During Saturday's performance by Bohemian Trio, their first of Spoleto, I tried to conduct a little experiment.
Having a very limited background in jazz but having written about music for many, many years, I tried to think of the best way to capture what I was hearing without getting into the soulless, paint-by-number details that far too often ensnare writers, particularly when writing about jazz or other instrumental music. And so, I decided to let the music tell me a story, in this case a short film.
Admittedly, the one that I crafted had every bit to do with the seemingly never-ending downpour outside. Still, I let the Bohemian Trio — Yosvany Terry (sax and others), Orlando Alonso (piano), and Yves Dharamraj (cello) — guide me through a mini-suite of moods and melodies as pictures formed in my head. It went like this:
Our short opens to the sound of cascading water. It's trickling and flowing, over rooftops, down steps, into a creek. Children are dancing in puddles by the creek. As the music changes, we see people rushing home from work. Some are in cars. Others are walking briskly on the side walk. The streets are filled but flowing. They are headed home. But long after the cars are gone, a lone man walks the alleyways. He's homeless and he's digging through the discarded items, trash, waste. While searching a dumpster, he finds a toy boat; it's very much like one that he had as a child. In fact, the man wonders, is this my boat? He then decides that it is, and so he celebrates by dancing. His movements quickly become wild and erratic until he begins to resemble a dervish. He dances through the street and across puddles until he slips and drops the boat. It lands in a gutter and is immediately carried away by the current. He pursues the boat as it races further down the street, but he is unable to catch it. The boat has fallen down a storm drain. Inside the pipes, the boat's journey continues until his comes out of a pipe into a small creek in a wooded area. Three children are playing beside it. They are dancing in puddles. One picks up the boat. End scene.
Now, I don't know if any of that is useful to you in describing Bohemian Trio's music, but that's how it felt to me then. However, this little tidbit is of some note: it wasn't until after the song was over that Dharamraj revealed the song's name, "Bohemia: Memories of Childhood."
I don't know about you, but something tells me they knew exactly what they were doing when they gave the song its title. You can consider this a ringing endorsement of Bohemian Trio. They have a show tonight (Mon. May 30) and two tomorrow. You should catch them.