It’s hard to believe that, at six months, Ella will remember none of what happens to her these days, and for many months to come. Maybe what she sees and hears does stick with her, though, lurking somewhere in her deep unconscious. I hope so, because that means that some part of her will remember tonight: up way past her bedtime, sitting on the floor in front of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, in a crowded, sweaty room that’s indistinguishable from how it appeared eighty years ago.
She was somewhere beyond tired, enjoying a second wind, and watched the band with wide blue eyes. As is the often the case with Ella, the band noticed her, the people next to us noticed her, as did the people in front of us and behind us. Pretty soon the band was fighting to regain the attention of everyone who was busy watching Ella listen to the music.
After their opening number, the frontman said “I know what we gotta play now,” and they launched into “Babyface.” He sang right to Ella, and then the guy on clarinet stepped up and played his solo to her too. She obliged them by remaining transfixed, and everyone who could see her—including the people in line out front, peering in through the grimy windows—was smiling.
Maybe it’s better if she doesn’t remember that part, for the sake of her ego. But we’ll never forget it.