Unbelievable, but not surprising

In a club in Brooklyn, basement room, ceiling painted black, beer glass in hand nodding to my friends’ son’s band as they put on their show.  Their kid is the drummer, the youngest in the band, and a hell of a talented drummer.   He’s more interested in keyboards these days, which he tickles with great intuitive fluency.  You’d never know the guy wasn’t, in fact, a years’ trained jazz pianist, except that he has little idea of what notes he’s playing, what key he’s in, what extended chord he’s playing wild, fluid arpeggios of.

“He never plays drums anymore,” his father says sadly at one point.

After their first energetic tune the bandleader introduces the virtuoso on keyboards and the guy playing the baritone sax, also a virtuosic player.   The bandleader is flushed, happy, does not turn around to look at or introduce his drummer.  I watch the kid’s face take on a hurt cast behind the drums, clearly unhappy to be ignored after playing his ass off with the rest of the band.  As anyone would be.

As the next tune starts up I say directly into his mother’s ear-plugged ear: “Did you see David’s face when Noah didn’t introduce him?”  Surprisingly she hadn’t, but she was not happy about it now.  “I almost shouted out ‘who’s that fucking drummer?'” I told her and she shouted back “you should have!”

The show went on, the band was great, interactive, taking cues from each other to propel new improvisations.   They were jamming on a very high level.  

Suddenly the bass, keyboard and sax fell silent and David began hammering at the drums, every drum, from every conceivable angle, a great outpouring of raw emotion executed with titanic force and tightrope walker assurance.  He wailed on that drum kit in front of the brick wall for a good long while and I don’t really know that words can describe it.  

The band around him seemed stunned, even knowing very well how good their drummer is.  That brick wall behind him was reduced to a pile of rubble by the time the amazed band joined him.   He had literally brought the house down.  

Right before he began to play again, the bass player, smiling ecstatically, extended his arm and called out “David Resnick!” to a raucous standing ovation (although all applause was of necessity a standing ovation, since there were no seats in the room).

“I’ve never heard him do anything like that,” his father yelled as the fans roared.  

Later the kid quietly said “I’ve never done anything like that before.”  

I thought to myself later that what he’d done was the most beautiful possible way to deal with being ignored– do something absolutely fucking unignorable.

His father said “imagine if he practiced drums…” and I told him it was unimaginable.  Then I said what I really felt, and said it again a few times in the car later, to impress it on the young drummer as well as his parents.

“Unbelievable,” and I paused and held up a finger “but not surprising.”  I repeated it a couple more times for good measure, before dashing out of the car into the drenching thunderstorm.

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