If I were a song I’d be something like “Around Midnight”. The notes were going around in my head as I descended the steps to the cellar where there would be a night of jazz music. I had to walk as the car was not in the garage, just a fifteen minute walk, but was thinking of the journey home around midnight. I wonder if Theolonius Monk was thinking about getting home after playing. Probably his way home was in the early morning hours.
I could hear voices on my way down the steep stairs and I knew I would not be on my own this evening. Although going on my own, I was hoping to meet someone perhaps. I was lucky; there was a small table free so I took my place. The musicians had arrived and were tuning their instruments. It sounded as if Autumn Leaves would be their first song.
Although a cellar, it was a very tidy cellar. Not as dark and dank as you might think. Since the no smoking law, its freshness reflected on the whitewashed walls. A jazz cellar in a small town and I was alone, but saw a few familiar faces. There was a core of jazzers in this town and I belonged to them, although more on a now-and-again basis.
The musicians were all mostly in their best years. There was nothing that would fit in a rock band, more sedate, quiet, introverted. The pianist played a few introductive bars of smooth music and the musicians joined on after the other. Although some had notes, they really did not need them. This music was played with feeling, they set the mood their selves. I examined the musicians, dressed in their blue jeans and neat shirts. They needed no gimmicks in their clothing; their music spoke the language the people wanted to hear.
It was then that my eyes fell on the drummer. He was involved in keeping the rhythm. An interesting musician, and then it happened, our eyes met. I was sure he had seen me. There was a smile on his face for a brief moment and then he turned to the beat again. They were a unit, playing as if it was part of their body.
They were finished and after a short introduction by the trumpeter, who seemed to be the spokesman, they began to play “On Green Dolphin Street”, a piece just written for a film, but made famous by Miles Davis and other such jazz names. I took a stolen glance again towards the drummer, but he was concentrating, on what the fellow musicians were doing.
After a while the band took a break. They deserved it after the concentration they needed, and I was hoping, that perhaps the drummer would find me in the audience. Since I arrived, the jazz cellar had filled and there were very few seats left empty. I decided to take a break myself and left my place for a few moments. When I returned the drummer was sitting on the empty seat at my small table. He smiled at me.
“What do you think, it seemed to go well this evening. I might have been playing perhaps a little too loud.”
“No, not at all” was my answer. I really did not know what to say. I liked jazz but was no expert.
We sat there making small talk when the pianist joined us for a few minutes.
“We should be getting back to the stage” he said.
The drummer nodded in agreement, looked at me and said “the next one is for you” and when the band re-united on the stage they played “My Romance” a Rogers and Hart tune, but often played in a jazz formation.
My evening was complete, the music was good, the ambiance was good, and the drummer was really my type.
After the concert the band sat together and spoke about the evening, analysing what could be better, what was good but mainly being satisfied with the results. They invited me to join them and I was happy. The audience clapped, wanted more, and it was a success for all.
Slowly the time came to leave. I helped the drummer to carry the drums and cymbals up the cellar steps. Not an simple job. It is much easier when you play a trumpet perhaps, or even a piano. The piano is always there. We put the drums into the boot of the car and drove off together. When we arrived home, we were tired. We had a quick look to see that everything was in order at home. Yes, our son was already sleeping; our three cats were indoors, sheltering from the rain that had started in the meanwhile.
Oh yes, did I mention it. The drummer is my husband. He introduced me to the world of jazz, and I have been living there for the past forty-four years.