You didn’t have to be psychic to know what was coming from CNN’s Trump Town Hall event. Still, it was worse than I could have imagined. One forgets how vile and lunatic the former president is.
I found myself in a deep depression on Thursday, realizing what a chokehold he has on a large number of those living in what I used to call home. Trump shows nothing but anger, defiance, and the will to inflict his madness on everybody.
I wanted to write about all this and scoured the internet for some thoughts that might be a little different from what other struggling scribblers came up with. A futile search so I fell back on music to get rid of the blues, a process I’ve written about before.
A good friend had just broken up her CD collection and given me several discs, among which were three albums of Shirley Horn’s music. I’ve been a fan of hers for many years. Before she left us in 2005 she was a unique vocalist-cum-pianist who had a following of many jazz musicians and a growing public.
I got to know about Shirley through Rusty Hassan, a DJ and jazz fanatic whom I hung out with in Washington, DC. (Rusty wrote a fine essay on Shirley, his DC friend and neighbor, plus her involvement in the local music scene. It’s in a booklet that accompanies Shirley Horn: Live at the 4 Queens, a 1988 set that captures the way she sounded in a typical club date.)
She was a regular at One Step Down, that great small Washington club no longer there. One evening my wife Jane and I went to see her on a New Year’s Eve in the ’90s. We were given seats at the piano bar right in front of Shirley for two sets. Celebrated by many, including Miles Davis, this diminutive person in white gloves sang and played piano like no one else, accompanied as she was for many years by bassist Charles Ables and drummer Steve Williams. Here’s what she sounded like:
Her music gets under your skin because Shirley is such an impeccable performer. No one has ever sung these songs with such quiet authority and good taste. Most of her tunes also represent a perfect marriage of music and lyrics. Here she is with Buck Hill (tenor sax) performing one of the more upbeat standards that she liked:
Shirley was a singer with a perfect palate and execution, a master of space and silences. She was finally honored in 2004 with a Jazz Master award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her artistry got me out a bad funk on Thursday, and she’ll do that again, I trust.