Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturdays with.

Michael Franks once made a music album entirely dedicated to the late Antonio Carlos Jobim. A beautiful album titled “abandoned garden”, which tells the story of a lovely garden filled with fragrant blossoms and tender shrubs delicately mourning the absence of their gardener.

This is no story of death, but in a way I wish I had the talent to express how much I miss my piano teacher, who has been sick now for many months. I would usually drive to his home on Saturday mornings with a bebop tune playing, because I used to believe that if I got the tune in my head it would make up for my lack of practice. I would sheepishly say to him that I haven’t practiced, and he would laugh me off, shove me some cookies, and after a little chat we would play.

And as we play, him on the right piano, me on the left one, my worries would drop off me one by one, little specks of dust suddenly unsure of their place on my mind. He would rock his head and I would sway my shoulders, we would talk like that, converse, without saying a word. In between songs he would tell me stories of how jazz is like life, like everything you will ever encounter in life. The science, the emotions, and most importantly, the journey one must take to find their own original melodies.

I remember coming to see him one day, after his wife died of cancer. We sat down on our respective piano seats in that little room with bright coloured walls and a clutter of memorabilia on the shelves and sunlight streaming in through the window, muted by a strange sadness in the air. But he wanted to play solo. He played “The Nearness of You”. He played with his head tilted back and his eyes closed, and as I watched him my eyes welled up because that day the usually pretty song was of sorrow. I never really forgot the way he played that day.

I think, although I’m not sure, that his health slowly deteriorated since then. And I’ve been so busy I must have skipped his classes dozens of times. And now he’s in no condition to teach. In my mind I had a lifetime of Saturday jam sessions with him. In my mind, I still do.

I hope he gets well soon, and tends to his garden again.

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