Hanging with the Hepcats of Omaha
I'm new to Jazz. I fell in love with it after I started listening to it on Pandora last summer. One day my ears stumbled upon Thelonious Monk. WOW. The song was "Straight, No Chaser". I could feel my ears smiling. I was an immediate fan. Since then I've downloaded several of his albums and rounded up his biography by Robin D. G. Kelley.
Kelley introduces us to Monk's life by writing, “His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of "bebop" and establishing Monk as one of America's greatest composers....and he was the ultimate hipster”. (Thelonious Monk, The Life and Times of an American Original)
Monk created sounds that jet unexpectedly in countless directions yet feel complete. He rarely played a song the same way twice. It’s beautiful, organized chaos.
It’s an amazing sound, man. (I'm wearing my beret and sunglasses as I'm typing this. Pardon the typos, it's really hard to type while sporting sunglasses here in the Mini Groovy Condo.) For me, Monk's music is to my ears what abstract art is to my eyes.
No one has ever described me as “cool”. No one has ever, ever uttered the phrase, “Wow, you’re so cool, you hip and cool lady, you!” But even the least cool of us are transformed to temporary coolness while we listen to Monk. It’s a mood and an attitude. It’s second-hand cool for me, but it’s still cool and I’ll take it.
Haven’t heard Monk’s work? If not, I’m thrilled to introduce you to him. Get your ears ready to be wowed and if you’re not already cool, emotionally prepare yourself.
"One day my ears stumbled upon Thelonious Monk. WOW. The song was "Straight, No Chaser". I could feel my ears smiling."
I painfully took piano lessons as a kid. I thought the whole counting thing was rigid madness. Why couldn't I just play Jump Frog Jump to the beat I wanted? (Don’t even get me started on Squirrel on the Fence.) Ah, if only I would've known Monk then I would've had an argument against the metronome.
So, what's a new Jazz fan to do if it's not a Jazz on the Green night and they wanna hear some live jazz close to home? A friend gave rave reviews of The Omaha Lounge on 15th and Farnam Street. My Sweetie and I checked it out last night.
It's just a stone's throw from our fabulous building. It’s a walkable distance - about a mile - but I was wearing my tall clicky-clicky heels so we drove instead. There’s no need to risk an ankle injury en route to hear jazz. (And I was teased for leaving my Jazz on the Green balcony perch. Yes, I can do it!)
The Omaha Lounge is on the first floor of the lovely, historic Barker Building and has a relaxed, cozy atmosphere with a cool vibe. Last night was Sunday, so parking was free at the meters. There’s no cover charge, and the drinks are reasonably priced. Oh, and the music was great! We heard Matt Wallace on Sax and Ricky Williams on Bass. Not only are they talented, but they looked like they really enjoyed entertaining us. It was fun for them, too. And they played a few of Monk's hits.
We’ll be back.
If you have a favorite place to listen to live jazz, please let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to know where you go to hang with the hepcats, too.