Fiction for a Jazz Horn: Or, Why You Don’t Have to Date Anymore Even When You Really Really Want to

I recently discovered a new way of listening to Jazz music. I am calling it “Festival of Leaf-blowers” or else more simply, and for lack of a more evocative moniker on hand, “Jazz Con-Fusion.” The new way of listening to Jazz music involves a highly improvised mixture of loneliness, a muted sense of irretrievable loss, and a paralyzing fear of the sound of one’s own voice – the latter constituting a kind of Chlamydia of the larynx, self-contracted. I might have called the new way of listening to Jazz music “Chlamydea of the Larynx” but frankly, I have only just thought of this phrase and in any case, I clearly don’t have the slightest idea how to spell the word “Chlaw-Medea,” let alone how to describe the condition aloud in a way others would possibly understand. As things stand, I intend to reserve this tasty neologism for the title of my future memoirs. First though, I should like very much to do something worthy of writing them. Which brings me back to my discovery of the new way of listening to jazz music that I would like to offer now for your own personal edification.

In order to affect the new way of listening to jazz music, here is what you do:

1) Set your radio to a moderate volume.

2) Lock it up in the darkest recesses of your bedroom. Ideally, this step should be performed with little or no antennae signal, so that the radio’s sole nourishment may be derived from a ravenous army of dust mites – plentiful in that region of the house, along with a not unreasonable sense of its own permanent static and a stray pack of six-month old sugarless mints that may as well come from another century.

3) Ignore the fact that old radios like yours get along none too well with either dust mites or breath-enhancing tablets of any kind; disregard the smattering of cobwebs climbing the walls around the poor and unsuspecting radio; the cobwebs that lay bare the ideological function of absolute and total abandonment.

4) Ensconce yourself comfortably in the kitchen. This is not a metaphor; the kitchen is truly the only place in the house you can hear or imagine you can hear the muffled cries of a captive trumpet coming from the bedroom.

5) Attend to the way this captive trumpet not only heralds in the triumphant new way of listening to jazz music but at the same time competes with all the other discordant noises that typically predominate your apartment complex – the steady hum of the laundry machine, for instance, the garbage truck that slides murderously through the alleyway at all hours, like a herd of angry elephants. Yes, the trumpet competes with all this, you may tell yourself in vain; its plaintive notes soar and synthesize and triumph, the lost key to the whole lousy coda.           

 6) You should hardly hear any longer the hateful baying of the dog that forever lurks outside your bedroom window like an enemy – or an emissary, depending on your mood and what the dog had for its last meal – of Whimsy. Nor should you mind any longer the trying voice of your four-year old neighbor Alyssa, who used to sound sweet and adorable back when her face was poreless as an eggshell that was about to give birth to a truffle; but alas, that egg has long since hatched and she has begun to issue terrible imprecations from across the courtyard, with the voice of a foghorn on the face of a sledgehammer.

7) All of this changes under the spell of the new way of listening to jazz music; and as you listen to the notes unfolding from the bedroom – much in the way each of us wishes that time, our thoughts, and our dreams would do – you should try to perceive the slow and silent metamorphoses taking place around you; the moment when one thing slips easily into another, turning like a door on its hinges in a silence that is more deepened than broken; a moment when another world seems almost to appear, like a crescendo trapped in the middle of a scream.

It is in this way you may learn to keep something beautiful locked away in your bedroom without ever actually having to touch it.

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