If you were able to see me tonight between 7:00 and 9:00, you probably observed me with the biggest smile that's crossed my face in a long, long time.
A couple months ago, I saw posters for tonight's concert at the Aronoff Center by Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. I quickly bought tickets, put them in a safe place when they arrived by mail, and promptly forgot about them. Then, sometime around Tuesday or Wednesday this week, I remembered the concert.
I spent the rest of the week tingling with excitement.
I grew up a band geek--in particular, a trumpet player. I idolized Wynton Marsalis. I've listened to Wynton's recordings so often, I can actually tell, within a few seconds of the beginning of a song, when it's him on the trumpet. During high school, during those interminable, boring classes when other guys would tune out the teacher and daydream about the opposite sex, I would . . . well, okay, I would daydream about the opposite sex, too. But while I was doing it, I would try to perfect the technique of circular breathing, which Wynton had mastered and then discussed during an interview I read. I never quite got it.
I've only been privileged to see Wynton play live once before (at a free concert at Battery Park on Independence Day, 2002). Getting to see him tonight was phenomenal. I don't think there is a bad seat at the Aronoff, but mine was particularly good: center orchestra, row N. Wynton and the Orchestra played a variety of songs, reachinig back for tunes by Ellington and Coltrane and forward to songs Wynton composed himself. I'm sure the Enquirer or CityBeat or both will print a review. I'm not a critic and won't pretend to be; I'm just a fan, and I wasn't disappointed. But the concert will be something to tell my putative kids about. Wynton Marsalis is, perhaps, the single most signficant living American musician.
There were an awful lot of "who's who" types at the Aronoff. Lots of local politicians and judges. The one who caught my eye--the one that will always catch my eye when I'm fortunate enough to be in the same room--was retired Sixth Circuit Judge Nathaniel R. Jones. As much as Wynton was a hero to me in my childhood, Judge Jones is one now that I'm an adult. I was saddened when he left the bench at the same time I graduated law school. It's been my honor to actually meet him and shake his hand a couple times at various lawyer-filled gatherings (though not tonight). I'm not sure that enough people realize that we have a hero of the Civil Rights movement living in our midst.
What a great night.