Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Maybe I Like Jazz

A few weeks ago I went to a concert by a jazz violinist at Small College. I try to support the artists that come to Small Town, because it's one of the fabulous perks of living immediately across the street from a wonderful auditorium.

But when someone asked me the next day how the concert was, I had to admit a dark secret: "It was fine until halfway through the second song when I remembered that I don't like jazz."

It's a terrible thing for a willing semi-competent musician to admit, that an entire genre mostly sounds like self-indulgence to me. Oh, I love structured jazz. I could listen to "Take Five" on repeat all day long. But the long improvisational solos that demand applause several times during the same piece? Nope. Do not like.

At least I didn't like them until last Saturday. I had won a pair of tickets to a Chris Botti concert. (I know! Me! Who never wins anything!) So there Husband and I were, in the upper balcony of a cool old theatre that is in the final stages of renovation. This would have been wonderful except that apparently people who sat in the balcony were really, really short when the Orpheum was built in the 1920s.

I am not kidding when I say that the space between the front edge of the seat and the seatback of the next row was less than four inches. I measured it. And as an I'm-in-the-back-row-in-every-picture tall person, my knees were jack-knifed under me with absolutely no wiggle room. That smile you see in the picture above? Half was sheer happiness but the other half was wondering if this picture would be suitable for an obituary when the veins in my lower legs clotted off and killed me.

Fortunately, Husband is a man of action, which is why we moved to the unoccupied upper-upper balcony and I did one of the few things I have ever expressly forbidden my children: I took off my shoes, hoisted my feet over the seatback in front of me, and leaned back.

And that, my friends, is the exact moment when I started to like jazz. I was perfectly comfortable, the acoustics were crystal clear, and our view from the top of the building meant we had an unobstructed view of the staging and the musicians' hands.

Oh, those hands. All of the supporting cast were fabulous, from the barefoot violinist to the guy who fixed the cymbals WHILE THE DRUMMER PLAYED, but I could have watched the pianist all night. For the first time ever the improv sections made sense to me.

We were close enough to the top of the building that during quiet sections we could hear rain on the roof above us. "Just keep playing," I found myself thinking, and for more than two hours they did. Finally, after a second encore Chris Botti bounded off the stage and the lights came up.

Husband and I left the theatre holding hands, with this song in our ears.

I think maybe I like jazz after all.


  1. Two words: Chris Botti. That is all.

    1. Yeah, I could have stopped right there, right?