Tuesday, March 27, 2007

building a kingdom

yes, the scars still show
remnants of brutal crushing of ideals
of faith that words reflected the heart of its utterers

years past and present
collide in a sea of well-meaning, yet shattered promises
brushing over a willing servant for flashier, needier souls

but the call must be solitary
before it can ever be for all... corporately
to lead, one must act in the middle of a sea of rejection

to forgive... the path of freedom
to create what was lacking before
making space for those who want just what you could not find

the ever-present wounds are watered
by the few who at core remain true
who dream big but take the small steps we frail humans must take


to reach a land bigger than we can realize alone

Currently Listening to:The Milk-Eyed Mender - By Joanna Newsom

Thursday, March 15, 2007

making room for vastly great

"naked and on my knees
years of good enough were callously stripped away
an angel took mercy and held my hand
fear not my love
good was merely insulating you... from vastly great."

- Kristen Jongen

Stripping down to make way for the great is hellish agony... yet I cannot go back to compromise, even for good things, anymore. It is like being unfaithful to do the things 'of old'; tormenting me so that I cannot go back to what once comforted, desperately as I want to retreat oft times.

I can only plunge ahead into unchartered territory, unsure where it will lead but knowing that I must leap if I am ever to fly.

Currently reading : The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything By Brian McLaren

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Paula West at the Plush Room

Every year I look forward to Paula West's month at the Plush Room. My favorite jazz singer to hear live... and a Bay Area local... it's a magical experience every time - and I've seen her once, if not twice a year for six years. Her voice may not be an Ella or Billie or Sarah (who is these days, really?), but it is well crafted, honed and robust. Her articulation and craft is immaculate... and her song selection unbeatable.

That's my favorite part about the whole thing: waiting to see what she will sing next. Other than her infamous, "The Snake", her encore for every performance (sometimes accompanied by "The Ides of March", which both she & Jane Monheit seem to be known for singing), her song list is different every year. Never the same songs twice.

Variety is the spice of life for me... and, so it seems, for her. She'll sing the classic jazz standards, occasionally well known, often obscure, but she'll surprise by throwing in a Bob Dylan ("Mr. Tambourine Man"), Johnny Cash ("I Walk the Line"), Hank Williams ("Honky Tonkin") tune. Or an Irish ditty ("The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond"). Or songs from a Broadway musical ("Trouble" from "The Music Man", "I Have Dreamed" from "The King & I"). All of these in fresh, original jazz arrangements. I don't know who does her arrangements as she plays with a different band every year: this year's George Mesterhazy Trio may have been the best I've seen her with yet (he's a brilliant pianist; his middle Eastern sounding arrangement of "Nature Boy" is chillingly good).

Always surprising, I wait with bated breath for what will come next. As I am one weaned on classic literature, music, even TV (all shows I watched were 1960's and prior)... each song is not only a step back to my childhood but also a step into melody that I hold so dear.

Music is the great love of my life - it's always been true. And I am no respecter of styles: I embrace it ALL. Still, there is something about jazz that is more haunting, enchanting, seductive, soothing, mesmerizing, relaxing and transporting than any other style. These nights at the intimate (if overpriced) Plush Room, what a jazz club should be, are magic for me... and I was privileged to relive it twice this February, first with Dan, then with Manka and Chelsea.

The funny part is, I keep running into Paula West frequently around town. I never say anything to her - not sure what I would say anyway - but it's interesting that I have seen her a good 5 or 6 times this year: sat next to her at the bar at NoPa, saw her at Westfield Shopping Centre, another time at Neiman Marcus and then ate breakfast at a table next to her at Dottie's this weekend. We're either fated to meet or it's just a coincidence of people with good taste colliding in our fair city.

Currently reading : Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela By Nelson Mandela