Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jazz and Jizz

Jazz Tival 2011 happened in Morelia late last week, and I joined friends for the closing concert by Bobby Watson.

Here's a little known secret about me: I took 27 credits of African-American music at the University of Minnesota in the 70s. My life was greatly influenced by professors Geneva H. Southall and Reginald T. Buckner. Another teacher at that time was Percy Hughes, my mail carrier and very gifted saxophonist, who knocked on my door one day to ask why I, a white girl, was listening to all those spirituals and Kansas City swing (answer: homework assignment). Of course, I should also mention my father, George Birkett, who played trombone at Precidio. By listening to his extensive jazz record collection, my appreciation of jazz was launched.

Bobby Watson has quite a history. He's a saxophonist, composer, producer, and educator. Oh, let's not forget his association with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. (Here's another secret about me: I spent an afternoon at Horace Silver's home where he fed me and a friend tuna fish on melba toast and played the piano for several hours. But, that's another story.)

Saturday was a lovely, warm evening, and the concert was held in the courtyard of the Casa de Cultura. Several thousand people were in the crowd. The musicians came on stage, the music started, and, lo and behold, fireworks burst overhead. It just doesn't get much better than this.

Except that I caught sight of a bird flying over the domed building.

That's where 'jizz' comes into the picture. In a split second or two, I knew it was an owl. My mind very rapidly went from pigeon to owl, ruling out nighthawk along the way.

Jizz - what is it? To me, it's the overall impression of a bird. That impression runs the gamut of shape, posture, flight style, size, color, location, habitat, time of day, etc. And that summation of information helps narrow my options, especially when I get only a brief glimpse of a night. Based on what I saw, I could conclude that I saw an owl; I couldn't tell you what genus (although I highly suspect it was a barn owl).

Jazz and Jizz - what a combination of two loves of my life. What a night it was.