The next morning, Forrest is late for a 9 a.m. rehearsal with his jazz ensemble. “I slept through my alarm,” he mumbles, gripping a to-go cup of coffee. “I was up until 3:30 doing my Ear Training homework.” But once Forrest gets into the tiny rehearsal studio two floors underground, he perks up. The band, including his professor on alto sax, runs through a handful of standards, preparing for a concert a few weeks away. The bassist is AWOL, so Forrest deftly incorporates bass lines into his strumming. He sits with one sneakered shoe happily tapping out time atop the other, his short-sleeve shirt revealing the tattoo on his arm, a face taken from an album cover by the briefly popular Australian band the Vines.
The rehearsal finishes up with Wes Montgomery’s “Cariba.” The professor points to Forrest, indicating his turn to solo. Forrest is most confident and fluent on faster songs, and he has the jazzman’s knack for turning mistakes into happy accidents: A botched low note becomes the base for an energetic, atonal run. “Music saved my son,” Russo says, “from a horrible thing that happened to him.”
The song ends, and like his father in reverse, Forrest takes a careful sip of coffee, stands up from his chair, and exits the room.