|© 2009 John Bliss|
Last week, across the street from the gig we were playing, a young woman lay dying from the side effects of a medical treatment which had saved her life some years before. During our break, Ben, Fred, and I crossed the street, knocked on her door, and were let in by her care giver. She was propped up in a bed placed in the living room where she could enjoy the warmth and cheer of a gas fireplace. She greeted us warmly and thanked us for coming over. We made a queer trio, with clarinet, tenor sax, and mandolin, but we could just as well have been the New York Philharmonic, seeing the way her eyes lit up. And our repertoire was pretty strange, too: an old Norwegian fisherman's hornpipe, "Klaus' Hornpipe" (which I learned from an old Norwegian fisherman, Klaus), the old jazz chestnut "My Romance,"and the only parts we could remember from a traditional klezmer tune, "Skotschne." Having run through our impromptu song list, she asked if we took requests, then made one; "Someone To Watch Over Me," and even now as I type this a week later, tears well up in my eyes.
Playing to a standing-room-only crowd at Carnegie Hall could not have been any more rewarding.