Early morning blue…the band stops swinging but the bass player doesn’t notice. Low, thumping vibes sing out of the upright strings, even time, four-four, walkin’ in a minor key with no particular place to go. The drummer’s out cold; a few too many slugs of the cheap stuff. I put my horn down on the bar. The chick on the other side smiles with tired eyes. The hazy night is coming to a dark close for her too, but not just yet.
She slides me a double Johnny Black on ice, built just right. I can barely see her through the smoke and Bourbon. The drink goes down hot like smooth electric and I feel it infiltrate my veins, my head. I’m ready to call it a night.
But the bass lingers, thumping steady, slow, mean. My man is in a groove. I’m hip, I’ve been there, don’t want to stop, can’t stop, gotta keep on playin’ til it’s all played out. Sometimes for hours, sometimes days.
The cat’s riff is intoxicating. It mixes with the Scotch in my head and I get the bug. The horn comes off the bar. The bartender throws a sigh; she knows she’s cruising home alone tonight. Four a.m. Harlem Nocturn. I start to play…