How did you celebrate New Year’s?
Michael went out and did a winter camping trip on the night of the 30th, so he was happy to veg at home for a few hours on New Year’s Eve while I took my parents out. The three of us hurried home to be with Michael before midnight and we toasted the New Year with sparkling wine, sparkling juice, jelly donuts, and deep-fried sesame balls, staying up and gabbing until the wee small hours.
But before all that, there was jazz. Some friends of mine were playing jazz at Tippler’s that night and invited me out to sing a few tunes with them. My parents hadn’t seen me perform jazz before, so I really wanted them to come out. You see, sometimes real magic happens when you’re playing live with great musicians.
Jazz is, at heart, about improvisation. In vocal jazz, the usual formula goes like this: the singer sings through the melody once or twice and then the instrumental musicians get to take over for a while. They take turns, improvising and riffing over the basic structure of the tune, maybe using the original melody, maybe coming up with something totally different. Then the singer comes back in. And the singer can improvise, too.
Sometimes, playing with other musicians, stuff comes out of me that I never thought to do before, that I never would have thought of doing if I weren’t there, in that moment, playing off someone else’s energy, someone else’s groove. Sometimes it comes out of the blue and leaves me breathless at the end. And that’s what makes it all so exciting.
My dad took a couple of pics and videos from New Year’s Eve. (Thanks, Dad!) He didn’t catch any of my very favourite moments — they happen so randomly! — but I thought I’d share one video with you here.
(Can I also add how amazing cameras are at taking videos nowadays? The video-taking conditions were truly less than ideal.)
I’m not doing anything spectacular here (I was totally concentrating on not flubbing all the words at the end because I decided to come back in with the German lyrics!) but there are some very cool moments in the instrumental solos. Grant Simpson takes the first solo on piano. (You can just see the top of his head behind the music stand for a couple of seconds. The pianist always gets buried from sight…) Steve Slade comes in next on harmonica. (He is a harmonica god. Too bad the camera’s pointing the wrong way during his solo!) Finally, Duncan Sinclair solos on tenor sax. And there’s Jon Heaton on the upright bass and Ken Searcy on drums. A great group of guys and a great group of musicians.