A lot of trumpet players try to bowl you over. This guy, whose last album appeared on many year-end top-10 lists (When the Heart Emerges Glistening, Blue Note), does something different. He gets under your skin.
Ambrose Akinmusire (ah-kin-MOO-sir-ee) Quintet (AA, trumpet; Walter Smith III, tenor saxophone; Fabian Almazan, piano; Harish Ragavan, bass; Justin Brown, drums); live, New York (Jazz Standard), 2011
Everything you don’t love, make sure that’s not in your playing.
Wislawa Szymborska (vees-WAH-vah shim-BOR-ska), poet
July 2, 1923-February 1, 2012
The world—whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence, or embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, animals, and perhaps even plants, for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain; whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we’ve just begun to discover, planets already dead? still dead? we just don’t know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we’ve got reserved tickets, but tickets whose lifespan is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world—it is astonishing.
But “astonishing” is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We’re astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we’ve grown accustomed to. Now the point is, there is no such obvious world. Our astonishment exists per se and isn’t based on comparison with something else.
Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like “the ordinary world,” “ordinary life,” “the ordinary course of events” . . . But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.
—Wislawa Szymborska, Nobel Lecture (excerpt, translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh), 12/7/96
Until 1996, when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, I’d never heard of her. Since then I’ve read virtually everything of hers that’s appeared in translation. How much does she mean to me? Well, she’s one of two charter members (the other’s saxophonist Von Freeman) of the ultra-exclusive MCOTD Hall of Fame.