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Excerpt from Thanksgiving piece on Sun Ra's Jazz in Silhouette

Tuesday 11/9/21

There are certain works of art with which I wish I could have a conversation, so that I might express my gratitude for them. I would say, “thank you for existing, and doing what you do. You’ve enriched my life.”

I wouldn’t downplay the venerated “usual suspects”—A Love Supreme, Sgt. Pepper, Citizen Kane—but I’d give top priority to recognizing achievements of human creativity, made for the betterment of humans, that seem to come to us as if on some independent, solitary mission for the exclusive purpose of connection.

People will tell you that the holidays are hard, and there are certainly enough blues and jazz songs testifying to that emotional fact, which we should perhaps term an emotional truth. They’re really talking about Christmas, though, when we remember what we’ve lost, those we miss, the opportunities we may have squandered, as the days grow shorter. I feel like we almost need carols and wreaths and the sanguinity—the hope—that the color red represents, to make it through some of those Yules. Or maybe I am projecting my experiences on to you, fellow jazz lover.

Thanksgiving, though, is “tricky” hard, because it has this built-in directive that you’re supposed to give thanks for parts of your life, with an emphasis on personal relationships, and your home, but what if none of that is going the way you wish it to? Need it to? You can feel selfish if you find it challenging to give those aforesaid thanks, and you know that no one wants to hear you say, “I am not thankful for anything, at the moment,” or mumble a few words about health, which is certainly important enough, but you likely don’t want it to be your go-to answer.

But I have found there is a remedy, and my remedy works, too, for those who love their lives, their relationships, their living situations. It works for everyone, and it’s something I do each year, which I thought I’d share with you this Thanksgiving—and we’ll see about doing it in years hence—as if we’re all sitting around the table, taking turns to express what makes us grateful, and when we come to me, I will say, “time spent with Sun Ra. Especially time spent with Sun Ra’s Jazz in Silhouette. For the record is wise, and it is has stirred me at my core, for which I am truly grateful.”


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