Mary Elizabeth Leach Raines

Mary Elizabeth Leach Raines
The Laughing Cherub

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


So today I went to a fabulous jazz concert. 
Granted, the small audience was mostly over 70. 
Granted, they acted super-white, sitting rigidly upright without the least bit of head bobbing or shoulder swaying, and that even included the two black guys in the audience. 
Despite this setting, the trio put their hearts and souls into the music, and man, were they world-class performers!

Now, it is humanly impossible for me to sit still when there is good music, especially jazz, so I am sitting in the back row, swaying back and forth and bobbing my head like crazy, grooving to the music. (Do people still say “grooving”? Is that allowed?)

The songs this trio played penetrated right to my core. Hey, how can you go wrong when you have three straight guys who obviously love show tunes?! Because jazz consists mostly of show tunes, you know.

The pianist was enormous! Usually smaller pianists make up for it by playing with exceptional skill, but this particular pianist was both huge and skilled. At the other end of the stage was a cutie-pie drummer who kept up a pounding mounting rhythm.

Rounding out the trio was my favorite, the bass player. He seemed nondescript at first…until he hunched over his bass fiddle, embracing it, his eyes closed in the passion of the moment. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be that bass, and I must say I began to breathe just a little more quickly as I watched him move over it with his strong, supple fingers that knew exactly where to go--teasing here, lingering down deep there. He even pulled out his bow for long penetrating strokes in perfect driving rhythm when they played that great jazz standard, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.

Here’s the catch. This concert was held in a small church. Directly above my scrumptious bass player hung a life-sized Jesus. On the cross. He looked really sad. Still, his crucified arms had the index and middle fingers extended, and if one squinted their eyes just so, it almost looked as though Jesus was snapping his fingers along to the music. I wondered what he would say if he could talk. Probably, “Hey, man, the music’s cool. Now, would someone please take me down from here?”

They served coffee and chocolates at intermission, which was fine, but I felt a little peculiar listening to such hot, heavy music on a hard wooden church bench. I thought that it would be nicer and more fitting to have some wine. Wondering how that could come about, I began to fantasize that they would serve us communion. It being a church and all. Yes, the glasses would be very small, but it was an Episcopal church, so at least they might conceivably give us real wine instead of the Welch’s grape juice you’d get in a Methodist church.

We didn’t receive communion, though.

Back to the song, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most: I was looking at Jesus when they played it, and wondered if that the tune was a little rude to play right under his nose. Considering, you know, what happened to him in the spring. Or perhaps it was weirdly appropriate. I wonder...what would Jesus think?

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