Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Hank, As I Like to Call Him"

Sous Rature and I grew up with the piano player on this album. He's easily one of the most interesting cats either one of us have ever known. I had a chance encounter with him after 9/11 where he was his typical low key self. He hadn't mentioned this album, just that he had strained his hands while playing in New York because the session musicians where giving him a hard time for playing 'too white.' While his injuries healed he did some freelance work in what I believe was international banking (his degree from UC Berkeley, making him one of the only musicians I've known whose 'back up' was really just a back up.) His work at the time had him working at the World Trade Center, just not that day. When I saw him he told me in his usual deadpan manner, "New York is trying to kill me, I'm coming back to California."

I remember forming various jazz groups with him in high school when we both had the dream of being cool, kick ass jazz musicians. During a rehersal for a graduation concert he showed me a biography about Henry Mancini he was reading, or "Hank, as I like to call him." Again, in his total deadpan with only the slightest hint of wry smile.

His playing has the same kind of subtlty. I haven't heard this album yet, literally seconds ago Sous Rature told me about it, but I'm guessing that that's what you'll find here. My only regret is that I was living in the East Bay when this was recorded, I would have loved to see this live.

Of the group of us in high school, there are only two of us left to not live up to our expectations.

I better get to work.


  1. Walrus is a little hard on himself here, but I think it's productive. There seems to be a general undercurrent of existential crisis lately, and this general dissatisfaction will, I hope, lead to bigger and better things for everyone.

    He is dead on the money about our friend--he was (and presumably still is) calm to the point of uncanny, but insightful and very funny. I hope that he's doing well, and that we're all destined to be cool enough for each other's company.

  2. It's early mid-life crisis. I'm heading for 39 this year, which means I have (unless I publish a book this year pleasepleasepleaseplease) only two more shots at the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. I'm appreciative that Yale considers anyone under 40 "younger," but it doesn't mollify the feeling of not getting enough done when you see friends who are considerably younger than you are with multiple books out.

    I take solace in the fact that I have a job, while they're still pursuing PhD's in Creative Writing.