Can I leave? It would probably be rude…Let’s check the time. Ughwe, it’s only been 30 minutes. OK, five more minutes. Just slowly, put, on, my, jacket, and when this song ends I can slip out…. . … . … …….OH MY GOOD GOD it’s never going to end! Just get up and go. Do it, you’re an adult who makes her own decisions. Dammit! Those people are making their way to the door—how rude! Now I’ll have to stagger my exit… OK, five more minutes.
My internal monologue was much louder than David Virelles’ and Roman Diaz’s performance at the National Arts Centre earlier this month.
Some people love jazz. Some people hate it. And as I learned, some people love jazz that some jazz lovers hate.
As Tim Tamashiro, host of CBC’s nightly jazz radio show Tonic told us “Studies show that as music genres become more complicated the fewer people it appeals to.” Of course “Jazz” is a broad and complicated genre. And Virelles’ style is a great example of a jazz musician blowing a gale against the spindly spines of an umbrella term that shelters too many artists under its comfortable canopy.
Usually I YouTube or stream a few tracks before I go to a show, but this time I went into the concert deaf. It was Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival, and I love jazz. More so, I love jazz piano and especially Afro-Cuban jazz. But this was not my cup of tickled ivories.
The pair are incredibly talented. Hailing from Santiago, Cuba, Virelles, at just 32, has played with Henry Threadgill, Chris Potter, and recently released his second solo album. Diaz is a master percussionist from Havana. Both now live in New York, showcasing their talents in venues big and small around the world.
But their sound is just not for me.
Thorns, spikes, pops, and crashes pull any comfort out from under me, challenging assumptions of what jazz means to me.
I look around the audience, trying to quiet my desire to bolt for the glowing exit sign. “Who is enjoying this” I wonder? Several heads bop. In the flickering candle light I see select feet and hands tapping to a rhythm I can’t hear. I strain to put myself in their grooving shoes, but the mental fight is strong. I lose. Finally, I get up and head for the door, apologetically.
We see this in all genres of music, even in our own lifetime. In our teens we loved that top 40 radio show, in our 30s we wonder who considers it music. Maybe in another 30 years I will groove like my fellow patrons in the crowd that night… But the one thing I promise myself, is not to judge their taste, for there’s madness in love… and a love of music.