I guess I should clarify.
By `My Evening With` I mean catching a rare Toronto performance by the incomparable jazz pianist Dick Hyman. (you'll have to read further for the ''Just Call Me Julie'' explanation!)
Each year, for the last 38 years, Jazz Fm has hosted an incredible set of concerts, the ''Sound Of Jazz Series'', and Dick Hyman was the kick off for 2013. Renowned for his stride piano and his work on several Woody Allen films, I was truly excited to see, and hear, the great Dick Hyman. The series is held at The Old Mill, a romantic venue just big enough to hold a crowd yet still remain intimate, as all jazz should be.
Without care or regard to being seen as a Keener I arrived 15 minutes prior to the restaurant opening (45 minutes prior to ''first seating'' dinner reservations made by Handsome Man the day he grabbed tickets and 2 hours 45minutes before the show!). I wanted to make sure we had a good table. Good thing too, because I wasn't the only one at the door! The Old Mill had arranged banquet style tables on what is normally the dance floor in front of the stage. When Michael, the sweet, efficient and slightly harried Maìtre D', showed me to our seats, I was ecstatic. Handsome Man and I were placed just off to the left of the stage, with a MAGNIFICENT view.
The show was extraordinary. Dick's set list varied from ragtime to classic jazz to Leonard Cohen. Incredibly Dick is 86 years old. The way he plays you'd have no idea, his hands blurring as his fingers fly over the keys. Witty and exceptionally talented, Dick put on a show I will long remember. He rightfully earned a standing ovation at the end of the evening, when he left the stage to join the masses at the banquet tables. The adoration and respect for his talent, and for the man himself, was palpable. If we are lucky enough to have a Dick Hyman make a repeat appearance in this fair city, Handsome Man and I will be there for sure!
Now, one of the things I've talked about before is the prevalence of a certain type of jazz patron at events like this. I usually refer to them as 'Husband' and 'Wife' . They and their ILK attend jazz concerts the way some people attend Art Gallery openings. Its about the status, not the music (or art). They sneer at anyone and everyone, especially those younger than 60. They make disparaging comments and/or sit with sour faces throughout the entire performance. They make it extremely difficult to enjoy the MUSIC. As I've stated in other posts, they will be the downfall of live jazz if they continue to drive away those who will carry the love of jazz to future generations. When Michael showed me to my seat at the banquet table, I was thrilled, great spot, HOWEVER when I smiled at my four table mates and said 'We've got wonderful seats, don't you agree', I was treated to silence and sneers.
`Husband`and 'Wife'. TIMES TWO!
I ordered my Riesling and buried my face in my menu. It was going to be a long night. I sat there praying they wouldn't be distracting during the performance.
Fortunately moments later another Keener was shown to his seat, to the other side of me.
Marty and I were both waiting for our other halves (Handsome Man in my case, Music Buddy when the wives don't want to go in Marty's case) to join us.While waiting we struck up a great conversation spanning varied topics. When Handsome Man arrived he too joined in the conversation. He and Marty had a lot in common and we were really enjoying ourselves, talking about concerts past at incredible venues like Massey Hall, Koerner Hall, and Varsity Stadium. At that point I noticed Handsome Man smile and nod at someone beside me. As I looked over a wonderful couple introduced themselves, Marilyn and Don (a CHARMING older gentleman whom I immediately dubbed Don Juan). It seems 'Husband' and 'Wife' (both sets), whom I had thought had stepped out for a cigarette or something, had actually left in a huff, upset about their seats. So Marilyn and Don were able to take their place! Shortly thereafter, on Handsome Man's side of the table we were joined by Marty`s friend Rob to Handsome Man's right, and Sue and her husband Dave on the left.
The evening was spent with the incredible music of Dick Hyman, and in between sets,as well as before and after the show, with wonderful conversation on all sides. A truly delightful evening. I introduced everyone to each other and got conversations started (as I'm apt to do). Marty laughed and said I was like a cruise director, which led naturally to 'The Love Boat' and the nickname 'Julie' for the rest of the night (told you I'd explain later). Don Juan, Marilyn and I discussed venues, lamenting those gone and rating the newly opened. Handsome Man and Rob debated the pros and cons of various photographic equipment and 70s concerts at Massey Hall. Marty and I chatted about our kids (well, commiserated I guess, we both have teenagers!), and together we all discussed vacations, Woody Allen, jazz and LIFE. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to enjoy such an exceptional evening of music with.
We discovered we all have tickets for the Joey DeFrancesco concert in November. Here's hoping we get stuck with each other again!