the horns and take a solo) were cooking on their version of the Eddie Harris and Les McCann song, Listen Here, when it became evident they were hooked. As they dig in their purses for the cover charge, I say: Not tonight…you’re special guests of The Doorman. At this exact moment in time, there is no better place in the universe than being here in this jazz club, hearing these incredible musicians, and seeing the genuine looks of surprise radiate into beautiful smiles.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
The jet-black-hair man with tattoo sleeves is here with a seductive, breasty friend. Four middle-aged men who have the wherewithal to afford what they want are at the door, they balk at paying the cover, pivot, and walk on. Good riddance cheapskates. The club owner chases them down, placates then with a twofer deal and seats them at the bar, next to sleeves and the stunner. I glare at them. The trio launches into a Miles Davis song after apologizing that the horn player is a no-show. Apologies not needed. The jazz club fills to a comfortable level, when it happens. A vaporous vision-ghost appears in the doorway. We are blessed with a visit from a jazz faerie. She enters all tall and willowy with a halo of light around her sweet face. I know and she knows I know that she doesn’t need to enter through the door. I stuff her five-dollar cover in a side pocket wondering if it may contain magic. She floats into the club and I don’t see her again until she leaves.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
To welcome the warm weather, the jazz club’s door is propped open when I arrive for the night. The place is empty, which always makes it a challenge at first. The initial couple or group to arrive tend to be naïve to life at night, so they’ll stand near the door inquisitive but fearful. It is so tempting to toy with them. Some night I’ll laugh maniacally and holler to the bartender, “LOOK HERE…OUR FIRST CUSTOMERS IN WEEKS!!” But not tonight. The club starts filling with its wonderful mix of humanity….ahhh jazz…. how it harmonizes the disparate. The quintet was into its Latin version of Mile’s All Blues when I noticed a young couple walk past the front door and warily cock their ears for a listen. With the authority vested in me by the club owner and using my Royal Academy of Doormen training, I motion them to me with a sense of command. They both have tattoo sleeves and notable piercings—she has a septum piercing, he has ear lobe plugs. I say, “Welcome….stop hesitating, you belong here.” They stammer a bit and make motions for their wallets. “Aheh, not tonight…you’re guests of The Doorman, come on in.” From the moment they enter until they leave hours later they are perched on the edge of their barstools enraptured. Live jazz has them captivated. I feel good that I read them accurately: They do belong here.