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Five Night Stand    by Richard J. Alley order for
Five Night Stand
by Richard J. Alley
Order:  USA  Can
Lake Union, 2015 (2015)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Richard J. Alley has written a wonderful story of music, life and love. Oliver, a veteran jazz piano player, has been persuaded to end his career with a five-night stand in New York City. It's a long way from his birth place in Mississippi, but New York is where his wife raised the family while he went wherever the music took him. And boy, does the music speak!

We hear all about jazz through Oliver's life journey, whether it was played in forbidden after-hours at a store, or on the Mississippi River, in New York, Paris - and many places in between. Oliver has met all the famous names: Count, Tatum, Dizzie.

Alley has a way of describing the music, the musicianers and their way of life that makes us feel their passion, their longing, their love and their losses: 'Back then he'd hammered out rags as rough as the planks that made up that schoolhouse stage. Over the years he's taken a saw and rasp to those tunes and smoothed them at the edges, sanded them slowly over time with finer and finer grit paper, and applied a polish to them.'

Oliver spills all his information to Frank, a journalist recently fired from his job. Frank has personal problems as well, and in trying to get the story about Oliver that he knows is there, he finds a missing piece of himself. Agnes, on the other hand, is in New York to see a doctor, but she already knows what he is going to say. When she finds out that Oliver is going to play all the songs she and her daddy used to love and that she no longer can play herself, she realizes that is the real reason for her trip.

Three people, who are at a tipping point in their lives, find each other and through that encounter discover the means to move on. Jazz lovers will certainly savor this one. I never wanted it to end.

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