Monday, June 25, 2012

“Indestructible And Ungraspable”

The level of his dynamics was often kept low, like his speech. He was a soft player. But within that range, his playing was full of subtle dynamic shadings and constantly shifting colors. Some physicists have argued that a pianist cannot have a personal and individual “tone” because of the nature of the instrument, which consists of a bunch of felt hammers hitting strings. So much for theory. It is all in how the hammers are made to strike the strings, as well of course as the more obvious effects of pedaling, of which Bill was a master.

Bill’s was a comparatively flat-fingered approach, as opposed to the vertical hammer-stroke attack with which so many German piano teachers tensed up the hands and ruined the playing of generations of American children. Bill used to argue with me that his playing was not all that flat-fingered, but I sat low by the keyboard on many occasions and watched, and it certainly looked that way to me. On one such occasion, I kidded him about his rocking a finger on a key on a long note at the end of a phrase. After all, the hammer has already left the string: one has no further physical contact with the sound. “Don’t you know the piano has no vibrato?” I said.

“Yes,” Bill responded, “but trying for it affects what comes before it in the phrase.”

Gene Lees
writing in “The Poet: Bill Evans”
from “Reading Jazz”

“I think in four films, honestly the good old Alien has worn out,” says Scott of the reasons for moving away from the iconic xenomorph. “He’s no longer frightening. In one of the films he was trapped inside caskets of glass. Before he was indestructible and ungraspable.”

I can’t put my finger on it
but it can put its finger on me.

As soon as it pressed the button
the down arrow flashed and a bell rang

and the elevator opened.
The Loch Ness monster stepped inside first.

I stayed where I was and pointed
almost randomly off to the side.

“I’ve forgotten something,” I said,
“back at my desk. I’ll catch the next one.”

The Loch Ness monster put a hand
on the elevator door sensor

and asked me, “Should I hold this one?”
“No thanks,” I said, and started away,

“I’ll have to search through my whole desk.
The Loch Ness monster pressed a button

and as the doors started to close
smiled at me and waved and said, “Next time.”

I went back and sat at my desk.
I booted Microsoft Word and wrote

a story about a monster,
something almost like a little song

but with almost no rhymes. I can’t
put my finger on it but monsters

look something like jazz, sound like jazz,
look and sound like they’re impossible

but I think monsters know they’re not.
I don’t know. They do. They know me, too.

And since they know I’ll never know
they can play me like a piano.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When You Press Down A Piano Key

Moon Dust In Waltz Time

Headphones And Crucibles

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