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Falling In Love Supreme: Carl Watanabe Recounts Buying His First Jazz Album


When I was at San Francisco State University, I shared a place on Levant Street, just off Twin Peaks. Fay Roy, the guy who rented the house, was part of the jazz scene. He invited Roland Kirk and his wife Dorthann over for dinner, and later, we went to the Jazz Workshop on Broadway, to see Roland Kirk’s band play.

Kirk was known for being able to play three saxophones at once (he was a one-man reed section) and made an immense impression on stage. I was knocked out by the huge sound he got. So I fell into going to Jazz Workshop regularly. But I wasn't sure I even liked jazz. I like being part of the scene.

Then John Coltrane came to town. He’d just released My Favorite Things, probably his best known album and his biggest seller.

When his quartet played, for the first time, I got totally swept up in the music, it was as if I were carried away into another universe. The crowd, the people around me, everyone started yelling, it was as though we were going nuts. Seeing Coltrane that night made me realize I'd never really understood the power of music. I can't recall much else about the music, other than I wished more than anything I could play like him.

I bought the album the next day. It was the first jazz album I’d ever owned; played it to death.

This is part of a series about how our music hosts fell in love with the artform of jazz. 

We're inviting you to share your story of how you came to love jazz, in 200 words or less. Email your essay to jazz@capradio.org before February 14. We’ll read the top submissions on air and award several prizes.

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