When was the last time you felt that you could not even register what’s happening to you?
I must have been 12 or so when I learned about the difference between woodwind instruments and brass instruments in music class. I remembered the difference as knowledge then just to pass the test. In my late teen, this sound hit me like a ton of bricks. In the middle of this vinyl shop in Shinjuku, Tokyo, my body froze and I could not move. It was sweet, warm and lovely sound of clarinet. I remembered about the music class all of a sudden. Clarinet is woodwind instrument and this is why the song sounded so tender to my ears. My heart started pounds fast and my throat tightened up. I was trying very hard not to burst into tears. It was just like love at first sight. After the song ended, I run to the store sales person and asked who it was. He told me it was Artie Shaw. I grabbed a couple of his record and went home. I listened, listened, listened, listened, listened and listened to his record. And listened. As soon as I dropped a phonograph needle on his record, his music would transport me to a jazz club in Chicago or New York (depending on songs). I would be wearing this Gatsby-esque dress, small hat, and smoking a very skinny cigarette. I thought I could hear people chattering, foot taping on the wood floor, cocktail glasses clinking. I wanted to be inside of his records. And I still do.
I started to listen to other clarinetists (what a great word. clarinetist) and enjoyed them all, however to me, no one could replace Artie Shaw (what a wonderful name…Artie Shaw). Tender, beautiful, humorous, quiet, playful, classy, sexy, introverted and romantic sound of clarinet.
Side note. He must have had a great ear because he hired Billie Holiday (my hero) to sing with his band. The world’s tightest pair in the music history. Thanks to my music teacher to make me realize this not-so-flashy woodwind instrument could turn my world upside down.