I was tastefully accompanied by the celebrated local talents Sander on fretless Fender bass, Malcolm on mandolin, and Ron playing percussion. We played together like angels.
After the gig, the kids from Minnesota thanked me and said “it was real good.” My son said it was unbelievable.
The two seven-year-olds had fallen asleep on their auntie; they had a long day and the water park and they’re on vacation and their days are active. The ten-year-old helped me with Havdalah. As she held the candle, I mentioned that her future love partner will be as tall as she held the candle so she raised it up over her head and looked like the lady in the harbor the statue of liberty for the duration of the ceremony. They are Rosie, Robert, and Taylor. I hadn’t expected I would meet them – they were staying in the same place I stayed – they were unexpected and when we left I told them they were bonus kids.
When I woke up the morning Jake and I left, they had put up a sign with balloons around it they made in the kitchen: “We will miss you Jimmy and Jake.” I took pictures and told them the penguin joke. They asked me to tell it again but I declined. We headed out early.
At the gig the night before my voice released without reservation, though it was 100 degrees outside at 8 PM and the air conditioning was blowing directly over me. Once I acclimated my voice opened up and I had complete control, I hadn’t sung much lately since I had been ill, but a sound I had never made before – a kind of hitch or crack in my voice that poised on the edge of disaster but returned to purity, perched there perched there like the duchifat the hoopoe the national bird I read about in the Torah that morning – what is this sound, I thought. I had never heard it before, not in my own voice for sure nor to my recollection in anyone else’s voice, never knew it existed this sound; I repeated it many times during the successive verses of the song where it appeared.
It was a kind of New Age kretch. The kretch is a Yiddish term for what the old schmaltz-a-dicke cantors used to do that is part wail, part pure emotion, it also appears in the instrumentation of klezmer. It was as close as I have ever come to the vocal wail I know from my Daddy’s old chazzanut records.
My voice always surprises me; it’s the direct relation between mind, spirit, and physicality. The voice is pure spirit expressing itself through body. I have never experienced this in playing an instrument but many times in singing. It’s why almost every culture considers singing the highest form of music and how all our instruments are designed to approximate in some way the human voice. It’s no-thought; spontaneous, revelational, Within and Without si-mul-ta-ne-ous-ly.
My voice on this trip has been too strong for microphones and last night that sound I had never heard – part sob part triumph – an abstract expression of deep ambiguity arrived.
Once I recorded an entire album live in a voice that existed for one night; the night of the recording. The mystery of voice.
I received voice from my father – a complete natural. Daddy – I have received your gift and it is working me now, working me good, turning me inside out.
The inner life will always surprise you, I hear him saying.