People who know me will tell you I always have jazz on the brain. Guilty as charged. Recently, scientists studied improvising musicians, hoping to unlock the underlying neurological functions of high and low level musical improvisation. A summation of the study is here.
Turns out all you have to do is turn off your prefrontal cortex (can an Idiot's Guide to Turning Off Your Prefrontal Cortex be far behind?).
This study reminds me of a conversation I had with the New Orleans writer, performer, and creator Kalamu Ya Salaam. One night on Rampart Street, at a club called The Funky Butt, I watched in awe as Kalamu performed an original poem in a style similar to the way that pianist Cecil Taylor played his music. Kalamu and I worked together at WWOZ in New Orleans. One night, during his Thursday evening Kitchen Sink show, I asked him how he could do such things.
He said, "There's an invisible button located on your forehead. It controls the part of your brain that says you cannot do something. Turn it off."
I rarely work the morning shift around here. 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. newscasts are Doug Doyle territory and for good reason. It takes a special man to get up at 3:30 a.m. and get here in time to deliver the news at 6 a.m., sharp. Frankly, I ain't that special, man. Those of you who've heard me at that time in the morning, know what I'm talking about.Still, when Doug's out, I get the call. One recent morning, however, I was sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor, the written word failing me, when all of a sudden, dripping from the speakers behind me, like honey on a nubile neck, comes Eliane Elias singing Jobim's "Photograph (Fotografia)."
The vocal, so lush and silken, insinuated itself into my soft gray matter and swirled around like the café in my café con leche. I closed my eyes and drank deeply, Eliane inside my brain. MMM. It's just about the only thing that went right that morning.
Eliane Elias is just smooth, man, (as both a singer and a pianist) so if you get a chance, I urge you to join us (yes, I'll be there) tomorrow at J&R Music's Park Row store (23 Park Row, NYC, Second Floor) for a FREE live performance and broadcast of some of the material from her new release "Something For You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans."
The performance starts at 4 p.m. and, even if you're in Rio, Brasil, you can hear it live. - David Cruz