I was lucky enough to be given an annual membership to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club as a Christmas present and we spent this lunchtime there watching and listening to the Craig Milverton Trio fronted by Clarinet Maestros Ken Peplowski and Julien Marc Stringle.
How fabulous and wonderful an opportunity it is to listen to this quality of live music! It occurred to me while watching that Ronnie Scott’s is probably one of my very favourite places in the world. As you descend into the club, you’re engulfed by the womblike comforting dinginess. It’s so cosy and you’re so close to the musicians that they can often enter an intimate conversation with you, with with their music and their presence.
The numbers performed today ranged from Bebop to Bossa Nova to swing; from Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington through Bernstein to Jobim. I was alternately grinning and tearing up and concentrating and letting the music wash over me. It’s so hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t love music passionately the effect it has on one’s very soul. Just trust me on this.
I have loved swing music since I was about thirteen years old and managed to conceal that love from my peers. At the very height of punk confessing a love for Glenn Miller would have meant sacrificing even the tiny bit of credibility I possessed.
I was introduced to jazz proper when in China, funnily enough, by my Danish roommate playing Billie Holliday and Ella. I’d never actually listened to such bewitching music before and I was beguiled by it, quickly learning most of the words to Cole Porter and Gershwin songbooks. Of course later on came a love of Getz and Miles and Oscar Peterson (after whom our dog is named) and Sinatra, of course.
I feel truly amazed and delighted that my offspring share a love of this music and are equally enchanted every time they go to, or take part in, jazz gigs. They’ve been lucky enough to be members of jazz and swing ensembles at school and through the BYMT, and will happily combine a playlist of the latest artists with Chopin, Steve Reich and Count Basie. It’s thrilling to go to jazz gigs with them knowing that they share my enjoyment. I’m hoping that MsDD, herself a reeder of note, was inspired. She was actually expected at a rehearsal for her school’s concert next week at St. John’s Smith Square but arguably this family time was just as educational for her.
Whenever I listen to jazz music I’m filled with a heart-rending disappointment in myself that I never learnt how to play jazz piano or even chords like the OH and the Boywonder. It’s so frustrating not to be able to go and join in. In fact it’s long been my secret ambition to be a nightclub jazz singer like, say, Cleo Laine. Maybe one day I shall. In the meantime, jazz will continue to hook my heart, make my feet tap and cause my buttocks to dance on their chair.