Monday, September 19, 2005

Speaking of Values

Another lovely fact of the evolution of the human brain just crossed paths with me, turning my vexation into the relative beginning of a wonderful day.

I downloaded the album of the week from Basic Hip, and I am listening to it right now. From the very first song, it hit me: the smell of my dad's trumpet.

My dad was/is a jazz musician/conductor/composer/arranger, etc. He had a number of instrumebts, but the one he played most when I was a child was his trumpet. He also had a lot of great record albums from the 60's: Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Louis Prima and Keely Smith Charlie Parker, all kinds of things. This album, The James Bond Sountrack, is precisely the kind of jazz my dad listened to. When I heard the first track, my head? nose? was filled with the smell of his trumpet.

I was pretty little when he played trumpet and led the Wenatchee Big Band (he's a Kapellemeister now in Leavenworth Washington). My memory tells me I used to go to some of these concerts. I'm not exactly sure when or where. But what I do know is poking around his trumpet case. I think the inside was red velour or velveteen. I'd pick up the trumpet and put the mouthpiece in. Trumpets and other brass horns tend to be very humid...steamy, sort of. That's because they're constantly being blown into, and no matter how much you release the spit valve, they're still a bit mist in their cases. There's somewhat of a chemical reaction taking place between the metal and the low acid in the spit. My dad was a big coffee drinker. That must have been part of the smell. It's not pleasant, by any means. But it reminds me of my dad. You know how that is.

That' s because nature (that evil, godless, worthless old evolution demon) gave us a part of our brains where memory and the sense of smell are neighbors, and therefore intermingle. This also can trigger emotion. It's not just a magic trick that The Amazing Jesus pulled out of his flowing sleeves along with the loaves and fishes. It's part of our bodies, this brain of ours. It's part of why we are who we are. It can be mighty pleasant sometimes. Even if the smell of wet brass isn't inherently a "good" smell, circumstances and my brain made it so.

Another point for this lump of "meat body," as the Scientologists would say!

1 comment:

Jesse Gritter said...

I responded to you previous post here.