Monthly Archives: August 2011

Violin Revolution

A man with gray hair looks at me as I walk by. Near him a group of young men stand around talking-nodding-smiling. The air is brisk and cold. It’s 10:30pm on a Monday, August in San Francisco. I plan to turn around soon and walk home.

As I pass by Revolution Cafe, I encounter the crowd spilling out on the sidewalk and the usual smell of cannabis. But there’s also a sharp and haunting sound which pierces through and rouses my curiosity. I walk up to the open door of the cafe where a packed room of people are concentrating on a group of musicians who are seated in the middle of the crowd: three men on violin, one man playing a base guitar and a fifth on clarinet.

Tempted by the music, I squeeze past the crowd to buy a sangria and find my way back again near the door. After playing musical chairs for about ten minutes, I find myself seated a foot away from one of the violin players. His hands move horizontally in a a wide arc. He’s half seated and half standing and moves his legs up and down as he plays. I keep an eye on his movements to make sure that I stay out of his way.

I can see the music sheets and the complex arrangement of music makes my head swim. I don’t recognize the music. It could be something by Beethoven. The adagio, a style of playing music slowly, soothes and relaxes.

I had decided to go on a walk to relax my agitated mind. The walk was good but the music adds a touch of enchantment that I carry with me as I leave after 3-4 more sets. I fall asleep easily when I come home to my bed.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 31, 2011 in adagio, classical, listening, sound, violin


jazz everywhere

I type in “jazz” in the books section of and the results range from works of fiction, history and theory of jazz, how to play jazz, books about jazz albums, photographs of jazz musicians, and more. I brows “Jazz” by Toni Morrison, a story of crimes of passion, and consider developing a blog based on the book. But will it really be about jazz and besides, it’s set in Harlem in New York city and I want to explore New Orleans’ jazz.

I decide that history of jazz is perhaps more appropriate and find a book that has several good reviews. It is named, appropriately enough, The History of Jazz. A quick look shows that the history starts in New Orleans.

So near and yet so far… all those years of growing up less than ten miles away from New Orleans and choosing to ignore jazz. Now that I’m living many miles away in San Francisco, I start my journey into the story of jazz, starting in New Orleans.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 8, 2011 in jazz, New Orleans, sound