Sunday in Old San Juan sounds like a title to a song about a woman alone, who on seeing a rainbow over the park where she’s heading knows it’s a signal for joy.
The comfort of together is lost to her; those she loved left this life to continue their sacred journey. Left alone to learn to honor her existence, she wanders steep walkways. What do I want to do? My knees hurt; how far do I want to walk? No pain, no gain, so she heads to the top of the hill where a Turkish restaurant serves quality food.
Doormen try to entice her into their restaurants.
“Genuine Puerto Rican food, you will love it,” he said with almost a leer on his face.
“Yo vivo aqui. I get that all the time. I’m looking for something different,” her eyebrows seemed to leap a couple of times before her mouth and eyes settled into a lascivious smile. She walked on aching knees; where the hell is that place?
Finally, the Turkish doorman leads her to a table for one in the corner. She gathers the spirits of her dearly departed. Isn’t this charming, she asks. She’s not alone when she invokes the spirits who love her. Imagining herself surrounded with love she looks across the room; there’s no man handsome or otherwise to smile at her, just a few young couples very much into themselves, but she sees the pity in young women’s eyes.
Pity, the place where she’s lived for three years, draws her into the dark energy. She feels diminished; lentil soup and yogurt revive her. She heads back to the Bahia Urbana for an evening of jazz, topped by Jorge Pardo from Spain.
A credible group of students opens; her head begins to bob with the beat. These kids are good musicians and a couple of the talented girl singers. She smiles at the stage, enjoying the display of promise.
The second group was individually wonderful musicians, but she didn’t connect with them when they played together. This for some reason made her sad. She thought about leaving, but she had never seen jazz musicians from Spain before.
If she didn’t know they were from Spain, would they stand out as different the local band? She thought about the roots of jazz in the states, while group number two rocked some fabulous individual riffs. She happily remembered when Caribbean Jazz became part of her world.
Would Spanish Jazz imprint strongly or be a wisp? Her back ached, so before the last set, she stood to stretch. You know the look folks get when they’re trying to look, but don’t want to be seen looking? Some seemed friendly, some held pity, kind of an awe you’re alone face and some were simply; what the fuck level of surprise is she doing here, but she never felt malice.
The walk to sustenance led to back and knees screaming above the music, but she’d come too far to leave without being exposed to some Spaniards playing instruments.
Generally, flutes fail to hold her attention, so when the thin longhaired man began to play she was thinking that maybe this wasn’t going to be worth the wait. A couple hundred miles round trip drive, gas, tolls, and parking for just getting there meant she wanted the trip to be worth expenses. A little seasoning and you go all critical, she laughed. His playing seemed rather pleasant.
Jorge Pardo stood like a toreador waving his wand; that looks and sounds pretty good. With a quick right to left movement his flute left notes, she followed in admiration. “He’s so Spanish,” she chuckled, having seen a fair number of flute playing people over her lifetime.
The stage backlit by well designed, colorful commercials showcased the performers in silhouette. A second man, holding a guitar stepped into the light and both had the most amazingly erect posture. A Spanish guitar speaks about the culture, the vibrancy of the people; the young man playing fluently carried himself with the same manly elegance as Pardo, who next played sax.
The drummer who could play in anyone’s band supported and blended very well. A clever fellow with an enormous base pleased her when more of the same would have been too much.
Flamenco goes so well with jazz; sound, presentation excellent, so she wanted to dance, but nobody was dancing. She packed up and danced her way out of the park. Young women signaling her thumbs up gave her a helping hand down a slippery slope. They seemed happy to see her. She felt a lovely group synergy; the trek to the car didn’t seem quite so far.
Problems, self-pity she left at the door the night she learned about Spanish Jazz.