Volume 7 / Chapter 224
John Steinbeck, famous for ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ was from Monterey peninsula, the oldest city in California. It has cliffs and sand dunes formed through waves and winds and a coast covered in rocks.
Monterey once flourished but traces of it can only be found in museums. Now, it is only a symbol of John Steinbeck and the 3 day 2 night jazz festival.
The jazz festival opens at Monterey Fairgrounds on a total of 8 stages with more than 500 famous jazz artists participating from Friday night at 6 to midnight and over the weekend from 11 in the morning to midnight. They offer soul-stealing melodies for almost 12 hours.
2 jazz greats were having a glass of wine early in the morning in a studio in LA, in order to participate in the festival.
“Trust me. You can just leave it to where Jun’s piano leads. Then, I’m telling you that time passes really quickly.”
“It’s to that point? Listening to the album, it felt like it was your bass that was leading the music.”
“That’s the really fascinating thing about it. When you play with Jun, you lose a sense of who is leading whom. And when you look at him, you can tell that he’s forgetting where he is and is just lost in the music.”
Stanley Clarke recalled the day that he spent a great time lost in jazz with Jun Hyuk.
“But, look at the result. I was the only one running with it and Jun’s piano matched the balance perfectly.”
“Isn’t he the type to calculate everything when he performs? Like me?”
Lee Carlton is a fusion jazz musician who mixes rock into his music, rather than playing traditional free jazz. His style was to add a little improv into completed music rather than performing in improv. So, he plays music that is easy for anyone to fall for, even those who are not jazz fanatics.
“No. Jun told me after we played that he tasted the first peak moments.”
“Then, does that mean his ears are just open? Regardless of his will?”
“He isn’t called a genius for nothing. Honestly, no matter how others call us genius musicians, we know. We laid our abilities as a base and got here through effort. But that’s not
the case for Jun. Every single cell in his body is made with talent.” Stanley Clarke kept praising Jun Hyuk.
“Anyway, do as I say. Jun will bring out the potential in you that you didn’t even know about.”
As the two men slowly got drunk, Jun Hyuk opened the studio door and stuck his head
“Oh my God! Jun!”
Stanley Clarke put his wine glass down and hugged Jun Hyuk.
“It’s been a really long time, hasn’t it? Every time I performed in New York, you were abroad.”
“Is that so? Are you sure you didn’t come when I wasn’t there on purpose? Ha ha.”
They have only met once but shared a precious experience that left them as though they are friends forever, so there are no walls of skin color, age, knowledge, or meetings between the two of them.
“When did you get here? You should have called in advance.”
“I just got here. I’m coming here directly from the airport.”
Stanley Clarke was so glad to see Jun Hyuk again that he forgot Lee Carlton was next to him. When he saw Jun Hyuk smile as he saw Lee Carlton approaching them, he snapped his finger as he spoke,
“Oh right. Look at me. It’s the first time you two are meeting, right?”
“Mr. Carlton, it’s an honor.”
Lee Carlton took the hand that Jun Hyuk held out to him and shook it.
“Leave the Mr. out. You can just call me Lee. Is it okay if I just call you Jun? Or do I have to say Maestro Jun? Ha ha.”
Jun Hyuk remembered the picture on the album cover he released 25 years ago. A gentle, manly, and handsome young man has become a middle aged man with thinned out blonde hair.
Stanley Clarke handed Jun Hyuk a glass of wine as well, and complimented him on all of his accomplishments since the last time they saw each other.
“I felt like a fool because I had been so happy thinking that the next jazz god had appeared. I almost pushed Beethoven to go on the path of jazz. It’s a good thing we haven’t met since that day.”
“The most thrill I felt while in the U.S. was when I was performing with you. I didn’t even get that feeling when I was conducting the New York Philharmonic.”
“Really? Then, let’s forget all of this about being a maestro and go on a playing tour with me. What do you think?”
“Well… You don’t know me yet. Both are possible. He he.”
“What? You lost all of your modesty ever since you picked up a baton? Ha ha.”
The 3 of them joked around and kept drinking wine. When the new bottle of wine was about to be empty, they started discussing the performance approaching them.
“You know the performance schedule?”
“Yes. From Saturday at 5 in the afternoon. I heard that it’s an hour and a half. Did you decide on a repertoire?”
“No, not yet. We waited to pick with you.”
Lee Carlton looked at Jun Hyuk, who was a little flushed because of the alcohol.
“Is there something you like about my music?”
“I didn’t hear everything to the live performances, but I know everything that was released in an album. I did watch the live performances that weren’t included on albums through
YouTube, but not all of them. Anyway, I don’t know if I can ask this, but I would like to perform
Early A.M. Attitude and Room with you.”
Jun Hyuk said the 2 songs he likes most out of Lee Carlton’s.
“Of course, it’s okay. Those 2 songs can be played on the piano too. Your piano will make them shine.”
“Oh right. I should have told you in advance, but I wanted to play the guitar this time instead of the piano. What do you think?”
“Right. I was forgetting that Jun’s great at the guitar too. Ha ha.”
Lee Carlton was surprised by mention of Jun Hyuk’s guitar, but Stanley Clarke cut in.
After making the decision to play the guitar, Jun Hyuk also worked with the men to select their repertoire. Stanley Clarke and Lee Carlton wanted to arrange the songs on Jun Hyuk’s rock tribute album, but Jun Hyuk shook his head.
