12 February 2009

All that jazz

If there’s one thing cabdriving has given me, it’s a love of jazz. Experimenting with music in the cab, I soon gave up on commercial radio stations. The ads were too intrusive and the chatter too distracting.

Public radio was better, but even the classical radio station with its minimal human presence was sometimes unsatisfactory. The tracks they selected rarely matched my needs: some pieces were too quiet for easy listening in the ambient noise of a car, some were too raucous, and opera is an acquired taste.

But the jazz segments of a Saturday evening hit the spot. I soon learnt the big names and the best albums, and before too long I was building up a CD library of favorites.

“They made the mistake of putting the cab rank in Manuka outside Abel’s record store,” I’d tell the customers, “and I’m blowing all the profits in there.”

Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane and all the rest. I loved them, and every now and then I’d meet a fellow devotee amongst my passengers. Not everyone likes jazz, but few people dislike it, and it’s pleasant listening, with enough interest to keep the brain stimulated.

I picked up a couple of senior bureaucrats the other day, driving them back across the lake to Department of Foreign Affairs. They picked up on Miles Davis playing Kind of Blue, and reminisced to each other about jazz clubs in exotic locations. Little hole in the wall locations where you’d have to sneak a bottle in from the convenience store around the corner, but the last member of some famous band swung a mean saxophone.

“Let’s just stay in here for another hour until this finishes,” one said to the other. I smiled. My kind of people.

But they got out at the office. “Thanks for that, driver,” one said as he signed the chit. “I love My Funny Valentine.”

No comments: