As an ersatz jazz journalist, I have two people that I hold in the highest possible esteem. One is Ornette Coleman — the most outrageously original musician of the last 50 years. The other is Gary Giddins — for 30 years the jazz columnist in the Village Voice, and the most authoritative and eloquent writer about jazz that I've ever encountered. Last weekend I got to share an evening with both.
Zingzing and I have been IMing just about every day for a while now, and talking about our respective musical interests - modern classical for him, jazz for me. He was quite taken with the LaMonte Yong installation he blogged about not long ago, and I, of course, was as besotted with the music of Coleman as ever — and still finding new things in it to love. Because Zingzing and I both live in major cities with important performance venues — the kind often frequented by big-name musicians of all stripes — he and I made an agreement: the next time Ornette Coleman was playing someplace we could both get to, we'd both go.
So, it was a thrill to open my inbox not long ago and discover an announcement that Coleman was playing at Town Hall, that historic Times Square venue where so much jazz history has occurred, on March 28. I got the e-mail about an hour before Zingzing logged onto IM, and I practically danced in my seat (as though I was a four-year-old who had to pee) waiting for him to get in. The moment I heard that log-on chime, I minimized all my work stuff and messaged him:
"Remember what we were saying about how we'd go see Ornette together whenever we had the chance? Well, if you have any plans on March 28, cancel them. He's at Town Hall on 43rd Street."
Zingzing understood immediately. His question: "What time?"
This is a good six weeks in advance of the concert. Nonetheless, by the end of that week, we'd solidified a schedule. On the day that tickets went on sale, he would go to the box office on his lunch hour. I would mail him a check in advance, as would another friend who would fly up from South Carolina. We'd meet at Zingzing's office, take the train down to Times Square, and would see Ornette. I knew what train to get on, what time I needed to be there to see the show, and not long afterwards had booked bus fare.