An erhu player and a tuba player at a party said "Let's jam"

Abby and I attended a music potluck party tonight. We had been unsure about whether to attend, since I do have the Great Race 10K to run tomorrow and need to avoid staying up too late. So we went with the understanding that we would leave early as needed, in order for me to wind down at home and go to bed.


I whipped up a large batch of roasted vegetables to bring to the potluck:

Roasted vegetables


After a lot of eating and chatting, Mimi was ready to start jamming, and got out her erhu. A guy who had brought a tuba was ready to play.

OK, who else was in?

I pulled out my flute. Abby took out her mandolin. It seemed like nobody else (yet) was interested in joining in. (But as we know, the party usually really gets going later in the evening when musicians are involved.)

The tuba player seemed really into jazz. He asked for requests and started his own rhythmic bass sometimes. I tried to join in with him and Mimi as they led the way. It was pretty hard for me, and frightening, but I did what I could to contribute.

At one point, I volunteered to sing and play “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?” on ukulele, which I did (for the first time by myself outside home), and they followed along. I don’t know if that was the first time an erhu, tuba, and ukulele were in action simultaneously!?

Lending my flute out

At some point, a guy arrived at the party who wanted to jam. He hadn’t yet brought in his trombone, but asked if he could borrow my flute. I recognized him from previous parties, and I had seen him play flute in at least one of them.

So he borrowed my flute and I sat back and watched and listened. He was a really good improviser. Actually, at the suggestion of the tuba player, who really liked totally free improvisation, the three of them did something I found amazing and beautiful. Starting with some long tones, they created an eerie sonic soundscape together, listening to one another while blending the erhu, tuba, and flute. I was really moved by this display of musicality and feeling.

Leaving early

Abby noted that it was getting “late” for us, and so we regrettably had to leave. Guests were still coming in and bringing food, even though those of us who had arrived early had filled our stomachs long ago. I got my flute back and packed up.


It is always a special treat for me when I get to hang around creative, accomplished musicians and get to see them make music spontaneously. I’m usually too intimidated in these kinds of situations to join in, but I did briefly tonight.

(Update of 2013-11-06)

I was surprised and saddened to learn from Mimi that just a couple of days ago, the man who had borrowed my flute and played so beautifully, David Olson, died. Even in the brief time that I interacted with him at all, just in a handful of music parties, I was struck by his enthusiasm, humor, and graciousness. It is hard to believe that he is gone now, just a month since he was playing my flute. RIP, David.

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