A fringe of hair hangs over the forty-two string Pikaso guitar created by the Canadian luthier Linda Manzer that came by it’s name due to the instrument’s likeness to Picasso’s cubist works. It is a harp guitar with four necks, two sound holes, and the amazing forty two strings. In the dreamy, meditative melody I hear the harp, the sitar, and more. Specially designed for Pat Metheny, Manzer has created twenty-five other instruments for this man with the wild head of hair leaning over his guitar absorbed in the music he creates.
I am not much of a jazz fan but this music makes me want to sit in front of a roaring fire, practice yoga in the desert, sleep in a bedroom with an open window and a cool breeze, or smoke a joint and have a tall thin Black man play me like a cello. An instrument Ron Carter also beats like a drum.
A tall thin man, Ron walked out the front door of the Manor House earlier in the evening with a bounce in his step that belied his seventy-eight years, appearing to leap into life and the night ahead with the joyfulness of a young child skipping down a sidewalk.
He and Pat Metheny are staying with us for two nights and we are walking on Cloud Nine.
A day earlier Carolyn Chrzon, the master electrician, and David Oakes who works the soundboard checked in. They travel in a small white van with twelve guitars and one very large double bass. Carolyn is a Rhode Island girl and so are my other two guests for the night. Connie is a woman I met through the magic of the Internet, a fellow Rhode Island author and now a friend. She is here with her husband Tony.
Carolyn met Pat Metheny in Providence in the early 80’s when she was the head electrician at the Trinity Repertory Theater. He was playing at a small club and they’ve been working together ever since. Later in the month they’re headed to Tokyo and Europe. She’s lived a life on the road that to me sounds wonderful and exciting.
We had invited the former innkeeper to dinner the night of the first show. Carolyn called from Infinity Hall at six to say she comped us two tickets, front row mezzanine. We had just enough time to grill steaks and drink wine but then we had to run out the door. Patty and Michael understood how rarely the innkeepers get to see the shows and at $75 a ticket before fees it’s a bit beyond an innkeepers’ salary so they shooed us away and cleaned up after us.
In between songs, Carolyn anticipates Pat’s needs. She sneaks up behind him, stoops low, hustling to replace the guitars and plug them in then crouches back offstage as if she is on a reconnaissance mission in the jungle.
Ron and Pat are improvising this evening, speaking to each other with their instruments. Music on the fly, making it up as they go along. I am reminded of a time when I worked in a cubicle and a young girl named Neesha, another accountant who dreamed of being a writer, wrote sentences then passed them off to me via instant messaging. We were collaborating on a story to pass the time during our boring days. It’s not that easy to collaborate on a creative endeavor but these amazing musicians were in perfect harmony.
Ron Carter is the second most recorded jazz bassist in history and was a member of the Miles Davis Quintet which also included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams. He is one cool dude on stage, his long fingers – the pointer and the middle finger- pluck and caress the strings so subtly it looks like anyone could play the double bass but when you close your eyes and listen you know it’s a special magic that only pure talent can create.
At breakfast the next morning he orders two eggs scrabbled soft, French toast, fruit, and apple smoked bacon. Like the truck driver’s special at an Interstate diner we call it the Double Bass Breakfast. Pat slept in the first morning. He has three young children at home and is savoring a late morning in a four poster king size bed. The second morning he joins everyone at breakfast and apologetically tells us he is on some kind of diet, he’s not sure what it’s called but he’s not eating white food. We serve him a large bowl of fruit, Canadian bacon, the apple smoked bacon, and a side of another kind of ham we use for the omelets.
This is everyone’s first time staying at a bed and breakfast and although this town in the Litchfield Hills is only 1,230 feet above sea level Ron contemplates “who needs weed when you’re up this high.” He is enthralled with the large fireplace and the four foot logs. His wife loves a good fire and Rich walks him around the yard showing him the wood piles that he photographs to send to his wife in Brooklyn.
We all gather in the driveway for a photo-op and Rich helps Ron with his luggage. He asks for our email address and phone number. Rich and Ron have made plans for a future wood delivery to New York City. Ron’s wife liked the pictures of the woodpile and he says they have room for a half a cord on the back patio. Apparently there is a firewood mission in our future.
Here is more music for a Sunday morning: