Literary Yard

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Prince on a Trumpet

By: Christopher Johnson

He mounts the bandstand like straddling a stallion, his hair in a magnificent pulsating swirl, his suit narrow and twisty, his shoes sharp and pointed, a gold chain caressing his neck, his eyes covered with Eighties wire-rim glasses.

Puts mouth to an ancient beaten-up trumpet and blows out a sound that attacks us all—a sound funky and syncopated and short and then elongated like the tail of a dolphin,

And he rears the trumpet high and low, swinging it like an electric guitar just the way Prince used to do,

And fills the room with his sound and his confidence.

He blows his way past standards and new stuff that is alternately melodic and audacious and beboppish with a million notes in a second like a runaway jet plane,

Never pausing, never taking a breath, elevated on the stage like a savior who will redeem us through music.

His body starts to move, he dances, he does hip-hop to the funkmeister beat of the drummer in a sweatshirt and the pianist from another country and the bassist who beats the giant stand-up bass and seduces forth the nether world of sound.

He puts his mouth to the mike and channels Satchmo—St. James Infirmary with its slow drag through the sad blues streets of the French Quarter.

He channels who else but Cab—Minnie the Moocher—and pretty soon all us timid polite introverted quiet folks at Andy’s are heigh-de-heigh-de-hoing along with this brash and intuitive Pied Piper.

He’s leading us right into the cave where we lose our inhibitions and birth a chorus.

He displaces the drummer and starts banging out the beat to St. James Infirmary now on speed and he’s banging those beats in the best and loudest sound possible this side of Krupa, crashing the cymbals and blistering on the big old dangerous bass drum that’s in tune with the beat of our collective hearts.

We the chorus pick up the beat with our hands massacring one another in approximate time to the beat of the universe that this Prince of the Trumpet has somehow magically corralled and roped into this jazz emporium–

The sounds of the universe that this amazing young man with the princely hair and noble mien has somehow syncopated with,

And so he doth redeem us all.


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