Paul Desmond’s “Take Ten” album is like a gentle sauna of sleep: soothing, soft, sophisticated. His jazz is the kind of music that doesn’t demand your attention when it’s on, but is sorely missed if it’s off. It is difficult not to pause and sway a little in time with the beat while, say, walking toward the kitchen sink to scrub a sweet potato. Or maybe you find yourself lost in the activity of cleaning your toes, cupping your fingers around their tips to keep them warm, and then deciding to lie down and just listen. The grogginess of sleep deprivation can slip off the body like satin under the spell of Desmond’s trills and symbols. Listening to his music, all of this can happen without any sort of conscious recognition of the level of relaxation you’re approaching.
Suddenly you find yourself spinning a web of words in your mind, like a poem that turns into itself. Or maybe a canvas wraps around your field of vision, paint smoothly pressing along its surface with each flinch of the retina. When one form of art inspires another, there is perhaps something divine at play in the interaction. There is no language for English meeting Russian, just as there is no language for the unspoken power of music co-mingling the mind’s thought-tremors and internal movies. The mystery is actually born and lived in an in-between land of both genres. And the moments, as they tick by unnoticed on the metronome, are as immeasurable as a grain of sand (though not for lack of size).