Will Calhoun via @BlueNoteNYC Instagram Live

As quarantine drags on, many of us are welcoming any escape from reality we can get. For myself, that comes in the form of musical performances via Instagram Live.

Before quarantine, I would try to drop by a jazz club whenever I could. Having a good cocktail and getting lost in the music was my definition of a great night out. Now I can only hope that a good number of these clubs will survive.

Some, like Blue Note, have pivoted rather well to showcasing performers via Lives. As I finished tidying up my apartment after a weekend of doing household chores, I settled down with a glass of red wine, Brie, rosemary crackers, and bresaola. A notification popped up from my neglected personal Instagram account, mentioning that Blue Note was going Live.

I tuned in and was met with Will Calhoun, standing and facing the camera in a bright orange imperial-style vest with golden buttons. He announced that he was streaming from the Bronx, an area hit particularly hard-hit by the virus, and that his first piece was dedicated to Jimmy Cobb, who died Sunday. Yet, he wanted to incorporate ‘looking forward’ into his performance.

After that brief intro, he tended to the wide array of instruments before him and produced an exotic melody that was unlike anything listed under his name on Apple Music. It was ethereal yet tribal and reminded me of a bit of the tracks in my library from A Hermitage by Jambinai.

There was a theme of perseverance and vitality within his music. It made the label of ‘drummer’ that Google has given to his name seem very narrow in scope. Rather, he became a mastermind percussionist. Even the word percussionist could be limiting, I thought, as he picked up some sort of Chinese-style flute.

His facial expressions morphed as he became entranced by the music he was creating. For one of the pieces, his somber expression melted away entirely and a wide beaming smile lit his face as his hands danced from one cymbal to another.

Then, all too soon, it was over. I found myself staring at the darkened Live screen for a moment for searching for any recorded track from him similar to the style of what he had played. Nothing I found could quite pin it down.


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