Excerpt - from "The Jazz Guitarist"
The chapter is set in an old fashioned coffee house not far from Mr. Kubadi’s studio. Richard often stops there after his lesson. On this particular occasion, Sara, Richard’s future wife and also a student of Mr. Kubadi, is waitressing and introduces Richard to a jazz guitarist, Jobe Maker, who has just played a set. It turns out that Jobe had been a student of Mr. Kubadi as well and had studied classical guitar with him when he was a child, but then went on to follow a career in jazz. In this quote Jobe is telling Sara and Richard about the day he spoke to his teacher about jazz.
“And so the next day was my scheduled lesson with Mr. Kubadi. I arrived at his apartment as usual and was prepared, as always, to demonstrate my work, but after I tuned my guitar and arranged my music on the stand, he asked me a different question than his usual inquiry. He asked me what had been my most significant musical experience of the week.”
“The question shocked me, though whatever uncanny perception had elicited it was, of course, no surprise. Neither was the full attention he focused on me as I told him the entire story. ‘Jazz,’ he repeated when I had finished, ‘do you know the origin of the term?’ I shook my head. ‘It comes from an old Persian word pronounced jazd. It signifies a state of enchantment that certain pilgrims experience along their spiritual journey. It occurs in the heavens of the higher planes of consciousness. Experiencing such inexpressible bliss, the pilgrim wishes for nothing else but to remain in that state forever. The pilgrim is said to be jazd. The term migrated to the west through the work of some nineteenth and early twentieth-century English scholars and poets, who had become enamored by the philosophical and poetic writings of early Persian writers. Edward Fitzgerald rendered into verse the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, teacher of A.J. Arberry, was considered to be the supreme interpreter of Jalal al-Din Rumi.’”
“I am familiar with the Rubaiyat,” I said. “I read it in school, but I have never heard of the other writer.”
“‘Jalal al-Din Rumi,’ he repeated the name slowly. ‘Read his Discourses, translated by Arberry, and your life will be changed forever.’”
“Did you ever read it?” Sara asked.
“Of course. Mr. Kubadi never made flippant remarks. If he told me a book would change my life, then he knew for certain it would.”
“Yes, Sara, it made me fall in love with love and that has changed my life forever.”
“Will you spell the author’s name for me?” I asked as I retrieved my journal from my bag.
“Do you wish to fall in love with love?” Sara asked.
“Truly, Sara, I don’t know anything at all about love.”
“We are all beggars at the table of love,” Jobe replied.
Sara breathed a deep sigh and for a timeless moment, we all just dwelled in a silence saturated with unspeakable meaning and beauty.
We stayed until Art was ready to close. Jobe continued his story. Mr. Kubadi had told him that although each one’s destiny is written upon their soul, the mind shrouds truth in mystery. Life unfolds that mystery and it was now time for Jobe to make a bold decision.
“I know,” said Jobe. “This experience I had leaves me no other alternative but to follow the path of this mystery.”
“‘I am not a jazz musician and cannot lead you where you wish to go,’ Mr. Kubadi replied, ‘but there is a bond between us and it can never be broken.’ He then motioned in the direction of a large tapestry hanging on the wall near the bookshelves — is it still there?” Sara and I both nodded.
“‘Look at the colors,’ he said, ‘how they appear and disappear on the front of the tapestry, yet if you turn it around you see that the threads continue to exist — unbroken. As with the tapestry, so too in the greater reality of relationship is revealed the continuous and unbroken threads that intertwine the patterns of our lives.’”
While Jobe packed up his equipment and Sara finished up her work, I returned to my journal and reread the comments on my lesson. Somehow the ideas and the conversation with Jobe and Sara seemed to merge as I pondered the thought that in destiny there is no coincidence.
Sara and Jobe were standing at the table.
“Yes,” I said as I quickly closed up my journal and scrambled to my feet.
“I was thinking you may have become jazd,” Sara kidded.
“I really enjoyed listening to you tonight,” I said to Jobe, “both your wonderful guitar and your incredible story.”
“Thank you, and I yours as well. Perhaps next time Sara will share her story too?”
“My story?” she replied, as we began moving to door. “All I can think to tell you is that my relationship with Mr. Kubadi has given me the permission to do my work.”
“The permission to do your work!” Jobe and I repeated in unison as we pushed open the heavy wooden door and stepped out into the cold night air.
Richard walked me to the subway station that night and rode with me to my stop. He even insisted, as much as Richard ever insisted, on walking me home. It was a very chilly night and I asked if he would like to come up to my place for a while. I knew he really wanted to but he demurred — that time.
— Sara Kyle