Sweet and hot

sweet_and_hot One of the drawbacks of being a flaky arts graduate is that you have to, or at least should, fight the urge to draw extended analogies between one bunch of human experience and another. Those big ol' nebulous comparisons just litter the place up, and generally aren't either big or clever. But sometimes it's in you and it just has to get out. I was very happy to get the chance to participate in this year's jazz festival in Cork, and on two of the nights was playing in the Imperial Hotel in the centre of the city, with a singer who merited being listened to. There were meant to be a fair few renderings at the Chet-Baker-singing end of the gamut: songs with subtle dynamics. The sort of thing you can't very well do satisfactorily when everything and everybody is too damn loud, which was unsurprisingly the case. So, not having too much Napalm Death &c. in the repertoire, we just had to murder the songs we had by over-extraction, over-oaking, indiscriminate blending, &c. Instead of attempting a set of interesting, individual, evocative expressions of something or other, we had to play artificially cheap, unbalanced and headache-inducing factory wine at cost price, because that was what the environment dictated (as distinct from what people want, discovering which begs many other questions). If we'd played the way we'd wanted to, with a modicum of hush and attention, I do think people would have liked it. The American jazz fans I spoke to, who liked the band but couldn't stand the volume, would have liked it. There'd have been a little oasis of the real thing in the walloping hullabaloo of the hotel as a whole. I'm the first to admit I'm only a vin de table drummer, but the band together might have sent people away with some thoughts or feelings different from those picked up on non-festival outings. I should have thought that was really the point. The carefully chosen, unfamiliar but more than palatable wines from the independent merchant, musically speaking, would have got a decent reception if only the comfort zone, defined by common indifference and apathy (and as I've suggested the darker dictates of 'the environment'), didn't begin and end with the dull, strong, cheap, lifeless stuff.