So I’m in this jazz club when the couple a few stools away catches my attention. A Tony Soprano look alike, the man is 40ish, dressed all in black, and has tamed his few black hairs straight back with Grecian formula. To his credit, he is more muscular than Tony Soprano and his too-tight shirt accents his physique. His companion, a twenty-something woman poured herself into the champagne flute of a dress. Appropriately, she is somewhat bubbly.
The girl says, “That drummer is amazing!” It’s true, the drummer was incredible. I thought he was blind at first because he had his eyes closed and his head turned toward the side. The rhythm came from inside him and he instinctively knew what to do
“I don’t give a damn about the drummer! The sax player is great!” Tony Soprano snaps.
The bartender comments, “Newlyweds, huh?” The woman bristles at this and mumbles something about them not being married and then says something inaudible to defend her original statement.
The man says in a much too loud voice, “Who’s in the front? That’s the guy that’s important. The drummer’s in the back.”
I try to catch the woman’s eye but she disappears up to her room, humiliated, I imagine.
What I want to say to her is that the drummer is the “power bottom” in the relationship. The drummer controls everything. The rest of the band has to follow his tempo, not the other way around. When it’s all said and done, the sax player is left holding his dripping little horn but the drummer is still thumping. With a cadence like the heartbeat of mother earth that we all feel and follow, align ourselves with. The saxes of the world, if they are smart, follow the beat and not try to create their own.
In music, there must be a beat, a tempo, a rhythm. There need not be a harmony or a melody, but there must be a beat. Even the solo sax players on the streets of New Orleans follow a beat. They carry the beat of all the drummers.
The drummer is okay being in the back. He knows what the deal is. I wish I could say the same for the girl in the fluted dress.