Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Death of a Local Jazz Great

Wayne Christiansen was killed in a car crash on his way home from the Jazz Festival.  He was a monster talent.  He was a great pianist and composer.  I knew him from the time Tom Burton and I lived together up Emigration Canyon.  They played together for awhile.  They'd played together in the 60s at The Quarter Note.  It was the only bar in town where you could go almost every night and hear really good Jazz.  David Harrison owned it at the time.  Wayne was one of the few musicians I really liked personally.  I know that sounds harsh, but harshness seems to be what I'm left with.  My last encounter with Wayne was at a small club on State Street.  It was a complete surprise to find him there, and I went up during a break to say Hi and to make a request.  I asked him to play Round Midnight.  And he did.  If I were anyone else in the world I would have said, "Thank you, that was lovely."  But I'm not that nice a person.  I wanted the classic Round Midnight and I got a virtuoso bebop version instead.  It was a great deal more than I deserved.  But my reaction to it was to give him shit about overdoing the virtuosity.  It was the last time I saw him.

David Harrison just called to tell me, and to ask for Tom Burton's phone number.  And it shocks me how careless I've been with every man I've ever known.  I no longer have a way to get in touch with Tom.  But I gave him Pat Zwick's numbers (another man I've finally completely alienated with my anger). Pat will know how to get in touch with him. There will be a memorial for Wayne, and I've been told when and where to go. And then there will be The Bastille Day Reunion.  I won't be able to go to either event.  There are men from my past who I want to avoid and for perfectly good reasons, not just because I'm bipolar and careless with my insults.  But I have been unforgivably careless of Tom's feelings and for that too, I'm sorry.  To bad I won't have the chance to make amends for my past bad behavior, but any contact with people with whom I've had a long relationship and have bailed on, is another opportunity for me to be cruel and careless, or to be hurt again myself.  I'm a coward when it comes to close quarters with the past.  It's been too painful.  And much of that pain has been self inflicted.

So, goodbye Wayne.  I'm so sorry I was so awful.  And I waited too long to tell you.