I do make a practice of only putting up new blog entries when I have something I really think is worth sharing. We have facebook, twitter and myspace for casual thoughts and comments and keeping up with the Joneses. But some magic just happened to me, and I feel fired up to share that message with you all: “Don’t forget that there is magic in the world!” Those of you who have read my old blog will know that I had a category called Magic, and periodically wrote about case studies of it in my life. But we have to go back to last night to set the scene for this case I am about to share.
I have been performing once a month at the Ragtime Rendezvous at Dressel’s Café in St. Louis, MO. This is an early evening open-mike event on the First Sunday of every month. We are blessed with several fine ragtime performers in St. Louis, including Dave Majchrzak, Rich Egan, Morgan Siever, and, occasionally, The St. Louis Ragtimers, who are a veritable ragtime institution. I wouldn’t put myself up there with the local ragtime gliterati, but I AM a good entertainer, and I have fun performing. Last night I performed three challenging rags I have been practicing very diligently this last month, but I made more than my share of errors. It’s one thing to practice in the sanctity of your own home, it’s another to play DTR’s Washington County Breakdown, only to have two major performers noisily exit during the C section. But like I said, it’s a great rag, and SOMEBODY has to play it!
When it got later in the evening and the remaining performers were taking turns playing encores, I just sat down and spontaneously played and sang Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin'”. Even though I got the words wrong, the spontaneity and sheer joy that I put into that song made for good entertainment, and the remaining loyal devotees, who are close to being family, applauded enthusiastically. Driving home in our 1997 red Nissan truck after the Rendezvous, I thought to myself about this, and concluded that I should actually practice one song each month where I planned to both sing and play. And, I thought, I do love Ain’t Misbehavin’, so simple yet so unforgettable. I would just need to find a good actual piano arrangement of the piece by Waller himself, and incorporate that into the already polishable performance I had going.
So now here’s where the magic comes in. This morning was full of work, including the monthly recycling at Operation Brightside. When I finally sat down to take a rest about noon—after reading a chapter of the Wikipedia Revolution on my iPhone kindle app—I recalled my Waller resolution from the night before, and went up to the third floor to practice something. As I was going over my ragtime books, my eyes landed on the seldom-opened copy of Jazz, Blues, Boogie and Swing for the Piano. I pulled it out and opened it . . . right to an arrangement of Ain’t Misbehavin by Fats Waller. It is a wonderful arrangement, and just 32 bars, exactly what I was looking for. Naturally, I was elated and surprised by this discovery, and it was an actual discovery.
But, you say, especially the diehard skeptics (and we DO need skeptics), this is hardly magic! Just a coincidence. Or maybe you do recognize this as something you would call magic. I don’t really care what it is called: magic, your angels watching over you, coincidence, good luck, subconscious recall, intuitive problem solving, synchronicity, serendipity, dippadeedoo. Whatever. I don’t need or even want a theological or metaphysical explanation of this aspect of my life. I just know and am thankful for the fact that someway, somehow, if I remain open to the possibility, the Universe comes up and kisses me in the nicest ways. Today It hugged me and gave me an original Fats Waller arrangement to work on for the next Ragtime Rendezvous.