Tuesday, September 15, 2015

About a month ago my mother called me and said she was going to see Wynton Marsalis perform in Cleveland. As I have detailed in this blog many times before, my family and Wynton go way back to 1984. He was an up and coming trumpet player from New Orleans who learned the ways of the jazz Force via Art Blakey and the Messengers, and my brother and I were 9 and 6 years old respectively, just learning the ways and nuances of jazz. We took a picture, we bonded, and all was well.

Three years later my family moved to Maryland, and one Saturday four years after that, we went to Blues Alley in Georgetown and had a reunion with Wynton. He was there with his new and improved band, and I was a 15 year old trumpet player who played in both the jazz and marching bands. I brought my mouthpiece, Wynton let me play for him, we took more pictures, and he suggested that if I wanted to get better that I a) needed to practice every day and b) I needed to buy Bags Groove which was a Miles Davis album featuring Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and others. I practiced every day until I made the basketball team, at which point I promptly ditched the trumpet altogether (a decision I regret to this day). And I didn't buy Bags Groove until last summer, and it was damn good.

I fell out of contact with Wynton until 2009, when I noticed he was coming to the Kennedy Center. I reached out to his people, let them know my connection to Wynton, and they told me that I could come backstage after the show. Of course, the night he was scheduled to perform, I was also scheduled to cover a Wizards game. At that point, I was in my first season covering the team, and I was paranoid about missing any games, so I ditched Wynton (a decision I do NOT regret), and respectfully sent a email explaining my absence. His people reached out to me and said that my invitation was an open one, and I could come back the next time. I haven't been able to go to a show yet, but I will...hopefully.

So when my mom told me she was going to see Wynton in Cleveland, she asked me to put her in contact with the same folks I had contacted. It worked like a charm, and she got a chance to go backstage and she even took a picture:

While she was backstage she showed Wynton pictures of me, my family, my brother and his family etc. Wynton remembered that I played the trumpet, and my mother promptly told him that I had quit, but Wynton still wanted to talk to me. He took my mother's phone, sent me a text that said "Man, call me tomorrow". I didn't understand the text when I first got it, because it was from my mom's number, but she promptly called me and told me what I had happened. I was pumped.

Now, much like that scene from the movie Swingers, when the fellas were debating how long to call a woman after you get her number, I didn't know whether to call Wynton the very next day or wait. An immediate call would seem pressed, but waiting was just as dicey, because he meets 4000 people daily and he could forget about me and the conversation he had with moms. I called the next day around 4pm and the convo went like this:

Him: Hello?
Me: May I speak to Mr. Marsalis
Him: Yeah, who's this?
Me (slightly stuttering): This is Rashad Mobley, you met my mom last night
Him: Yeah I texted you last night on her phone, what's up man? Hey can you call me back?
Me: No problem when?
Him: Later today is cool
Me: no problem

He didn't hear me say no problem, because he had already hung up the phone. Maybe he had a lady in the room, but why would he answer the phone? I was slightly intimidated and disappointed, but I pressed on and called him around 5pm, but he didn't answer, so I left a brief message. A week later my mom suggested I call again because he's a busy man, but when I did, he answered, acknowledged that he knew me, and asked me to call back again. I called back and got voicemail. I sent a text last Monday as my final attempt, but to no avail. I ain't contacting that mfer again, and yes I'm salty.

I told my mother that Wynton was probably caught in the moment, and decided to text me that night because my mother is nice and persistent. But left to his own devices, Wynton probably doesn't give a good goddamn about me, unless he sees me at a show, and we can talk face to face. So the next time he comes to DC, I will commence to semi-stalking him once again. In the meantime, I still like his music, I'm still annoyed he hates hip hop, and I'm even more annoyed (but not surprised) about the cold shoulder. These things happen right?

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