The scene: An Oscar Peterson concert about 30 years ago. Myself in the audience.
He starts playing piano. (I think it might have been 'Deep Purple'.) He's playing it straight, just as it was written. I think to myself "Crikey, this is so good." I settle down in my seat letting the glorious melody waft over me. He plays it once, straight through, his small group accompanying him unobtrusively. Then......
He starts from the beginning again, only this time, it's, well, different. I feel a bit let down. Why did he stop playing the way I liked it? But, hang on. There are mumbles of satisfaction from the audience - "Oh yeah......Mmmmm" - a few smatterings of applause, even audible laughter, heads start moving this way and that. I look round and see practically everyone else wearing what appears to be beaming smiles, almost ecstatic. The man himself turns to the audience with a wide grin and gives them a wink of complicity. But it wasn't meant for the likes of me. I was totally not part of it, excluded, shut out from this 'conspiracy' of shared pleasure. And so the rest of the concert proceeded in like fashion - me sitting there, cold and unmoved whilst everyone else was in raptures of delight at the master's dexterity in giving them just what they'd come for.
So it's been all my life. I have a passion for most types of music, - in particular classical, pop (well,, say 1950s up to around 2000) and musicals (Good heavens! Who would have thought it?). Country and Western I can listen to with ease and pleasure - rock, yes, up to a point, though not Heavy Metal (predictably). But jazz (I mean true jazz - 'trad' jazz is no problem) has always been a 'blind spot (deaf spot?) to me which I wish wasn't there. I've tried and tried over many years, not just attending the occasional jazz concert like the one I've just described, but also deliberately listening to jazz programmes on the radio. All the time I'm unable to tune in to that special jazz 'wavelength' in the brain which clearly gives so many people so much pleasure that I want to be a part of also.
I once met in Germany an American guy about my age, a serious jazz aficionado, and told him of my feelings of 'inadequacy'. He suggested concentrating on listening to the bass line rather than the embellishments that went on above it, which (he said) should automatically carry one along. So I tried that method. I mean really tried. But all to no avail. No matter how I listened it was always the same feeling of not being able to 'tune in'. In fact I was shut out.
I haven't re-attempted to overcome the problem for some years now and am wondering whether I ought to give it just one more go. Or maybe I ought to accept that I'm too old now and that if one hasn't 'got it' yet, one never will.
It still bugs me a bit that there's obviously something there that's giving pleasure to so many millions, yet because of some 'blocking' I can't be part of it. Well, perhaps I just ought to accept that we're all different. I bet there aren't many around who'd care for me to lecture them on the sublime, supreme perfection of Bach's choral and keyboard music - and why should they?
1 hour ago