Thursday, November 25, 2010

SOFT JAZZ

For a Wednesday afternoon, 100% Barbershop was unusually crowded. Three customers waited on Cory the barber. Dana worked on his tenth head. Kenneth, the new staff barber, swept up hair around his barber’s chair into a black dustpan. Two customers played dominoes waiting for Wes. He'd gone to lunch minutes before they arrived. Be bop, Cory’s 12-year-old daughter set in KB’s, the shop owner, workstation reading the liner notes to guitarist Kevin Eubanks new album Zen Food. KB watched NBA highlights on Sport Center on the flat screen television mounted to the wall by the shoes shine booth. I spoke to Be bop. Then I removed my black leather bomber jacket. I stuffed my wool pageboy cap into the right jacket pocket, and I hung it on the coat rack. After KB and I shook hands, I flopped down in the barber chair. He wrapped a black cape that had a pair of gold scissors embroidered on it around my neck, and pumped up the chair with his left foot. I instructed him to trim down my hair. Then I asked Be bop if she liked Eubanks’ new album.
“He’s cute,” Be bop said.
“You bought the album because he’s cute”?
“Dad gave it to me.”
“Does he like the album”?
“Dad said the music sounds like the soundtrack for a cartoon series,” Be Bop said.
“He can be hard on musicians he dislike,” I said. I heard KB turn on his clippers.
“Dad likes Mr. Eubanks other albums. Dad just hates this one. I told dad he should give it another chance because there’re some really good songs s on the album like The Dirty Monk Café, Adoration and G.G,” Be bop said. She passed me the cd case.
“It’s a good album.”
“Dad said all those years Mr. Eubanks spent playing on the Tonight Show made him soft”.
“I disagree with that.”
“I do, too.”
“The kind of soft jazz he plays is pretty good.”
“That’s a good name for it, soft jazz”.
“What do you like about Zen Food”?
“Besides Mr. Eubanks being really cute, each song made me feel different. On the last track Das It, Mr. Eubanks sounded like he was playing with four hands instead of two, and the way he horsed around with drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith like kids after school was cool. The other thing is Mr. Eubanks on fast tempo songs plays a lot of notes like a rock guitar player. That was cool, too. He’s not a slave to conventional jazz licks. He can excite you and make you sad in the same breath. Naming the album Zen Food, I thought it was going to be really weird and deep like the kind of avant-garde junk my dad has been listening to lately where the musicians almost sound like they don’t know how to play their instruments. But Mr. Eubanks’ album is really understandable and really fun to listen too,” Inez said.
KB said Be bop was destine to be a music critic one of these days. I countered that she was already a music critic. Cory the barber walked into KB’s workstation.
“Bop, are these unsophisticated old farts bothering you,” Cory asked his daughter after he shook my hand.
“Bop can handle herself. She’s back here schooling us about music,” KB said.
Cory told Be bop he had one more customer. Then he’d take her to get something to eat if she was hungry. Bop said she’d wait because she was having fun schooling us.
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