Changes take place in my neighborhood in small increments these days. We wake to another house starting repairs or to another being finished --- and still a few lay dormant. The kudzu and politicians ruin one thing after another, and without a glance, the people begin each day rebuilding the city....and dream that their Saints will end up in a Super Bowl.
"Good morning, Mr. David. Good morning, Miss Patti." Our neighbors wake each day, greet each other, and go about their business of living.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time...
Quiet and small, yet we begin to think that the humanity in our broken sidewalks represents more than most other streets in America.
New Orleans is a poor city, yet incredibly ethnocentric. This self-absorption becomes highlighted when our musicians show their brilliance, and New Orleans becomes the center of the universe. It may last for just a set, yet for ninety minutes something awe inspiring, fantastically beautiful takes place that transcends the ordinary and puts you light years above any skyscraper on the planet.
Roberto Carcasses is from Havana and the son of another jazz great, Bobby Carcasses. He is relatively unique, able to travel around the world whenever he is asked to perform --- from Barcelona to Tokyo. He made his first visit to New Orleans this week and I had the miraculous pleasure of interviewing him at WWOZ on Thursday. Kind, humble and insightful, it was a wonderfully long interview because of his generous mind and tremendous knowledge of Latin and American music. The conversation ranged from jazz in Cuban public schools to the democracy that is jazz. We talked about his show, Cuba NOLA and Ariana Hall (who are responsible for him coming to New Orleans), and also about Ricky Sebastian (drums) and David Pulphus (bass)) who would "share" his music. Finally he spoke of "Interactivo" --- the loosely affiliated group of brilliant Cuban musicians that come together and create some of the most innovative jazz tunes in the world.
Friday night we went to hear him at Snug Harbor, and I do not have the words to convey the sheer beauty and splendiferous jazz we heard that night. I found myself often crying spontaneously simply because of the joy of the creative moment and the magnificent sounds.
As we arrived home, some neighbor's across the street returning from their own short vacation waived and welcomed us back to the Crescent City....and at the same time, my mind was on Havana and it's broken sidewalks, and its many many musicians who have not been able to travel like Roberto Carcasses --- and how much, we in our little self-important corner of the world, are missing each day because of the stubbornness and stupidity of our species.
New Orleans is not the center of the universe. Every place is.
Jelly Roll Justice