bird on a wire: on Lionel Loueke and art
Have you ever seen that one bird up on a hot wire? He smiles and nods his head, and you’ve not a guess at what he’s feeling in his feet. If other birds land nearby, they tip a feather, like – yeah, man, I know what you’re saying – but they don’t.
Who knows the pleasure a bird feels clinched to the clicks and pops we pull through the lines? No one knows, but we still agree with the pleasure.
The night I saw The Lionel Loueke Trio, he was a bird smiling, tapping is feet like all he faced was the wind. He was humbly pleased at what jazz could do.
We were murmuring in our seats, had had a good dinner, expected nothing of birds or Africa or spirit fire, and when his mouth touched the microphone, I froze. I didn’t want to move a muscle, like I had just walked into someone in a secret place, and I was enjoying the faces one was making to God.
I held my breath. I used a beverage napkin for the corner of my eye.
I do not choose to listen to jazz at home. I’m usually more granola/grungy than that, but we had to hear it again. So we bought it and brought it home.
Saturday was so vibrant that blue pulled in through the screens. It was breezy and warm, and we played it. We played Lionel Loueke in the hallway, and it was loud.
My 1 yo Baby Ian stopped where he was with his first impression, and then he bent up and down and up and down, and he shook his head, not to say No but to say Yes; he agreed with the music.
I was dancing in the hall, and there was no yesterday and no old self – only the present two of us dancing and smiling, we on our own wires. Then Ian stopped and walked to the stereo on the tallboy and reached up to it. He made the gimme hands and arms and sounds and wanted to hold it, and I love that we can’t hold it. I whirled him up onto my swaying motherhip, and we laughed.
So much good in this life, if we can hold it (bear it, even, within our frames) wisps away as fast as it came, and that is where art is born, when we take its picture and write it down, where the jazz comes in and gives the unnamable moments a sound, an imprint, another sense with which to remember.