An artist encounter of the miraculous kind
It was a wild night, complete with powerful winds, punishing rain and lots of downed trees and power lines, with half of western Nevada County out of power.
There I was, one of the artists of the Grass Valley Graphics Group – which had contributed large paintings and murals of jazz themes for a concert featuring Wynton Marsalis – hanging artwork to adorn the cavernous venue where Marsalis would be performing. This high profile jazz musician had been invited to play in Nevada County to raise the profile of jazz in Nevada County at the behest of the local arts council and some persuasive friends.
I had been voted by my artist friends as the best one to get an interview with Marsalis and was on a public phone trying to get something going (“No, Mr. Marsalis is not giving interviews this trip,” the handler said) when a nearby woman overheard me.
“Is Wynton in town?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said dispiritedly, “He’s performing and teaching here this weekend.”
“No wonder I couldn’t reach him,” she said almost to herself.
“Listen, I’m a friend of his. We did some projects together a few years ago in New York. If you get me to Wynton, I’ll get you an interview.”
Not quite believing this miracle of coincidence, I agreed, grabbed a videographer friend who also happened to be visiting from out of town (another coincidence) and rocketed over to the concert venue where the master and his band were working with the young musicians. During the short drive, I found out the woman was only in town for that weekend with her husband. They had been invited by a friend who had inherited a house and asked them to stay there and check out the community, to see whether the friend should move there or just sell the house. Coincidence, indeed.
Of course, Marsalis recognized her and I got my interview. Besides grace, I think the other part of this was my willingness to at least put out the energy, then stand back and watch events unfold as they would. Whatever, it was a high point for me as a musician.
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