Why jazz? you ask. Because it is the music that moves me. It is the music that makes my body want to sway, my knees want to bounce and my feet want to tap. It is emotional, sexy and free and I have loved it for a long time.
Long before I knew what jazz was I fell in love with it. My first experience with jazz was the music in Disney’s animated cartoon The Jungle Book. Louis Prima played King Louie and the horns were at their best in those scenes. That was in 1967 and I was turning ten years old. It is still my favourite Disney movie and I still sing along and move to the music when I see it. My Second experience was Disney’s The Aristocats in 1970 where, in my opinion, the piano jazz and all hip jazz cats stole the show. There was something about this music that my ten and thirteen-year-old self didn’t understand at the time. Something about the way it made me feel.
Flash forward more than forty years to when JT decided to study music and his program was jazz based. This was when my exposure to the music I had fallen in love with grew. JT studied trumpet and my love of horns, especially all things trumpet has grown exponentially. There is nothing I love more than a muted trumpet. Bring on more Louis Prima as King Louie with his horn playing subjects. Bring on Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis. How come I didn’t know about these guys before then? I can’t really say except that I was an introvert and didn’t get out much and that I was very busy putting myself through school and then living a day-to-day, and sometimes very serious, working life.
My eyes and ears opened up to a new world that was so different from the pop and easy listening that I had heard most of my adult life. The Doc and I started going to clubs to see the students and other jazz musicians play. Then we went to jazz festivals: Halifax, Montreal and Monterey. These days we stream jazz stations via the internet and satellite. I prefer instrumental jazz and there are unlimited resources on jazzradio.com that allow me to get my fix. It is the perfect place to go when the house is too quiet or I am in a slump.
How does all this have me dreaming of being a jazz pianist? I know you are probably wondering when I would finally get to the point. Well JT teaches music. He is currently teaching The Doc to play the guitar via FaceTime. I am a believer of life-long learning and have always wanted to learn the piano, and we happen to own one. One that I tried to sit at in order to learn several years ago. And though I was happy to be there, my back was not. But now I am back on the piano bench with a much stronger back I might add, thanks to almost two years of yoga.
This week I had my first lesson and have been practicing what I learned over and over in preparation for next week. As my sometimes achy fingers hover around middle C and stumble over the ten keys they are trying to learn, which currently sound more like C D E F G G… F…… E… D… C, I know that I will probably never be an overly-proficient jazz pianist. I also know that piano is yet another thing that I can do in my retirement to keep me healthy. Just like yoga, kayaking, gardening, walking and the numerous other activities I have taken up over the years. I also know that the more I do it, the better I will become at it. So even though I will never take a stage or have any desire to play in front of a group of people, I can still dream because without all my dreams and goals I would have no reason to get up in the morning. My biggest goal is to make all these reasons enjoyable. C D E F G G F E D C
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Photo by Jenn Stone