“I decided to participate in this festival because I wanted to perform your songs. I don’t want to arrange my songs and perform them.”
They chose 8 of the two greats’ songs and then decided on the order. And they also planned to play more than 6 songs at the least even if the improv performance got too long.
“Then, shall we do 2 songs lightly? It’ll give us a chance to listen to your guitar. That’s okay, right?”
Lee Carlton felt rushed because he wanted to hurry up and hear this young genius’ music.
“I’m always up for it.”
“Let’s go really lightly. It’s hard to even hold up my guitar because I feel drunk.”
Stanley Clarke made a fuss as he put the heavy bass on his shoulder. Jun Hyuk picked the Gibson of the guitars laying around the studio, and started tuning it.
Stanley Clarke’s bass guitar started dinging and a light guitar riff came from Lee Carlton’s guitar for the first song, Room 335.
When they were done playing Room 335, the alcohol almost completely wore off from Lee Carlton, Stanley Clarke, and the drummer was hiding the sweat on his forehead.
Even though the drummer who will be performing with them is a skilled drummer who has a great sense of rhythm and a sturdy foundation, he felt like they had played for over an hour when they had just played one song.
The drummer looked down at his watch and understood why he felt like that. 25 minutes had flashed before their eyes.
Stanley Clarke shook his head and laughed, but Lee Carlton looked blank like the drummer.
Jun Hyuk alone looked refreshed as he drank water.
“Lee. You know what I meant before? Whew…..”
Lee Carlton did not hear Stanley Clarke’s words. He had only one thought since they finished playing.
The title of the album that Stanley Clarke recorded with Jun Hyuk.
The First did not indicate the first time they met, or their anticipation for the next meeting.
Pleasure regarding music that they experienced for the first time. That is what the title is showing.
He has never played like this before. Pleasure of jazz? Spontaneity of improvisation? Unity of a perfect ensemble? He has seen this before. He would not be considered a jazz great or legend if he had not had such experiences.
But the pleasure he just experienced while playing with Jun Hyuk is a different kind of pleasure.
A feast of endless melodies.
What would this kind of melody be like? Should we try a melody like this? It had felt like someone was whispering things like this into his ear. New phrases, melodies, and fun codes kept buzzing around his head. Lee Carlton only picked at his guitar strings as he thought of it.
When the melody inside his head stopped, 25 minutes had passed.
Stanley Clarke put the bass guitar down, plopped down on the sofa, and lit a cigar.
He took a long pull, let out white smoke, and looked at Lee Carlton standing in front of him.
“What are you doing? You want to do another song? Then, you two do it. I’m so tired I can’t.”
Lee Carlton finally came to his senses and leaned on the sofa.
“At this rate, we won’t be able to do 3 songs, much less 6.”
“It’s hard during the performance. They could at least appreciate it if it’s an indoor performance. It’s outside though… The audience will be so tired that they fall away first.” The drummer had not said much until now, but spoke up cautiously.
“I don’t think that this kind of performance is fitting for a stage either.”
Jun Hyuk put down his guitar as well, and agreed with the drummer’s opinion.
“Then, let’s try playing together again after adjusting our conditions. We’ll figure out when to cut the 8 songs too.”
Stanley Clarke had just been looking at Lee Carlton, and looked to Jun Hyuk.
“Jun, you must be tired from flying. What do you think about going to your hotel to rest?
Let’s really have a drink after rehearsals tomorrow.”
Stanley Clarke laughed as he winked, and Jun Hyuk nodded.
“Yes. Then I’ll come back at noon tomorrow. You should both get a lot of rest too.”
Lee Carlton could not shake the shock so much that he did not hear Jun Hyuk or realize that he left. Stanley Clarke watched him as he lit a cigarette and handed it over.
He took 2 puffs and let the rest burn before he finally snapped out of his blank state.
“Stanley. Is this the talent that you were talking about? That he can find balance perfectly?”
“No. It wasn’t to this point when we were recording together. He changed a lot in the time we haven’t seen each other. Ah, is it because of his experience conducting an orchestra?”
“Stanley. I’m not thinking wrong, am I? That kid Jun just dragged us around and made us play, right?”
“Of course. Was there ever a time it was like this when it was just the two of us playing?
There’s an instantaneous change when Jun joins us. Then it’s because of Jun.”
It is not something he wants to believe, but it has already happened and his whole body remembers it. It is not something that he can deny.
“How is this possible? Letting the people he is playing with the melody… no, he made us realize it. I can’t believe it.”
Stanley Clarke only smoked the cigar, and did not respond. He wanted to give a refreshing response if he could explain it. But even if he knew what has happened, he does not know how to explain it.
“There’s one thing that’s certain. Jun conducted the 3 of us as though conducting an orchestra. He showed us how to play and how to progress. Jun’s guitar melody was the baton.
We just played the way he told us to.”
“Is that possible? Is it possible for a song that we haven’t practiced before with new melodies and phrases that we don’t know and were just brought out?”
“Why are you asking me that? You experienced it for yourself. And… I told you, didn’t I? That he would bring out the potential in you that you didn’t even know about. Of course I didn’t know that we’d be able to prove what I said so soon.”
Stanley Clarke could not hide his dazed expression either. A few years ago, Jun Hyuk was a young pianist with tremendous talent. Now, though, he has become an unimaginable monster.