There are only two people in the band who are under 70, and one is my son. He plays third trumpet, and watches the bandleader and the first trumpet for signals. You’d think he’d been doing this forever. Swapping out mutes, keeping time with his foot.
The first trumpet is 90. During the break, he tells me my kid is an exceptional young man. He shakes my hand as though we’d both been in the navy, and almost doesn’t glance at my tattoos.
“You’re counting two, but it’s written in 4!” the saxophone player had hollered at him during the first set.
“It’s written in 4, but you feel Dixie in 2.”
Yeah, bub. You feel Dixie in 2.
These old dudes can swing. And the kid, too. He can swing like a beast. He’ll be playing in his room, and shout out, “Do you know that one? Can you name it?”
And when I do, he’ll come to the threshold of his room, and say, “Do you know the lyrics?”
And when I start to sing them, he’ll join me. Yeah, kid, I grew up with swing. Jazz and blues and Dixieland. We could all agree on dance music. Marches. Waltzes. I used to Waltz in my room with my teddy bears.
“Have you heard of this song, Moon River?” he asks me. “It’s so beautiful.”
I start singing the lyrics and his face brightens. He sings, too. I mangle a couple of them. “You need practice,” he says.
I do. I need practice. And it’s all I can do not to dance during his. You feel it in two!
They tell him what he’ll need for the gig. “Do you have, by any chance, a maroon jacket? Or red? A red or maroon jacket?”
“I think maybe if you just wear a white shirt, black tie, and black pants, you’ll be fine. Yes. Let’s do that. As long as you have the white shirt, black tie, and black pants, there’s no need for the maroon jacket. Or the red one.”
“Oh, good,” the kid says.
His first Jazz uniform. His first gig. With his first solos. Swing kid!