Born in the slums of Rio de Janeiro Raul never learned an instrument. His family was too poor to be able to afford what would have been an extreme luxury. Still Raul loved music and took it in whenever he could. A job as an errand boy when he was 8 allowed him to get a Walkman CD player to listen to music. He relied heavily on the libraries as his source of music although shop lifting also came in useful. He also used the libraries as a source of obtaining musical scores. He was particularly drawn to…Read more
He woke up. It was hot. He was naked and he had thrown the sheet off of him for it was too much. He looked next to him and there was Rose. She was sleeping with just the sheet over her. She too was naked. Jean-luc looked over at her and her white pasty flesh. She was fun. But he hoped she wouldn’t stick around too long. That would taint the previous evening for him. He would get her coffee and croissant but nothing more. He didn’t want to spend the day with her. He got out of bed and walked to his window and pushed the shutters open. He stood naked before the city. Few people were up at that hour as the sun was just starting to rise and it was a weekend. He stepped away from the window and pulled on some shorts and went to make the coffee. She stirred in the bed but she didn’t open her eyes although Jean-luc knew she was now awake. He put the water on to boil and put the coffee in the press. He returned to the window and thought about the previous evening. Rose’s husband was out of town and they had continued the physical end of a former relation they had shared. Rose probably would dump Antoine, her husband, if Jean-luc had expressed interest in rekindling the flame but he had always made it abundantly clear that a relationship was never in the offing. It was perfect for him. It still allowed him to have his freedom but he got the occasional physical intimacy that he so enjoyed. The water was boiling so he poured it over the grounds and worked the press and then let it settle a little. He left his apartment, which was actually an old office penthouse of a warehouse, and went up the street to the baker and got some bread and croissants and returned.
When he entered the apartment Rose was awake but still under the sheet. He looked at her. She wasn’t that pretty but she felt good all the same. It’s not like he’d have her on his arm should the Consort ever win a grammy. He smiled when he had this thought.
“What’s so funny Jean-luc?” she asked as she threw the sheet off and went to where her dress lay on the floor.
“Nothing, just thinking of the Consort winning a Grammy.”
“That’s not so funny. It’s possible. You guys are good enough.” She said encouragingly. He let the topic drop as the real humor to him was her being on his arm at the ceremony. He poured the coffee and brought her a cup and then put the croissants on a plate and put them on the night stand for her. He wasn’t hungry.
“You want to do something today. Museum or lunch.” she asked
“I would but I’ve a rehearsal with Peter’s group. That’s at noon.” This was a partial lie. He did have a rehearsal with Peter Sturtevant's group but it wasn’t until the early evening. He just didn’t want to waste his day with Rose. “We have that big show coming up on Tuesday.” It was indeed a big show. Peter was an avant-garde composer who somehow managed to set up impressive shows and also managed to pay his band members rather well. Jean-luc really didn’t like his material but he understood it and was able to perform it at least well enough to satisfy Peter. Plus he liked the band. Peter was the pianist and then there was Henri on upright, Darrell on the sax and Gina on the electronic drum kit. He liked her in particular. The electronic kit allowed them to play smaller museum type shows without blowing the top off the place and she really knew how to use it. She didn’t even play acoustic drums. They even had done a show in a graveyard once. Very eerie that show. “When’s Antoine come home?” he asked knowing it was that evening.
“Not until tonight. I was hoping to spend some time with you. Just mess around a bit.”
“Sorry dear. Work calls. Peter pays well you don’t want to piss him off.”
So she kept hanging around until Jean-luc actually had to start packing up his musical gear. It was now about 11 o’clock. She finally realized that he was trying to get ready for his rehearsal and she got up and left. She gave him a quick kiss and then left. When the doors closed Jean-luc’s shoulders sagged with relief as he exhaled. He didn’t want to have to leave and get on the bus just to go a couple blocks and walk back. He watched her walk up the street through the slats on the shutters and he could tell she was just heading home. She suspected nothing of his lie. At that point Mingus, his cat, came rubbing against his leg. He picked her up and spoke to her.
