Finding the Soundtrack of Jaleel Shaw

Jaleel Shaw's MasterpieceI live vicariously through Jaleel Shaw.

Before I fell completely into the pool of being an author, for a time I dipped my toe in jazz.

I don’t know why I was so drawn to playing saxophone, but there was something that took my breath away immediately with it (not always a good thing to have happen while playing a reed instrument, by the way). A sax can convey so much, with the power to move you to tears or to get you to your feet to cheer. Two things I have seen happen live, but honestly never when I was performing.

For almost a decade it was an obsession, and not an evening would go by when I wasn’t at a lesson, taking part in a rehearsal, or practicing up in my bedroom. Because, I believed, with enough practice, yes, I could sound like Charlie Parker.

It was a happy dream, and I felt like I was doing something important while under it.

Looking back now, I can almost laugh at my passion around it, but for years, I would fall asleep each night with Bird and Branford Marsalis playing on repeat on my CD player; certain I could get their chops through a form of musical osmosis. Continue reading

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My Online Literary Experiment: Be John Coltrane

One of my favoritesSince I started my online literary experiment, Permanent Spring Showers, a novel written off-the-cuff, with a new chapter each week, I’ve had quite a few writers ask me about the experience.

Some seem to have a dark fascination, much like a driver passing by an accident on the road, while others seem to be excited by the prospect, wondering if they will risk attempting the experience themselves.

If you have been following these occasional editorials I  have created around the experience… well.. you can tell it is kind of emotional with a lot of highs and lows. Basically, the best way to explain what it does to your nerves is what you experience while writing a book but heightened a great deal and rushed, since there is always the pressure to make it work and you can’t go back. Because it has to work, and if one chapter falters I have no excuse but to continue. So somedays I think I am the biggest idiot in the world, while on others I would kiss a mirror of myself. (Actually, I’ve been known to go through those feelings in the same hour of working!)

This Friday, I am sharing the last chapter (which is in a first draft form now) and I am now, finally, more in a position  to look back over the experience and feel out how it worked for me… and one word comes forward more than any other:

Jazz Continue reading