Move your mouse over here!
Previous page

Brass to Mouth

Brass to mouth, it's time for Cliff to serenade, to make strangers appreciate the lungs' capacity to coordinate an eager hand, mouth, and mind. He plays. It's the music of an older generation, one neglected since the invasion of a British persuasion. Its pioneers - Armstrong, Brown, Mingus, and Roach - left behind like crummy copper coins, worth too little to cling to, or to value; so they multiply in Cliff's trumpet case, its back broken and misshapen, the result of years spent in the bliss of selfish self-indulgence, cradling the object of Cliff's adoration, his arrogance, his addiction. And so he plays "standards," as they're called, but no one recalls the melodic hypnosis of a former generation, a mnemonic representation of their culture and style.

So, he sweats, shakes, and cannot concentrate; it's an itch needing a scratch, an addiction eating away his ability to rationally judge what is right, and what is wrong. But this, ladies and gentlemen, he knows for sure. The day his beloved music's buried firmly in the ground; the day the final bit of dirt slides from that shovel; his addiction will have trouble eking out a living, or at least one honest and true. And he'll then consult his old pistol, the one tucked away and out of sight. But for now, with brass to mouth, Cliff's playing still, serenading the crowd like a final nail in the coffin of jazz.

Story by:

P. Keith Boran

pkboran@olemiss.edu

submitted at 5:07am

14 July 2011