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A Farewell To Time

(Spruill's, north St. Louis)

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Everybody here looks cool. Jazz-cool: sharp and stylish with tempered extravagance. Most of the men wear hats; from where I stand, the musicians appear surrounded by a garden of fedoras, panamas and porkpies. There's a pleasant grittiness to the place. A slightly nostalgic aura, like out of a 1950s jazz joint.

The four-piece flows seamlessly from straight-ahead jazz to something darker and moodier, then finally to funk, then back again. Greg says he hears a little Sonny Rollins in the sax player's style. Says he's a local legend: Willie Akins.

A trombone player joins the band for a number. At first I think the tune is "Summertime." Greg thinks it's "Cristo Redentor."

I fall into a meditative trance. Sometimes jazz does that to me, takes me for a ride as each musician solos, thinking about everything and nothing simultaneously. Suddenly I understand Zen koans, observe subtle auras. I can consider the remarkable absurdity of things, can see them as very natural and inevitable and quite effortless to accept. Life itself flows through me with the music, washes out the garbage. Goodbyes become easy -- goodbyes to things that don't matter, goodbyes to things that are dead, goodbyes to useless information. A farewell to Time, even, finding sanctuary in the surreality of the present.

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