Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And we're going back for seconds!

I have always been of the opinion that consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. - Oscar Wilde

If we take Oscar Wilde's quote to heart, then OMGYOUGUYS those jazz musicians last night must be the most imaginative people on the PLANET. The opening duo played what I like to call 'Cacophony Jazz.' Cacophony Jazz is best defined by its tones of 'Screaming Cat' and 'Dying Chicken,' accompanied by 'Wailing Kangaroo.' By the end of their half hour of screeching, our group was green around the gills. I struggled with my own fight-or-flight-response to curl up under the table and fall asleep.*

Before I go any farther, I should describe our foursome in attendance: we had Alan, who - when he thinks he is going to hear jazz - makes this sound that I WOULD call scatting, except it's nothing but high hat. Then there's Peter - who I met when I worked for Abi - a guy who terrifically wears his scarf as though it is the last scarf on earth and decorates with wild abandon, and his partner, the Brazilian Roberto, who would seem to be the most-equipped for this scene if it weren't for the fact that he's so gentle he makes lambs look like violent predators. We've all become friends because they also have a place in France, relatively near ours, and the four of us can get together and fling our scarves around and throw our noses into the air while discussing the apPALling state of the French antiques market**. They are also the ones who introduced us to our Kiwi builder and his French wife***. So we love them. But, needless to say, we are not the audience for this concert. We are Philistines.

We've only just recovered from the opening set when the main act takes the stage. The venue is now full, standing-room only. Here comes my drummer. I'm feeling good. IT'S HIM IT'S HIM. We're digging in. *rubbing hands together, shifting weight in hard wooden chair, leaning forward* Then a homeless guy comes out and sits at the piano. Followed by a janitor who grabs the cello. The three of them are fantastically indifferent to their own performance - in fact, they may not have even noticed there was an audience: the homeless guy clearly rolled out of bed and shrugged, 'smells clean enough' before rubbing his beard into disarray and stumbling out into the harsh light of day, the janitor looked for all the world like someone you'd spill your guts to over a pint of cask ale in the city, and Our Drummer is wearing a stripey shirt with all sorts of white and blue and red like the world's sweetest patriot. They are totally unlike the Cacophony Duo, who were both dressed head-to-toe in black and played in the dark.

Now youguys, I'm not gonna lie: I wouldn't buy this recording. I wouldn't even seek it out on Spotify. It was madcap chaos - part Cacophony Jazz, part WHOAOAOAOAOAO Jazz. But I will say this: these guys were INSANE PLAYERS. The homeless guy - we found out later out he's Italian, which made all the sense in the world - was so into his piano that he literally CLIMBED INTO his piano. He played the strings as much as the keys. The cellist - middle-aged, wearing a rooster tee shirt - looked like he was trying to kill his instrument. He played the top, the bottom, the underside of the strings; he made it scream with his bow before hammering it with his fists. I have never seen hands move as fast as his did, and I've been pickpocketed in Madrid. And then of course Tatsu (I feel we're close enough I can call him that) played the drums, in the sense that he took a whole bunch of stuff and threw it, rubbed it, and scraped it across them, producing sounds that were wonderfully, wildly unnatural.

It was awesome. To watch. It will take days for my brain to quit bleeding.

In other news: we've got another show tonight! This one is the Mike Fletcher Trio at the Barbican. I hope - at least for Alan's sake - there's some high hat action.

Big hugs and lots of love,

*My body likes to deal with extreme stress by passing out, which makes me wicked vicious in a fight.

**We know nothing about the state of the French antiques market.

***Natalie and I can only communicate in pantomimes and charades, but she has got a face so expressive that she could tell the story of the Odyssey and not leave a detail out. We have no problems conversing.