All that jazz

Prague, 1995
It was the summer of many firsts: six weeks in a country where I didn't speak a word of the language (in any case, in this language "no" means "yes"); tasting real beer and developing quite a devotion to it by summer's end; trying, loving and eating palacinky (dessert crepes) at every opportunity; and savouring live jazz played by extremely young and energetic musicians, everyone still fevered from the Velvet Revolution.

The place I remember clearest --- also the first jazz place I've been to --- was AghaRTA, which has since moved to a different location closer to Stare Mesto aka the Old Town (it used to be in Nove Mesto aka New Town). We got there so early after dinner that we were the only people in the entire club, and snagged a table right up front, right next to the musicians. By the time the set started, though, the place was packed. Two details linger in my memory, ten years on: a young Czech saxophonist who was just amazing, and my friend (whose name memory insists is Marie, even though I think that's not right) nodding eagerly to the beats.

Chicago, 1995
I lived in the city for two years before I made it to a jazz bar, and it was only because Nardac was in town that I made it there at all. Fortunately, we picked a good one: the Green Mill. It was a slow weeknight, if I recall correctly, and quiet enough that Nardac befriended an older business-y type seated at the bar next to us. A couple of martinis later (hers, not mine --- I still don't like the taste of them), she also got him to drive us home. Nice.

Chicago, 2002
Back in the city for a visit, staying with my ex-flatmate D, we ended up at the Green Mill again. This time, it was really grooving and she got to boogie on the dance floor while I nursed my drink. It was only on this visit that I noticed the art deco interior, and soaked up enough rhythm to last me through the long transpacific flight home.

Singapore, 2005
Has it been that long since I heard live jazz? I guess so. Thank goodness Randy clued us in to the Montreux Jazz Club performance, so we got to chill on the Esplanade's rooftop terrace. Even in the Theatre Studio, it wasn't too crowded; maybe not that many other people knew about the event. The jam session later saw some really talented pianists from the audience take centrestage, including Aya who regularly plays at Jazz @ South Bridge, which I really should check out the next time I think I've got nothing to do.

I murmured to Terz last night that the thing about me and jazz is that sometimes I'm not sure what I'm listening to, whether it's good jazz or not, whether I'm appreciating it or not. He said you just have to lose yourself in the music.

Note to self: the next time I listen to jazz, remember to stomp all over the classically trained Singaporean pianist in me and just let it go.


At 3/14/2005 1:43 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

hee hee.. I remember that too.. the aging black man with his brillo pad hair and his BMW... It's nice to know that I had my touch, even then. The place was gorgeous, with tons of ambiance.

I have to say, when it comes to jazz, I've had few epiphanies on the live end. However, when it's there... you'll know it.

At 3/16/2005 11:23 am , Blogger Agagooga said...

"classically trained Singaporean pianist" - Ah, a woman of many talents.

At 3/20/2005 10:45 am , Blogger Tym said...

Agagooga --- Why, I have many talents, although I think if you heard me on a piano, you'd doubt that piano-playing was one of them.


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