The way to tell good jazz is that you don’t notice him till the song’s ‘most over. Good jazz sneaks up behind you and pulls down your shorts and then drinks your beer when you to turn to see what’s happening. You stumble and fall, wondering who did the dirty deed, and you look back, but you sure it couldn’t be jazz, ‘cause he sitting yonder in the corner, cleaning his horn and minding his own damned business. That foam on his mouth just blow back from the spit valve.
Good jazz hangs outside the club, under a tattered awning as the rain soaks up the oil from the day’s toil, leaning against the brick wall. He’s out there, cool as fuck in his shades, smoking a shorty and minding his game. Good jazz sees you, and exhales a thin cloud, and says, “What’s up?”
You get excited, seeing his axe and hoping he might play you a bit, but he don’t play, ’cause the music is him. He don’t need to play that horn; good jazz gonna play you instead. You stand next to him, quiet as all get out, listenin’ to his stories and trying to remember the words. But good jazz don’t need no words to tell his stories.
Sometimes, good jazz ain’t a he at all, and when that happens, it’s special, ‘cause you know damn well that bad jazz be trying to keep good jazz locked up all night. You can find bad jazz anytime. He sit in the back of clubs, wearing shiny shoes and a too-tight suit, blowing sour notes from his horn and making a ruckus. You ask bad jazz to chill so you can hear good jazz blowing and singing outside, but he don’t shut up.
Bad jazz always wants attention.
Good jazz, though, good jazz he just play and whisper. He don’t write down the notes and she don’t sing the song the same way twice, but that just bring you back. Good jazz don’t color in the lines, ‘cause the lines remind him too much of prison cells or dirty, smoky nights in the monochrome city with just a needle to keep him company. Good jazz would rather be outside, playing with his girl, sexing her something good, and letting you listen, long as you keep your eyes closed.
Good jazz don’t never seem to stay in the club long, but that’s okay. Better out than in anyway, right?