Sad….. one of my musical collaborators, Andre St James,  from my Portland days has passed. Liver cancer.    Got the call from a fellow Texan, that Andre introduced me to, that he died last night. 

It’s not that death isn’t a part of things or that we’re all worm food at some point.  It’s the breaking of the news.  I’m already an emotional guy.  And this was someone I was fond of.  I enjoyed making music with him. I enjoyed writing with him.  I enjoyed hanging out, telling jokes, talking shit, and being a dorky-ass musician. 

He was a good man. The kind of guy who would take his time and give it to anyone.  Because that’s the kind of guy he was.  And he had an interesting and legit jazz life.  It was a pleasure for me to have him on so many shows.   Even my wife has fond stories of him.    On my 40th birthday, he and I were supposed to be writing tunes at Reed College for a Poetry and Jazz concert series that I was producing.   Unbeknownst to me, my wife had  called him and told him that she was throwing a surprise birthday party for me and got him in on it to waste just enough  time to keep me gone and then kick me out of his studio to get back to the party.    I remember going in there and he packs his bass up in his bag and stacks it in the corner.  I’m looking at him like, “Dude… we’ve got a couple hours of work here to do.”  He’s all cool as a cucumber, looking at me like I have no clue, which I didn’t.  And strings me along and then is like, “Hey man, I gotta go…”

Had this been anyone else, I would have lost my shit on them…but I worked with him so much and brought him into some pretty interesting things.  And there’s how he was as a human.  I was like, okay… I guess that’s it, we’ll wing it.   And when I went home and saw what my wife had done for me, my first thoughts were how gracious Andre was in handling me and getting me back home for this.

The thing about his passing and the impact it has on me: 

I’m not fond of Portland.  It was an unkind and unpleasant place for a man like me.   The problem with places like that is they tend to fuck up all the good things that happen and the handful of good people you meet.    And I did some really cool things with a lot of very talented and hard-working players.   Andre’s death brings a lot of them back to mind.  Of course, it’s mixed memories, but softened with time.  Although the more I think about it, the less soft it gets. 

 I don’t really have a grand point here… just that I’m sad he’s gone and sad I didn’t speak with him recently.    Although I’m very glad we stayed in touch and glad to have known and worked with him.  The briefest moments we share with people…