Nothing like the first time

I remember the first time I met Jazz.

It was in my Aunty Pat’s house. At Aunty Pat’s house, no one was allowed to touch anything, ever. Not even Aunty Pat’s husband. Aunty Pat had the type of fiery predictable temper that would light up at the slightest provocation. And it wasn’t because she was hot tempered – it was because she ran everything with military precision. And because no one in her house was in the military, people often got a lot wrong.

When she got mad? Everyone stayed the hell out of her way. She would bring the house down with her controlled rage – and when I say controlled, I just mean she didn’t yell. But she would do everything else. I once saw her whip someone who got water on her car because they weren’t looking when they poured it out the window. Whip!

I was a slightly (I’m trying to be modest and it isn’t working) precocious child, and everything interested me, from the periodic table to why my ‘boobs’ only measured three centimetres long on my ruler. So Aunty Pat’s house, forbidden though it was, was a trial for me, because it had The Coolest Things. She had all kinds of knick knacks from everywhere she’d been; a lavishly luxurious zebra print carpet hung on her wall; exotic looking beaded curtains in her sitting room; black leather poofs that swallowed me as soon as I gave them a chance.

And a shelf full of CDs, arranged in what I’m sure was alphabetical order.

I didn’t know any of the people on that shelf, but boy, did I want to. I picked up a CD and before my grubby little hands had even turned it over, my mother was reprimanding me. I don’t know if Aunty Pat was in a good mood that day, but she stopped my mom. ‘Let her look,’ she said. I don’t know if her acquiescence was scarier than her prohibition, but I grabbed the chance when I could. That CD introduced me to a whole new world of black men and deep bass, smoke filled cafes (in my mind, of course) and most of all – the showy, creative, improvisational mercurial woman, that is jazz. Jazz is a woman to me. Like Jessica Rabbit, but thicker. A shapely leg revealed from a plush velvet curtain. Tantalizing. Well worth the wait. And my favourite – unexpected. I love it when you’re listening to something and you have no idea where it’s going to go next.

Which is why I am going for Safaricom Jazz – kind of to relive that childhood memory and remind myself why I love what I love. To listen to the sweet sounds of AfroSync, one of Kenya’s many jazz bands. To watch someone lemon face – or maybe that’ll be me – when I am introduced to Kirk Whalum, the way I did when I was introduced to the marvellous Kunle Ayo at Safaricom Jazz as well.

The festival on December 3rd is themed  The Gospel According To Jazz. My gospel was preached to me by Aunty Pat, and now I’m a believer, hehe. I’m giving away tickets so you can be a believer too. All you have to do is tell me about how you met Jazz in the comments section, or on my Twitter, and if I like your story, I’ll give you two tickets. So go ahead and tell me. What’s your gospel, according to Jazz?


p.s. the CD? I don’t remember. Lol. But I do remember my favourite track from it, one which still remains one of my favourites to date. Enjoy.

7 thoughts on “Nothing like the first time

  1. There’s a lady my old man loved when I was younger. A lady and gruff voiced man. Loved them mainly because he did but also because they gave me the tingles. Talking about how they should just be friends as they dreamed little dreams of each other. I just didn’t know who they were. The cassette was unmarked . Probably dubbed over. But that voice. Liquid gold. Till I bumped into the Lady of Jazz and Blues again in my recent years. Miss Ella Fitzgerald herself and my love affair with her and her gruff voiced man began 🙂

  2. So this is like for hopeless romantics! I met jazz through an ex lover. I had never really listened listened to jazz( you know what I mean) . Then on our first date he took me to a place he had reserved and a band was playing other music as the night progressed the jazz tunes began and it was like they were meant to be there because it is like I listened to jazz for listening like it was the first time I had heard it. It matched the mood and what he was saying, let us just say he should thank jazz I agreed to be his girlfriend. Lol

  3. I fell in love with jazz when i was a kid stumbling upon a bunch of neatly stacked regularly dusted jazz cds on my dad’s study room cabinet. He would play then in the evenings. His cosy couch and a glass of beetroot juice would complete the equation for him. I remember the name of one artist particularly ; Earl Klugh. Listening to him inspired me to learn the guitar and so I did! I haven’t haven’t mastered the jazz technique perfectly but every time i get a chance to attend Jazz Festival i get more inspiration and drive. I simply love jazz!

  4. it was a traumatising afternoon for me as i had just closed school and reaching home with my report card which had a C- neatly placed on it in math column.My dad who was(still is) a mathematician couldnt understand how one couldnt just play with these numbers on a piece of paper and get the teachers approval for doing it right with a form of just a tick.Our entry into the house from school was that report card and my dad didnt have the patience to open it later while welcoming you home, he opened it the minute he saw it and thats when all hell broke loose. I couldnt take the noise(to me it was) so i dashed out to our neighbour, we called him “Muriuks Wa Bass” , dont get it twisted he had no bass but his music system really gave out the manly effect on his behalf.welcoming myself in he was listening to some soothing sounds of louis amstrong “al be glad when you dead you rascal you”…. At the moment it was my jam. As the cd played along i was getting more relaxed and i remember my dad picking me up from muriuks house at midnight. It was soothing and thats how i got hooked to the jazz religion ever since.

  5. Lovely story, Akello.

    For me, my love affair with Jazz started not too long ago when I developed a desire to learn how to play the keys. I had been a Hip-Hop fanatic all along, until I started with some Mozart pieces here & there, & like the proverbial fire that spreads like bush-fire, next thing I knew, I was going ham on some intense Aaron Rimbui jazz. Kenyan jazz has since been my forte, with Christine Kamau being amongst my favourites. Infact, I recently attended Aaron’s concert at MJ Centre, Westlands (a concert I won two tickets to, by the way!haha), & the experience was absolutely exceptional. What started as a passion for the piano has developed into a deep love for every single instrument that is placed into the hands of any jazzist! Absolutely amazing sound & vibes! Being a Christian myself, attending Safaricom Jazz would come as such a blessing to me at this point in time. Kindly consider me. Twitter handle: @mmmicheni. 🙂

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