Thursday, April 09, 2009

a mellow afternoon project

With a little free time on my hands this afternoon, I decided to play a stack of mellow jazz to help me stick with a somewhat tedious job I've been wanting to do in my studio for some time. I had just the right book pages to tear up, neither too old nor too literary. Set partly in Scotland (my paternal grandmother's birthplace), it flashed some catchy phrases here and there to perk my interest as I slowly tore through the book. Never did get the story line sorted out, but I could tell it was inventive, stoic and romantic, as the Scots in my family were, I'm told.

Melodic Stan Kenton started the afternoon set of CD's. Since my task required little attention, I reminisced about how long ago I began my love affair with jazz, jumpstarted early by finding boxes and boxes of hard vinyl records in my grandfather's basement. When I was entering high school in the late 50's, I started listening from the back stage areas to some of the visiting jazz bands that played at my uncle's Sunnybrook Ballroom in Pottstown, PA. Most vivid in my memory are The Dave Brubeck Quartet and Thelonius Monk.

One summer during college in the early 60's, after being hired to drive someone's Mustang convertible from PA to CA, I worked for Mark Thomas, keeping inventory of things like his wine cellar at his Outrigger Restaurant on Cannery Row in Monterey. Around the corner was the Spaghetti Factory, where I was regaled by "the last of the red hot mamas" singing on stage accompanied by black and white silent movies in the background. These robust women sheathed in sparkling red sequined gowns had fantastic voices, belting smoky hot favorites all evening. Mark Thomas had to vouch for me at any of the night spots since I always looked too young to be allowed in the door. And there was jazz everywhere, such as Ahmad Jamal performing at some small venue I can't remember.

Early in 1966, I started studies on scholarship in England, first at Oxford, then at the Polytechnic University of London. Despite my meager student stipend, I became a member at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, in his new digs on Frith Street. Being the only young female in regular attendance, I was taken good care of, with my special small table and favorite salad for dinner. Ronnie Scott was always the MC, a performance himself. There I came to appreciate Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, and many other visiting jazz musicians.

Eventually some 300+ book pages were torn and glued and my afternoon was gone, but my project still has a long way to go. I'm looking forward to another mellow afternoon. Meanwhile, since it may be a while before it's finished, here's a glimpse in progress to let you guess what I'm covering with all these book pages. Did you guess? It's the Making Memories Embellishment unit, and I've stacked three of them to equal the height of my bookshelves.

1 comment:

nataliehansen said...

Can't wait to see it finished! I hope you are going to Silver Bella this year!!!