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.