“What we play is life.”
- Louis Armstrong
Moments of being truly and deeply affected by something come along rarely, maybe once in a decade if we’re lucky enough to catch them. Such moments usually have to do with births and deaths, and they’re so loaded with white-hot emotions laid bare, untouchable, they leave us gasping for breath and wondering how did that happen, how did we survive it?
I’ll never forget such a time, still fresh and burning in my mind, brought about by one of the world’s greatest jazz bands at the end of an evening of superb artistry and untrammelled joy. The band wove through a crowd made frantic by their gift of music, followed by a grieving family brought to euphoria by the moment, twirling brightly-coloured umbrellas as they danced and sang and clapped with the rest of us.
We were far-removed from its origins, breathing the Atlantic salt air instead of a Delta brine-tinged breeze, but this was a true New Orleans jazz funeral. I clapped, I sang, I stamped my feet and felt the burn of tears and the choke of laughter, and it left me gasping and wondering how did that happen, how did we survive it?
A shared moment of grace.