Sunday, January 02, 2011

My Arizona Adventure

I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and part of Thursday of last week(between Christmas and New Year) in the state of Arizona. It was a magical experience with the whole thing like a roller coaster ride. I had a very hectic Tuesday of travel. The actual flights, ie San Francisco to Phoenix, layover, then Phoenix to Tuscon, were uneventful. However, the real adventure started out at the Tuscon airport. Earlier this year I had to renew my California drivers license. I did so at the local DMV. However, I was not given the actual license, just a temporary one. I told them I felt the license would be lost in the mail. So to make a long story short, the license never arrived and I forgot about it. When I went to the car rental place at the airport, I found that I could not be issued a rental. My hard copy had expired. The temporary had also expired. I tried calling the California DMV to get a faxed copy sent, but was unsuccessful. In fact I twice was on hold to talk to a technician and was both times cut off after 30 minutes each times.

The car rental people called the local DMV so I could determine what could be done. It turned out I could apply for an Arizona license. Since my California license had been expired less than a year(my hard copy, the actual license had been over the counter renewed and paid for)I could be issued an Arizona license for $10. With the help of two power beings, don Jesus and don Emilio, I was able to get to the DMV and back to the airport with a license and was in the end issued a rental car.

I was able to stay with 2 old friends, Harv Moscowitz and his wife, Catherine Tornbom. I have known Harv since I first started aikido in 1969. And I remember Catherine from as far back as 1974 when she was training at the Aikido Institute in Oakland under Alan Grow. It was wonderful to see them both. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings produced some interesting conversations. I thank them both for their friendship and hospitality.

Arizona was a welcome 3 day change from the bay area. The landscape was filled with cacti, open spaces, and very beautiful and irregular mountain rock formations. When I go back I would like to visit the Sonoran Desert.

The purpose of my visit was to see Artt Frank. I had talked with him over the phone and via e-mail. But this was the first time I was able to do so face to face. It was truly a mega-event in my life to meet him for the first time as well as his lovely wife Lisa. Artt is one of the few remaining direct links to an era of music termed jazz and in particular bebop. Artt played with Duke Ellington, with Billie Holiday, with Miles Davis and other greats. But mainly Artt is very closely tied to Chet Baker. Artt not only opened his home to me for an afternoon, he shared with me private recordings of himself and Chet. He went over them in great detail with me, highlighting important new directions for me to look at. I have been working on what he passed onto me and have noticed some real changes, from embrouchure to improved co-ordination of lips and fingers. And Artt is such a passionate person around music and jazz history.

I came across this jazz version of "California Dreamin'" on youtube. I heard the trumpet player and thought he must have been strongly influenced by Chet. When I checked to see who it was, it was none other than Chet Baker himself.


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