Horn Free

What made jazz mainstay Hannibal Lokumbe leave New York to return to his native Smithville? The lure of wide-open spaces.

JAZZ TRUMPETER HANNIBAL LOKUMBE doesn’t perform in his hometown of Smithville, a small farming community 45 minutes east of Austin, but he cuts a wide swath there anyway. As he bounds along a downtown street in black jeans, an African vest, and a T-shirt that reads “African Chorus, St. Louis,” his dreadlocks flying this way and that, he has a word for nearly everyone he sees. He tells the mayor and the postmaster an amusing story about being pulled over a few days earlier for rolling through a stop sign. Somebody asks what he knows about the movie Forest Whitaker is directing. He knocks on the back door of a bank building to say hi to a man whose mother remembers Lokumbe’s grandfather running a racist cop out of town.

The rest of the day is a flurry of activity. Lokumbe tends to some business in his office on East First Street, which is upstairs from the bakery—ice cream parlor—pool room run by his wife, Latisha. He swings by the house where he and Latisha live with their three-year-old daughter, Eternal Faith, to pick up some papers and show off his 1932 Buick, which he’s got running at 95 miles per hour (when he was a child, his mother, Lillian, who is now 81, cleaned this very house). He drops by a sawmill he bought so he’d save on lumber when he begins building twelve townhouses for the elderly in the lot next to the bakery. He visits a front-porch domino game between a pair of old men on the west side of town and points out the tiny Live Oak Grove Church, which he attended as a child. He drives out into the pine forests to bring a chain saw to the men cutting lumber for him there. And, finally, he drives deeper into the woods, to the forty-acre spread between Smithville and Rosanky where he and Latisha will build a house. There, as summer breezes

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