Sunday, September 10, 2006

What Could I Still Become?

I wasn't feeling terribly inspired about this week's Sunday Scribbings theme, and wasn't going to write anything. However last night I was out with Hamish, Nic and Leonie, and decided instead to write about a dream I used to have that I hadn't really given much thought to in a while.

What could I still become? I could still become a member of a jazz band.

This idea came to me while we were sitting in Chow Cabaret drinking cocktails, eating Blue Cheese Wontons (mmmmm....) and listening to Twinset. We had scored a great table up against the low stage, and I was loving the music and the retro Cabaret atmosphere. The long red Twin Peaks curtains and orange carpet take me back to my childhood, spent running around the (now demolished and turned into nasty apartments ) Mandalay Reception Lounge in Newmarket, Auckland.

Dad started working at the Mandalay when I was still at primary school. During school holidays he would take us into work with him. We would hide under the long white table clothes that were set up for weddings, or one of his workmates would turn a spotlight onto the glitter ball and we would chase little white lights all around the dancefloor. In the changing rooms upstairs from the stage we would crawl around looking for the sequins that dropped off the gowns of the ballroom dancers. However my favourite thing in the whole wide world was to sit up on the stage and pick out tunes on the grand piano.

Sometimes, for a special treat, Dad would allow us to go to Cotton Club shows on a Sunday. I loved the Queen City Big Band (my music teacher was a singer) and would beg to be allowed to see them perform. I shook hands with pianist Oliver Jones and sat above him on the mezzanine level watching as he rubbed powder on his huge fingers before playing. I developed an unnatural fondness for Dixieland music for someone of my generation.

While still at school I took piano lessons and learned to play the saxophone. My teacher talked about me joining a youth jazz band, but unfortunately when he left for America the lessons stopped. I was also a member of the school choir and the school orchestra, but jazz music wasn't exactly part of our repertoire.

Eventually Dad left the Mandalay, I left home, and the playing stopped. My piano stayed at Mum and Dad's until Hamish organised for it to be trucked down last year. It still hasn't been tuned and both it and I sound terrible! I do still sing, although not as often as I would like. Instead Hamish and I have gotten into the local underground dance music scene. For several years we have helped put on dance parties around Wellington. We have also crewed some of the big outdoor New Years festivals in Golden Bay.

I still love the smell of stale alcohol that wafts out from bars when they are closed and empty. It reminds me so much of my childhood. My early exposure to jazz has influenced the music I listen to, and I particularly like the jazz-influenced Wellington sound of groups like Fat Freddy's Drop. I think Dad would like them as well. But watching Twinset last night made me think that I would love to perform again.

I haven't decided what my instrument of choice would be yet. Jazz improvisation was never really my forte on the piano. I could always sing. I used to do a mean rendition of "That Old Devil Called Love". However I have a fascination with the sexiness of well-played sax. I would have to buy an instrument, and I haven't played in over 15 years, so I'd have a lot of catching up to do, but I'm sure I could do it. Hey, perhaps I could sing AND play saxophone. Just not at the same time!


Autrice DelDrago said...

Wow - that ties in with another Sunday Scribbles...

Chelle Y. said...

It is nice to do that you are never "too old" to become something you have always wanted to.