Sunday, January 15, 2006


So on Thursday we got our stand up finally with the aid of some twine, sticky-back plastic, old boxes etc. We even went all the way to FAO Schwarz to get some candy with which to entice people to the stand (well that was our excuse anyway). We weren't actually running a fruit stall, just incase you're wondering, although someone should have been, given the appalling choice of bar food available at the venue. But I digress.

Also managed to fit in a couple of very interesting seminars on jazz and public radio and 'turf wars' between jazz clubs and Arts Centres presenting jazz programmes. Then at 4pm we headed downtown to the Dutch Consulate's amazingly gorgeous and doubtless unimaginably expensive private residence for a reception. Which is of course when the day started to go a bit pear-shaped. For starters the wine was just lovely. And the canapes. And the wine. And the bartenders. And the wine. And then a totally divine man walked in - the sort of person whose very presence instantly lights up a room and commands a hushed respect and a kind of awe.
'Who is THAT?!' C and I chorused to a passing Ambassador.
That's 'John Clayton'.
And there began our 'conference crush'. (Because of course there always has to be one, to get one through the more tiring tedious 3am moments). C and I were both starry-eyed, and had to have more wine to recover. And then more wine to summon up the courage to go over to meet him and shake his hand and look into his eyes in a tongue-tied sort of way. Pathetic behaviour.

All this would have been just about okay and par for the course had we left then, but instead we fell into the company of some Dutch jazz musicians, including the very feisty and fun Ben Van Den Dungen . (Although one really does have to wonder about the sanity of musicians who go swimming with their saxophones). He was, inevitably, an adorably bad influence. We had taken the precaution of getting the lovely Peter from Wigan to cover us for the opening of the stand at 6pm just incase we were a little late, but by the time we had got a cab back from the Netherlands and staggered up to the furthest point of the furthest exhibition hall there was only 20 minutes of the opening event still to run. Felt very guilty, but due to wine intake was not sure I should be talking to the public and instead busied myself constructing the paper planes we had also taken the precaution of buying earlier that day, incase we needed them........

From there to the bar where we bumped into the lovely folks from Serious, and of course they don't drink at all. No not at all. I don't remember many details about Thursday after that but I know I also ended up at a Nordic reception until 1am. I know this because according to the TH I didn't get home until 2am and I found the invitation in my pocket the next morning, and photographs on my camera. And of course the Fins and Norwegians don't drink either. No not at all.....

Incidentally, the Finnish for 'cheers' is 'kippis' , which is pronounced 'keep pissed'. I'm not entirely sure how I know that.

Friday started way too early. I dragged my too-old-for-this-up-all-night-drinking-lark head (and body) to Starbucks for two coffees to go (there are days when one is simply not enough) and had a very alarming American-language moment when the person at the till said to me
'Next guest in line please'.
I don't want a room, I just want a coffee or two! Guest?!
I missed my moment unfortunately, because on this particular morning I was clearly incapable of speech until I'd actually consumed the coffees, but they'd better not try that one on me again......

Then to the stand to put in some 'chatting to the public about UK jazz' time. It only took about 1 minute to realise that we had been put in the 'music shops' and 'instrument makers' exhibition hall. Which loosely translated meant that at any given moment there were about 300 musicians trying out drumkits, brass instruments, saxes, keyboards, electric guitars etc etc starting at a distance of about 4 feet from our stand. An excruciating cacophony, which made it almost impossible to have anything resembling a conversation with anyone who wanted information. Hopeless. It also meant that my (beautifully blagged) website demo plan and itunes UK jazz demo folder was completely pointless as nobody could hear anything , even when the laptop was right next to their ears at top volume. We were not happy.

In the afternoon checked out the Andy Scott/Dave Hassell Duo (which was lovely and warmly presented) and the North Texas State University One O'Clock Lab Band, a group I was very much looking forward to seeing live, as I own a much-cherished 1975 album of theirs - one of my earliest jazz discoveries. They even played one of my favourite tracks from that album - 'FM', written by past-student Lyle Mays. Felt a whole lot better after that gig and primed for some more pointless miming on the stand.

Later to see 'Curtis Stigers' who was fine doing upbeat numbers and had a fantastically swinging band, but whose ballad-songwriting made me cringe. The sort of really obvious lyrics where you can guess exactly what's coming next and where someone is always being missed or kissed etc etc. Dear oh dear....I fear I had to disappear. Then to see 'Kitty Margolis' - a really talented vocalist from San Francisco, who I met years ago when she came over to the UK and did a performance at the RFH. She was on brilliant form and now also has an amazingly talented and astute drummer - Allison Miller, who was awesome to watch. In fact if I hadn't already decided on my conference crush......

Then to the bar where we met some guy who worked at the U.S Department of Justice and had a couple of hours of fairly interesting race-relations conversation with him (!) before the 11pm EST gig. They were superb as ever. Another late night.

Saturday raced by. Did some more pointless stand-miming then had a good look around the exhibition (and bonded with Avishai Cohen's agent), before going to see Kathy Dyson present her PhD paper on 'Jazz Improvisation and Schema theory', which was fascinating. Back to the stand and C had become some sort of kleptomaniac in my absence and had started to collect all sorts of tat freebie giveaways in a sort of panic-buying mode (or whatever the free equivalent is) . I mean, how many black industry mock-rucksacks does a girl need? And then to the hard-sell time of the conference - we were trying to get rid of all our remaining CD Roms and heavy stuff so that C didn't have carry it back to the UK, so we enticed with the aid of chocolate-covered coffee beans and paper aeroplane tricks. Anything, in fact, which didn't involve having to hear anything anyone said above the constant instrument racket. Janek Gwizdala turned up and we had a lovely catching-up chat (well more of a 'shout' under the circumstances), as I've not seen him for years. It really has been a 'bass fest' these last few days. Then we packed away the stand, which took all of 10 minutes and headed off to the final concert with the Eddie Gomez Trio, featuring Chick Corea and Jack de Johnette.

These things are over too fast - it was lovely to see so many UK (& USA) friends again, but no sooner do you start making new friends and bumping into people and having good project ideas than it's time to go home again and you're left with a load of business cards and a massive hangover, trying to piece it all together.
Why, for instance, do I have a Staten Island Botanical Gardens business card in amongst my jazz ones....? And who or what is Sibongile?


Blogger codenameLizzy said...

I'm knackered just reading about it.

3:29 PM, January 16, 2006  
Blogger est said...

sibongile khumalo perhaps?
south african jazz singer vocalist.

5:51 PM, January 16, 2006  
Blogger jimbobwoof said...

the two lepages?

2:54 PM, January 17, 2006  

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