NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 87

Plucking ( 2nd take )
I was seven when I first plucked a chicken . I used to watch older women wet tiny quills with their lips and stick the feathered end into their ears . They sat with their eyes closed , heads slightly tilted , and gently rolled a “ plume poule ” deep inside their ear canal , they hummed and cleared their throats ; I thought they had the spirit .
At twenty , When Charles Mingus ’ fingers stomped “ Better get it in your soul .” A deep resounding pulse that responded AH HUM A pulsating sensation slipping into my ear the way I felt when saints danced in my sleep , or perhaps the way my body slowly jerked when I introduced a wet feather into my ear . It was then I tried to pluck the bass , but my fingers were too slow to thump the groove .
I laughed at the thought that my Ex tried plucking happiness out of my soul . I am surrounded by soul music of an unbreakable people . And Holland was playing for saints while Joe Henderson ’ s tenor manifested F and C minor inside his red-headed skull . Plucking and striking chords , he stomped his right foot , lifting his bass from the stage in search of notes . I was in the sanctity of saints thrilling my own spirit .
At twenty five , Newly married , I spotted a postcard at Vertigo : five by seven , black and white , a black man dressed in a tux , hugging a double bass . It was 1960 , Aaron Bell of the Duke Ellington band . The bass rested on his left shoulder , back arched , head bent forward , eyes closed , teeth clenched , biting the music and begging the instrument for mercy .
At thirty-three , shaken by divorce ’ s thump , I cured my blues through Jazz . That Spring at the Charles Hotel ballroom , Dave Holland ’ s left fingers crawled on four wire strings the way red spiders dash back into their holes as his right hand busy plucking at the belly of the bass . Sound quivered .