Being Callahan

I like to think that if my name was Callahan, a fifty-eight year old double bass player in a Jazz band, and I needed to do something for my fitness, but still wanted to feel cool, so I had chosen to go to a Jazz dancing class, although I was now doubting the wisdom of my plan, and I was currently standing in front of the Jazz dancing class building, trying to talk myself into going in, I would mutter something like this under my breath:

‘You promised you'd do something for your cardiovascular health. You promised. This is perfect. It's Jazz. It says so right in the name. Sure you've been playing Jazz for forty years now and never really seen any dancing, at least not anything that has a consistency that could be classed into a style or approach, but still, Jazz man, this must be run by some cool cats.

Ok, don't drop into clich├ęs now, you don't have to justify your Jazz credentials, have these guys played bass in a variety of bands in several cities, over the years to probably literally dozens of people? No you have. Just be yourself, do some Jazz dancing and you can Jazz up your sax appeal. Yeah, that's pretty smooth. I am a real Jazz dude, fuck, did I just say “Jazz 'dude”, no no no no, it's Jazz “cat”, why are you doubting your Jazz credentials, why are you censoring yourself, agghh this is Jazz hard.

You're Callahan for god’s sake. Just say your name when you get in, “I'm Callahan, I'm here for Jazz” and they'll probably hand the class over to you. “Oh my god, you're Callahan? The Callahan? From Frilly and the Gators? And the Buck Hampton Trio? THE CALLAHAN? From Lester’s Revenge? Oh my god!’ they'll probably say. “Oh yes, I've seen some things, thumbed some grooves, drank some bourbon with people most people think aren’t even real, only legends” you'll be able to say. “Oh I remember a night in Mobile Alabama, after a four week bender in New Orleans, where we said we were going to dry out, before ending up in the basement of this cat Gunter's establishment, where we went on a seven hour improvisation that had more than fourteen trombone solos, TROMBONE!” That’s the kind of story these folk all probably dream of hearing, and these are the exact type of stories you ooze.

Oh who are you fucking kidding? You're here because your doctor said “lose some weight, lay off the booze and maybe you'll still be here in five years”. But it's the lifestyle man. The lifestyle. I am Jazz, and Jazz isn't safe man, Jazz is reckless, Jazz is free, Jazz doesn't turn down a shot of whiskey just because he's already had a bottle, Jazz says yes, oh maybe your washboard players might say “not for me thanks, I don't want to lose control of my senses, the washboard don't play itself man” and then they have washboard abs. But those are the washboard guys, and they aren’t me.

It’s not like I chose bass. I didn't choose bass man, bass chose me man. Those cats were playing and I was playing harmonica, and then the bass player quit cause he didn't like the vibe man, and I picked it up and didn't look back man. That’s beauty man. That's romance man. That’s what it’s all about.

And now you're fat and it's your heart that doesn't like the vibe man. Well sometimes the vibe doesn’t feel right, you don’t have the groove in your heart, and the trumpet player has been stabbed in the parking lot over his last cigarette, but the show must go on. And because of that, I shall now dance’.


Wow, if my name was Callahan and I was a fifty-eight year old double bass player with arteries as blocked up as highway behind a brutal big-rig pile up, life would be sweet, I can just imagine it – fourteen trombone solos, that’s Jazz wow.

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