“Mingus, why can’t they understand that a physical relationship is just that and nothing else. If she ever divorced Antoine that would be the end of this.” He looked at his calendar and that was when he remembered he was going to head to Cleveland on Thursday. The Consort was getting together to put out their follow up to “Baobob”. He was looking forward to that. He enjoyed the music immensely. This album was going to have more compositional input from the band. He didn’t write much himself but he loved to work with the wind arrangements both acoustic and electronic. But first he had to do Peter’s work. It actually paid better than the Consort in terms of time commitment but the Consort was a blast. Plus Mind Fry flew everyone in and home again at their expense and put everyone up plus they paid them a wage. Usually you would come in for a couple weeks at a time. Sometimes more. He hoped that Barney and Vlad would be there while he was there. They always had a good time exploring Cleveland’s nightlife. It wasn’t known for an overly wild nightlife but with his two cohorts things were always interesting and fun.
The day passed and Jean-luc went to lunch. He ate a salad and had some bread and wine and returned to his apartment and took a nap. He had fans on but it was hot. It was in the 90's. He didn’t like Paris when it was hot. That was about the only time he didn’t like it. It was strange because he had gone to Senegal when the Consort was forming to visit with Babakar and the heat there didn’t bother him but when it got this hot in Paris he didn’t want to do anything. Luckily the rehearsal space was air conditioned. He got up from his nap and he was soaked with sweat. He took a shower and left. His stuff was already packed from the morning when he lied to Rose so he didn’t have to pack anything. He was taking his tin whistles, recorders and his EWI, an Electronic Wind Instrument Oddly he didn’t play a regular flute. Never really interested him much. He left his place and took the bus to the rehearsal which was about a half hour away via public transportation. It was a long rehearsal. Almost 4 hours. Peter was wound up and being very animated and suggestive. This was why he paid well. Usually the last rehearsal before a big show Peter would be very excitable and kind of agitated. The musicians knew this and they also knew that they knew their stuff and the show was going to go well. Peter was always less confident. At the end of the day Jean-luc and Gina went to a café and had something to eat and drank wine. He liked her but not as a women. He liked her playing. The fact that she was a lesbian might have dissuaded him from pursuing her physically, as he was want to do. They talked and drank and got kind of drunk. It was now early Monday morning and the show was actually the next day. It was in a small theater and the ticket prices were rather high considering the wildness of the music . This was part of Peter’s genius.
“Do you like Peter’s music.” Jean-luc asked Gina.
“Yes, actually I do. I listen to his stuff for my own enjoyment. Usually the stuff I didn’t play on.... you?” she said returning the query.
“Yes and no. I understand it. I feel comfortable playing it or I wouldn’t accept the job.” he said lying as he would do it because of the money and the musicians he got to play with. For despite all his self-centeredness and greed Jean-luc was first and foremost about the music. Then it was about the money. If an opportunity arose that exposed him to fine musicians he would take it regardless of the pay. “But on the other hand I do not listen to it on my own.”
“That’s cool. You can’t like everything. That Headwhiz thing you do is pretty awesome. I listen to Baobob all the time. That drummer is like a clock. I’m guessing he is a really uptight dude... yes?” she asked
“No, not really. He keeps to himself and doesn’t say a lot but I wouldn’t call him uptight. His timing is impeccable.”
“Well if he ever quits... don’t forget your friendly neighborhood lesbian electronic drummer... “ she said smiling.
“You would probably fit in well, even if Hans didn’t quit. He only plays an acoustic kit. Won’t go near hand percussion and yet he and Samba blend so well.”
“On the other hand I would hate to see him quit. He is too good and he is perfect for you” she said.
“Yeah, he is. He was one of the first to join Babakar. Ya know Darrell has dropped some pretty big hints to play in the Consort.” Jean-luc added.
“Really, I can’t see that.”
“Nor can I. He’s too much of a stone bopper. I don’t know if he would handle the diversity of the rest of the players. I honestly don’t think he’d be happy. He works well with Peter’s stuff though.” Then silence fell upon their conversation. They realized the night was done so they finished their wine and shook hands and parted ways. The next day went by quickly and pretty soon it was the day of the show.
