Thursday, June 19, 2014

At the tender age of 50, my first ever song request played on the radio

 A couple of days ago, I took off work in order to escort Mrs. S to a concert in Nashville. Any day I don’t go to work is a good day, and any day I don’t go to work for a reason related to music is even better. Which is to say, I wasn't excited about driving four hours round trip to hear Il Volo, three young Italian guys sing “Memory” with a Placido Domingo take, but, I was looking to make the best of it and enjoy myself anyway. On the way up to Nashville, we were listening to Real Jazz on Sirius XM, and the DJ Mark Ruffin said he was going to play something from Roy Hargrove. Here’s where my story begins.

Il Volo: European suits, big hair, Italian shoes, and they can sing. What's not to like? Photo © Mrs. S.
When the song came on, the radio displayed “My Shining Hour” and “Roy Hargrove”. The song, however, was Milestones. Even Mrs. S, who is not all that good with the names of jazz songs but who likes “Milestones” looked at the radio with a quizzical look. “That’s Milestones”, I said. She said, yeah, what’s going on? Now, the song that was on the radio was really hot. It had some of the best solos I’d ever heard on Miles’ modal tune, and the piano work was fan-freaking-tastic. I told Mrs. S I had to have it, she agreed, and said it should be easy to find on Amazon or Google.

The next morning, I tried mightily to find a Roy Hargrove version of Milestones, but what I could find was not that song. (By the way, on my way to work, Real Jazz played “My Shining Hour” by John Roney – another coincidence.) I told Mrs. S of my travails, and she tried to work her Internet magic, but in the end, she couldn't find it either. I told her I was going to call Sirius and talk to the DJ and sort it out, because I figured they had made a mistake and would be able to direct me to the recording.

So, I waited until about 20 minutes into Mark Ruffin’s time slot, then gave the request line a ring. A human answered the phone: “Real Jazz”. I was momentarily stunned. “Real Jazz,” he said again. I sputtered something about making a request. He said, “Sure. Watcha wanna hear?” I told him I wasn't sure but it was a song Mark Ruffin had played the day before, it said Roy Hargrove My Shining Hour, but it was Milestones, definitely Milestones, and I really wanted to hear it again, but I also wanted to know who played on the track. “Okay. Hold on.” I waited about twenty seconds and when the guy came back on, he told me what he knew about that track. By this time,  I could tell it actually was Mark Ruffin, as he started to sound like himself and my shock had tapered off. I asked if he was Mark and he said, yeah. And I said, I didn't think you would answer your own phones, and he said, I do everything, man. I said, well thanks for the info, but you know, that song is Milestones. He said, hold on. Came back, said, You know, the record company f***ed up, because, the track says My Shining Hour, but you’re right, it’s Milestones, so yeah, the record company f***ed up. (I love talking with jazz people. We all talk normally, and the same language, literally.) I thanked him for the information and asked that if he could play my request, to play it between 5:30 and 6:00, because that’s when I’d be in the car. I told him I was calling from Madison Alabama, and he said, okay man, thanks, and I said thank you.

So, I’m driving to my piano lesson, and Mark’s playing one Horace Silver song after another. Uh-oh. Something going on, either it’s Horace’s birthday or he died, or something. Sure enough, it gets to seven minutes before Mark goes off and he comes on the air and says, as close as I can remember it, “It’s a sad day today in the jazz world, as the great Horace Silver has passed away. You just heard a few of Horace’s greatest songs, and Les Davis is up at the top of the hour and he’s going to play a lot more of Horace Silver’s music for you, as we've had a number of requests, but before I go, I have one more request that I can’t ignore from a listener in Madison Alabama. I had a great conversation with this guy, and he wanted to hear some Roy Hargrove, so here it is. Swing safely, this Wednesday.” And, he did, in fact, play Milestones by Roy Hargrove, although it was different from the version I was talking about and was just called “Miles”. But still, it was what I asked for.

I don't know the exact song, but something from this album woke us this morning, the day after Mr. Silver's death. 
And this morning, our alarm clock that plays from an iPod with most of our jazz collection loaded on it went off at 5AM on the dot with – wait for it – a song by Horace Silver.

It couldn't be clearer to me: I need to put jazz and music at the center of my life from now on.

And the day we lost Horace Silver, was, indeed, a sad day, even if I did get my request played. Thanks, Mark and thank you, Sirius XM.