The Memory of Sound: Jazzy 1959


Bobby Sox, Bobby Darin, Bubble Gum. Mack the Knife, full of life, having Fun. 1959. I had no idea what was on the horizon. Imagine the pure joy of my discovery of Erroll Louis Garner playing on the phonograph. At the time, I didn’t understand the jewel of jazz that I had discovered.

You see, I was about nine years old, fresh up from the south after being reunited with my mom when the gift of jazz was given to me quite accidentally. Mother was what is now termed in some circles a “domestic”. She cleaned houses for a living in the 1950’s and sometimes would take me with her, which is where I made my discovery.

At the time that we were delegated to the back of the bus I sat in the front row of my imaginary jazz concert, reveling at the sounds emanating from the beautiful piano dominating the space in my mind that had me totally consumed. If called to describe my mental acuity, one might say I was experiencing a kaleidoscope of colors that took me to a place I rarely wanted to leave. But leave I did when the reality of life presented itself.

Mother had given me the chore of dusting the living room while she proceeded to take to task other duties only she could handle. As I dusted, I read whatever lay about until I came upon this instrument I had never seen before. It was sitting on a table next to the piano with a vinyl record inserted in the middle of it. Before I knew what hit me as I lifted the needle and placed it on the record I became transfixed (for lack of a better term) at the circular motion of the album as it played.

How did I know how the phonograph worked? I don’t think I had ever seen one before, but nevertheless there I was listening as the fingers of the artist worked its magic. What I know now that I did not know then is the sheer melody of the music had somewhat of a healing balm for my soul.

Over the years I have come to appreciate many genres of music but Jazz still remains at the top as my all-time favorite.

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