They were to meet at the theater at 3 o’clock for the sound check which was at 3:30. They didn’t play until 7 but Peter liked them all to be together going into the performance. It was one of those peculiar things familiar to artists. No one objected and it allowed them to work out any last minute things. Plus, and this was too part of Peters motivation, had them handling their instruments so the were warmed up by show time. He like to hit the stage with a bang. There was a small catered lunch around 4 and the 5 of them gathered at a table backstage and ate. Soon they were being alerted by the stage manager that they were 15 minutes away. The musicians gathered at the edge of the stage. They were silent. Then they heard the announcer say “The Peter Sturtevant Ensemble” and they walked out. The first piece was a high energy bit that had Jean-luc squeaking and squealing away on his electronic instrument while Gina kicked the tempo along and Henri walked all over the low end. Peter was in the background just vamping on some chords. Darrell carried the ‘melody’. The melody was a dissonant spray of high tempo notes and chromatic runs. It ended with each musician just making as much noise as they could. There was no more ‘music’ it was just a beautiful chaotic din. Then silence. The crowd erupted and Peter stood up smiling and acknowledge the band with a sweep of his hand. The next piece was a rather ‘normal duet between the piano and sax. Henri, Gina and Jean-luc moved to the shadows of the stage. The next piece featured Jean-luc with an array of delays and echos that he improvised off the rhythm of the delayed notes. Once Jean-luc had the rhythm set up Gina and Henri came in and then both Peter and Darrell played a unison melody before throwing it back Jean-luc who faded out slowly. It was a good night. The musicians and the audience were of one mind it seemed. After several more compositions Peter introduced the band and then announced the last piece. It was actually Jean-luc’s favorite. Peter told the audience that he’d written this piece to end the evenings program and that there would be no encore. The crowd understood. It started slowly with Gina lightly tapping the e-cymbals. In fact that was all she did for the entire piece. At the pace of a dirge only higher. Peter came in playing random notes scattered across the full keyboard seemingly random although there was no improvisation in the piece. Jean-luc just lay out long sustaining notes at the low end of one of his recorders. Henri held a slow steady low end down. As the piece came to its end the lights came down and the musicians snuck off and the curtain closed slowly. When the house lights came up the place erupted. They would not take no for an answer. Still all they got was the band coming out for one last bow.
Afterward they were in the green room and there was a nice spread of food and wine. “Peter does things up right ya know.” Gina said to Jean-luc.
“Indeed.” and at that point he noticed over by the door Rose was talking to the guard. It seemed she didn’t have a pass to come back. Jean-luc walked over. “It’s alright, she is my guest.” he told the guard who let her in.
“What are you doing here. I didn’t think you liked this type of stuff”
“He knows. Antoine knows.” she said and her voice trembled. “He’s going to kill you.”
“You told him it was me, what the...”
“No I didn’t tell him it was you but he is going to find out and then I fear for you. Oh Jean-luc... I’m so sorry. He came back Saturday night late. He said he was too close to waste the money on a room. I wasn’t there. When I came back he exploded. I thought he was going to hit me. I had to figure out some way of letting you know. I couldn’t go to your place.” Jean-luc was doing his best to look like he cared. “Look just tell him it was a one time thing and that you’re sorry and you won’t do it again. Of course we probably will have to suspend things for a while. Don’t wreck your marriage over it.”
“Jean-luc, it already is wrecked. We don’t love each other. If it weren’t for Esmeralda I am sure I’d leave him for...” and her voice trailed off as she knew that he didn’t feel the same. That is when she started to cry. She was trying to hold it back but it just made her shoulders jerk all the more and then the tears came running down her face. Jean-luc put his arms around her. He was trying to seem like he was comforting her but his mind was disgusted. “Why can’t she just deal with it. I didn’t ask for this type of crap and she knows it.” he was thinking. He didn’t love her. She was fun in small doses. This was getting out of hand. The more he thought of her and her tears and her sobs the more disgusted he felt with her. “This is why I dumped her sorry ass. She can’t do anything herself. She should be dealing with Antoine herself not throwing it in my lap. I’ve almost nothing to do with this. I could be anyone. She needs to deal with it.” These were the type of thoughts surging through his head. Eventually it annoyed him so much he took Rose by the shoulders and held her back from him and said. “Look you need to go to him. Just don’t tell him who you were with and in time things will heal. Whatever you do don’t say it was me. She looked at him and quit crying. She knew exactly what Jean-luc was saying. For a brief moment she hated him. Then she turned and walked away. Jean-luc returned to the party thinking “That flight to Cleveland can’t come too soon.”