"Barry" Obama Discovers Jazz
The Obama Messiah Watch, Part 4.
Is Barack Obama the Man from Galilee? To answer this question, Slate has been gathering gratuitously adoring biographical details from newspaper, television, and magazine profiles of the U.S. Senator from Illinois, best-selling author, Harvard Law Review president, Men's Vogue cover model, Grammy winner, George Washington relative, and "exploratory" presidential candidate. Today's entry is from a Feb. 8 profile in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin by B.J. Reyes. The profile covers Obama's student days at Punahou School, a Honolulu prep school whose graduates also include AOL founder Steve Case and actress Kelly Preston. Reyes' scoop? "Barry" (as he was then known) became a jazz buff while stillin junior high! Here are the details:
His maturity for someone their age also was notable.
"Barry was into things that other kids our age weren't into," says Ando, 46, recalling a time in middle school when they went to a record store just to browse.
"He went through the entire jazz section while we were there. ... That affects me to this day—he's the one who introduced me to jazz."
He had that effect on a lot of people …
Reyes is a little vague about precisely what jazz records Barry would listen to at that tender age. Are we talking about Jean-Pierre Rampal and Claude Bolling's Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio? If so, big deal. Even metalhead Black Sabbath fans were spinning that one in the mid-1970s. If, on the other hand, the beardless Barry was listening to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue or John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, then we would have to judge him fairly precocious. In the unlikely event Barry was grooving on Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come or Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity, then dig it, baby. This cat's the messiah.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.