i loves me some turrentine
joyride, 2004 -- by chad
I stopped dead in my tracks as soon as I heard the first few notes flow out of the street musician's saxophone, accompanied by his friend's trumpet. I was at the corner of Grant Avenue and Tillman Place tonight, on my way to meet a friend for dinner at Original Joe's in the Tenderloin.
Spinning around, I walked up and asked, "Is that 'Bayou' you just played?" as he finished up.
"Yeah, it is, actually." He looked me up and down, and took a drag off his cigarette.
"Sounds like Turrentine's version," I said.
It's a Jimmy Smith tune, but I recognize it most from Stanley Turrentine's "Joyride" album, released on Blue Note records back in 1965. My dad had that record, along with some Jimmy Smith. I pilfered all of them, and now have them here with me in San Francisco, where they actually get played from time to time (I own two turntables and a record player).
He grinned at me, and said "Yeah, that record is out of print. I can't find it anywhere."
"I have it. It was my dad's, an original Blue Note from '65, actually. I used to listen to it constantly when I was a kid," I told him. "I took it for myself, but bought my dad the CD because I felt bad for taking his music. He doesn't have a record player, so I didn't feel too bad."
"My brother had that record, and I'd listen to it constantly." He took another drag. "My name's Top." He stuck out his hand, and I shook it.
"You live here in the city?"
"Yeah, North Beach."
"Man, I'm trying to get some gigs in North Beach. Tell you what, come see me on Sundays at Haight and Fillmore, from 6 to 11. I play there every week."
"I'd like that, actually. I love live music more than anything." I put a dollar bill in the open box.
"Here, this is for you." Top picked up his saxophone, and made it sing.
It was such a beautiful, haunting melody...and it spoke to me. Not with words, but emotions. I stood there, leaning against a building, and closed my eyes. It was like Top's soul was speaking to me through the saxophone, and I felt a wave of euphoria wash over me.
You see, music does that to me. Honestly, it's stronger and more satisfying than the best ecstacy pill I've ever popped (yes, I tried that about a half dozen times when I was younger). He finished the melody, and I opened my eyes. About a dozen people had walked over and gathered in front of us. One of them dropped a ten dollar bill into the box.
"I've got to bounce, I'm on my way to dinner," I said, actually wanting to stay a minute longer.
"All right man," Top said, smiling, extending his hand. I shook it.
"See you Sunday."
I walked away down Grant towards Market Street, and savored the dark, sad notes of Top's sax as they faded slowly into the cool, moonlit San Francisco night.
(note: Most, if not all, photos I take of old American automobiles are inspired by that single Stanley Turrentine album cover.)