Kirk Whalum Blog
This is my "brotherfromanothermother" Gerald Albright; and in the middle, my mentor––1st and last inspiration on the sax––my Uncle Peanuts!
May I hasten to add to my last blog (bloog!) that last night our hosts treated us to the most amazing sushi you can imagine––including what we could call "Japanese Gumbo" ...mmmmm!––and invited the whole servant team. I include this because we were so impressed with their eagerness (without having read my blog) to shower these hard-working young people with such love and appreciation––and a very pricey and delectable repass! Given the previous insight on the economics of many young people today all around the world (certainly in the US) my "daddy" side really rejoiced in seeing them have so much fun and eat so much "Tomago!"
BTW, my nickname, given to me by awesome jazz pianist Takana Miyamoto, is "Ojiichan," meaning Grandpa! Don't make me include a photo of our handsome grandson Kobe––speaking of Japanese names!
And then there's the dessert from that same meal (see previous entry). Briefly; the presentation of the awesome "angel cake" I ordered really dazzled us. The usual lovely design of chocolate or raspberry sauce on the plate, done by the pastry chef with just that extra bit of flair for creativity, always adds a bit of glee as one devours the delicacy at hand! But in this case, it was extra special, not just because it was created by a gifted volunteer––a beautiful young student 20 or 21 years of age––but that it was both artful and meaningful.
I had preached that morning from a topic which I translated (with plenty of help!) into the following Japanese words: KOKONI––ASOKO. That was the sermon title, Here and There. The servant who prepared my dessert had scripted beautifully with chocolate sauce, the Japanese characters for Here and There on the plate alongside astoundingly accurate caricatures of my wife Ruby and me! On the plate!!! Man this country and this culture (and Kick Back Café) blow me away.
How 'bout I include a video of my dessert! I know, nerdy.
At any rate, I awakened here in Tokyo this morning with soooo many impressions from the three rapid-fire days of performance at Kick Back Café that I had to get them down––even though it's really early here and my body's sore from all the activity.
I'll recount only two impressions for now––they usually come to me as I'm studying for one of my seminary classes and get "blooged" into the ozone, never to see the light of day! After all, my personality type only allows me to really focus on one thing at a time... unfortunately. Man I'd be making all A's if this weren't the case!
So last night's show I can only describe as HYPER creative. The band [Marcus Finnie-drums, Braylon Lacy-bass, John Stoddart-keys/vocals] and I were almost literally wind surfers cruising on the creative gusts of creative ideas (rhythms, melodies, risks...) directly from the heart of The Creative One! It was exhilarating––the kind of show that's virtually impossible in the context of your run of the mill "smooth jazz" concert in the states. Kick Back only seats around 140 people if you put the last 20 folks in the bathrooms! Not really, but it's packed.
There were moments when we all knew categorically that the kind of interactive, vibrant, evolving, dynamic, nuance-bloated music coming out was exactly what we would not have been able to do within the constraints of the commerce-driven smooth jazz format (speaking now of the types of venues and audiences which normally make up our touring schedule). It's like the difference between driving your Tercel to work, and cruising the winding roads of the Swiss Alps in a Testarossa! When the show was over we all checked our vital signs (!), made sure we still had our wallets (!) and sighed a collective "...Wow!"
Well after the show, during a very late dinner (which I try as a rule not to do because the calories do not leave you when they attach late at night) when I realized I had just about maxed out if I was going to have this sexy dessert I had been eyeing all week, I handed in my plate––still half full of food. At this point the server/volunteer [the servers at Kick Back Café give their time because of their love for Jesus and their commitment to the church which meets at the café on Sundays called Committed Japan] asked me a question that stuck with me all night (thus this bloog). She said; "Do you mind if one of us finishes this?"
In other words, here they are serving us, literally waiting on us hand and foot, showing us the kind of love and appreciation (just because we were willing to come there and share our gifts with them though we were being paid to do it) that makes a person almost blush... and she wondered if it was OK for one of them to eat what was left on our plates. Now I add this comment with extreme care because it is not my desire to cause embarrassment or especially for anyone to be reprimanded on my account––and besides I am an avid fan of leftovers in my home because I despise the idea of food wasted when so many go hungry. But the point is this:
The economic reality for most young people in the world, even a fairly wealthy country like Japan, does not include very many sumptuous meals like the ones we had enjoyed every single day during our stay (actually twice a day). So the sacrificial service, the sincere, broad, radiant smiles, the humility that had blessed us time and time again in these servants, came in spite of the reality that they were not able (not because of this particular management but because of real-world economics) to enjoy the same level of culinary bliss. This fact brought a tear to my eye because I knew that I didn't deserve what I had all but taken for granted now––the kindness and tender service that they had lavished on us all week (and every other week I had spent with these precious ones).
You see, the love of Christ compels those who have been smitten by The Passion of His brutal torture and execution––and subsequent miraculous (and historically documented) resurrection on behalf of any and everyone––to want to serve Him (through serving others) sacrificially and with their whole hearts. It's as if when one walks in the doors of Kick Back Café (and so many other churches and home fellowships around the globe) they enter a zone of true humility. And remember that many of those who serve have chosen to do so, rather than being relegated to servant-status in some sort of caste system. Many of them are quite literally medical doctors, professionals, accomplished artists, etc.
So my long bloog is just to say that I am profoundly humbled once again by my experience in Japan and particularly at Kick Back Café and I pray God's richest blessings on each person who served us so richly during our magical stay.
And I think I'll save the second impression (mentioned above) for the next bloog!