mercredi, mai 10, 2006

06.05.10: Marva: à contre-courant

The first time I heard Marva Wright was in New Orleans, Christmas night, 2000. The stock market was at an all-time high, 9/11 was nine months in the future, Iraq was a fading memory from 1991, gasoline pump prices were $1.65 a gallon, and we were 6 days away from the dawn of the 21st century.

Having said all that, Marva sang the blues. In the face of so much optimism, in a smoke-filled room, packed with Bud bottles and voo-doo scents, accompanied by Henry Butler, Marva made us forget all that there was to celebrate, and instead feel, deep in the core of shared memory, the omniscience of pain. It was a moment, an evening, not to forget.

I caught up with Marva again this week. This time in St-Sulpice, Paris's largest church (and, thanks to the DaVinci Code, perhaps currently the most famous) on a chilly, drizzly spring evening to kick off the St-Germain des Prés Jazz Festival. (Metro 4) This time accompanied by Lucky Peterson on the organ and the London Community Gospel Choir. Now, we are post-9/11. Diesel pump prices are 1€15 per litre. The S&P500 e-bubble is seen for what it was. The CPE and Clearstream scandal have infected local politics and policy. Iraq is no longer a fading memory, but a constant reminder of how the misperceptions of the few can result in the adverse reality of the many. And Katrina dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of the Gulf of Mexico on FunkyButt's, where I last saw Marva in the Ramparts.

Having said all that, Marva and the congregation pumped out some gospel to carry the message that hope is omnipresent. Lucky, in solo, softly playing the organ, proposed the most heartfelt version of A Change is Gonna Come. Everyone believed. Marva's At Last was right on time.

Marva the contrarian. She gots the goods. I think the rain is letting up.