Writings about Music

Kindly Grasshopper

He or she appeared suddenly one afternoon last week in Aspen, it being evident I had been more of a surprise than a disturbance since the brown and beige grasshopper seemed genuinely curious, perhaps even enjoying some unexpected companionship. You see, I had ventured off a rustic path to tinkle, and shortly before completion the grasshopper appeared, perhaps even amused by my thoughtless brazenness while being thankfully completely dry.

Feeling slightly embarrassed by my inadvertent intrusiveness, I instinctively went to pet the grasshopper (perhaps demonstrating a sentiment expressed by Poppy Morgan, proprietor of the legendary Los Angeles restaurant, The Great American Food and Beverage Co, who once told me: ‘You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met”) and was mildly stunned when she or he allowed three slow and gentle strokes on the back before abruptly hopping off and disappearing, like, “OK, time to get back to reality.” This encounter had me wondering how common it was for someone to pet a wild grasshopper, also known as locusts.

Poppy Morgan

There was also a memorable performance by an air-borne Putnam’s Cicada another day in nearby Ashcroft, a genuine ghost town framed by golden trees in their autumn beauty even though it was still summer.

This bright yellow-hued individual was less gracious than the grasshopper, weaving towards me like an enraged moose while projecting an impressive bordering on alarming percussive assertiveness reminiscent of emphatic Cuban wooden claves.

Together with the sounds of myriad creeks rushing by at various tempos – each creek has its own subtle timbral distinctiveness – and the varied leaf rustling of different trees related to the speed and directionality of their breeze or wind duet partner, the stirrings of a new composition were planted even if this unknown will have to wait its place on line, there already being several ahead of it waiting relatively patiently for actualization.

Yellow Chandelier, from the Lilac Dawn album, ends with a Chinese ban gu mischievously masquerading as a cicada performing glissandi in swaramandala fashion.

Poppy, who once gifted me a toy wand on Hanukkah, has something in common with Hariprasad Chaurasia, a flute player so great as to draw comparisons to Krishna - both began as professional wrestlers before finding their chosen paths!

- Michael Robinson, September 2018, Los Angeles


© 2018 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, jazz pianist and musicologist. His 169 albums include 149 albums for meruvina and 20 albums of piano improvisations. He has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University.