Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It's so easy to become mired in daily life.  Work. Sleep. Chores. Work. Sleep. Chores. Bills.  It's so easy to choose to stay home in the evening and watch the news, and mindless television.  It's so easy to not take part in activities around us, regardless of how mundane they may seem to be. 

It's mid June, and in Rochester, NY that means the Rochester International Jazz Festival.  First organized in 2002,  the nine day RIJF is steadily becoming a world class event.  Last year the festival attracted some 125,000 music lovers.  I never took notice of the festival until last year. And I love jazz music.  So last year I made a decision to attend a couple of performances each year going forward.  

From the music world the RIJF has headlined names such as Tony Bennett, Ravi Coltrane, Al Jarreau, Chick Corea, and Madeleine Peyroux.  Woody Allen,  George Benson, Dave Brubeck, Aretha Franklin, Nora Jones,  Etta James, and Oscar Peterson.  Oh my goodness, the list goes on and on!  

I cannot imagine why I was so wrapped up in my little proscribed world for those years.  It's also so easy to dismiss all this as mere celebrity worship, and there's way too much of that in this country. 

But this is different.  Music is different.  It stirs excitement.  It conjures up beautiful memories. Music electrifies the senses, teases our emotions.  Many forms of art do these things, but music takes us into other worlds, and sweetly banishes the mundane from our daily lives.  Attending a concert is often very emotional for me. (In a good way!)  Watching these artists perform their works live, works that we've listened to for many years, transcends celebrity:  It makes those musical legends real and intimate.  It makes us real and intimate. 

Last year I watched Boz Scaggs, Al Green, and jazz ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro.  So far this year I've seen Jake again, along with Austin, Texas blues guitarist Carolyn Wonderland. Just magnificent! 

So I'm including with this screed a couple of poems I wrote over the past few years relating to art and music.  

Go on!  Go out and see a concert!  It's so easy to sit in.  And it's so easy to open the paper or internet and find temporary contentment for the soul! 

Rick Baker 
Rochester, New York 
June 18, 2009 

sax crying 

jazz percolates 
the coffee shop. 
lend aroma 
to melodic 

of smooth days long vanished, 
of satin nights borne on romance, 
of cool lives whistled softly 

to a solo sax 
crying for night 
to never 

Poem © 2006 by R. Burnett Baker (From the 2007 chapbook  
"Manic Muse and Other Observations".) 
Sketched art by R. Baker.  
Photos and art   © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker

lyrics trump beat 
everytime in song 

they emote and commiserate 
with muses of music 
to live moments over and again,
to speak words in melody 
to offer meaning for life 

voices in harmony. 

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker 

all the world 

so much art 
in all the world 

painter a master 
writer a laureate 
musician a maestro 

each patron 
an insatiable hunger 

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker 

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