The frankly disappointing follow-up to Close Enough 3. By this stage, all the principle cast and characters have left the sinking ship and the cinematic release was extremely limited. If we’re honest, Close Enough was (at best) mediocre and the attempts of Hollywood to defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics with increasingly desperate sequels have not been a great success. Entropy has an inevitability that even death and taxes have to look on with a degree of envy.
However, all of that introduction was nonsense – though represents a worryingly large share of the reason for putting fingers to keyboard. I have, for many years, used the phrase ‘close enough for jazz’ when further precision was unnecessary (or I was too lazy to continue with a task). As this post will go on to explain (well, it might), I now spend a lot more time in proximity to the jazz community and so worry that (a) this phrase might be offensive to that community (LGBTQIA+J anyone?) and (b) jazz seems to require significantly more precision than I have previously believed. I may be forced to retire the phrase from my rather threadbare wardrobe of idiom.
Until recently, jazz did not play a large role in my musical life (or, indeed, my non-musical life). It really only figured in me occasionally hurling myself across the room to hit the off switch should I turn on Radio 3 to find jazz emerging from the wireless. However, over the last year or so things have been changing as I pass through some sort of ‘jazz-puberty’. Somewhere in my 30s olives became acceptable – and even desirable – to my palate (having previously brought nothing but revulsion) and it would seem that my 50s has unexpectedly delivered a love of jazz.
I’m not sure exactly where it started, it may have been going to a Southampton Youth Jazz Orchestra concert with friends (their choice) or experimentation on my part with the Norwegian jazz of the Daniel Herskedal trio (one has to try new things to avoid stagnation). It started innocently enough, with the odd jazz gig every couple of months: it seemed under control. I felt there was some modest subset of the world of jazz which I seemed to enjoy live, but I retained my loathing for recorded jazz in all its forms.
Then, early in 2017, I was sat at home early one Sunday evening wondering if there was some nearby culture I could attend to sooth the transition from weekend into working week. I noticed that the Talking Heads had a free (to enter) gig courtesy of the Southampton Modern Jazz Club (SMJC) in their front bar. This was less than 10 minutes stroll from my abode and I figured “how bad can it be?” – if it was just too awful, I could just slip away in a convenient break and still have most of the evening to myself: mayhap a little tatting would provide purposeful employ for my my idle hands?
As it transpired, it was the jazz some way from awful (certainly not practically walkable) and the Sunday evening SMJC gig has become a regular feature of my weekends. I’ve also been going to other jazz gigs locally and enjoying myself – I’ve even started buying CD on jazz (argh!). What has happened to me? I was expecting the deteriorating eyesight, greying hair and annexation of my flesh by wrinkles as the years performed their ineluctable dance – but no-one warmed me about this love of jazz! Should I have taken Oil of U/Olay more seriously?
I think this process reached some kind of watershed last weekend when I went up to Edinburgh to visit a friend, but primarily to attend the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.
I had a brilliant time with a wide range of jazz from young and old with practitioners from Scotland, Scandinavia and the US. It also helped me to realise that jazz takes place in the sort of venues I associate with all the best culture: small, dark and sweaty (and, if possible, underground!). My two favourite gigs (in a very strong field) both occurred in such spaces: the Alan Benzie Trio in the basement of the Rose Theatre and the Fraser Urquhart Quintet in the Jazz Bar. The Festival also taught me that if an old jazzer invites a younger colleague over, it may be to jam but is more likely to relate to a need to fix their wifi or TV.
In an attempt to boost the appeal of the GofaDM, this post will now be offering scope for audience participation: oh yes it will! At a gypsy jazz gig at the the Talking Heads on Tuesday, I confidently stated that the cucumber was not a jazz vegetable (this was not apropos of nothing, but made sense – of a form – in a conversation I was engaged in at the time). This then raised the question, “so what is a jazz vegetable?”. Clearly the currently popular supermarket apple is not a jazz fruit, despite its nomenclature. Cavolo nero is musical but clearly operatic, as I demonstrated to the horror of those present. I eventually proposed that celeriac was a jazz vegetable and subsequently think that the Jerusalem artichoke and okra might be. It is here, dear reader, where you come in: what do you consider to be a jazz vegetable?