Cheltenham Festivals, Jazz 2009, United Kingdom, April-May 2009.
Angela: Somewhere, sometime!
Whilst having my pre concert drink, I listened to people talking about the forthcoming concert: “There is not much classical at the moment, he only does jazz…”.
We sit in the concert hall waiting for the concert to start. We wait whilst watching the various men with huge lenses hanging by the stage. The musicians appear on the stage. Nigel is not there.
Eventually the organizer comes on the stage: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the final concert. Thank to the sponsors, Budweiser, a Czeck beer: a quality festival for a quality beer. Thanks to the Racecourse owners and thanks to the Lady of the Manor for the sponsorship. I am glad to say that Nigel has a varied musical background and he injects jazz with hues of new language. Nigel has recorded a CD with Jack de Johnette and there is also his new CD: A very nice Album. Nigel will appear sometimes, from somewhere else…”
The public scrutinises the room and Nigel appears: as usual, ten minutes late at least!
From the far end Nigel walks down the side aisle playing a tune that neither of us recognizes. He salutes somebody in the front row and walks onto the stage.
At the end of the piece, rather long, Nigel picks up the microphone:
“It is fantastic to be at home!”
He introduces the musicians in turn:
“Piotr Wylezol, at the piano,
Robert De Niro, alias Tomasz Grzegorski,
Budvar”. Nigel lifts a bottle of beer and drinks from it.
(I have always called Budweiser, but that is the American name. I am told that currently there is a battle going on between the two branches of the manufacturers as to which name should be used… My friend tells me that the Budvar is made in the Czeck Republic, it is a more complex beer than its “American counterparty”, some of which is made in London…)
Nigel says something in a foreign language and some people clap and cheer!
“Bruce Willis”, “Ice cube” Adam Professor: he played when he was a child, at a very young age, beautifully and handed over this to the next generation and hence he is now called Professor.
And lastly: Trying to achieve a criminal record at a very young age, his parent decided to gift him drums so that he could beat the “shit” out of them instead.” There is a round of applause. “He is a monster… still out of prison! Kryzysztof Dziedzic ”
Nigel also introduces the chap at the sound box on the stage, “…and at the back we have somebody who has been with us a long time: Dracula!”
“Some shit to carry on: I was in Kyoto gardens some time ago and there these fifteen stones, but from the sky you can see fifteen, there is a lot of message that you get from this type of garden. I called this piece: “Fourteen stones”.
The music starts. The lights on the stage are now blue.
Nigel walks over to talk with the man by the music box.
Then they play, without any introductions: Father and son and the lights on the stage turn to purple.
It is at this point that I realised that there are no blue and claret lights on the stage for Nigel. Has Nigel grown out of its idiosyncrasies???
The music is captivating and during the quiet pieces , when the musicians switch over, the public can’t help but clap. It is a spontaneous meaningful clap.
Then it is time for a bottle of Beaujoleux.
Nigel speaks with the chap by the music box again…
Nigel plays again and people clap again.
Nigel smiles a small satisfied smile: he looks happy and content!
Nigel picks up the microphone again and introduces the musicians: this time from the drummer, backwards to the pianist: in reverse order.
“Ladies… (a gentle Hi replies) “How gentrified” comments Nigel.
“Gentlemen ( a just about louder Hi replies) “How gentrified” comments Nigel raising his eyebrows…
“Other types of people…” (says Nigel with a mischievous look in his eyes…)
“So, there is a child, is it your birthday today?” says Nigel leaning towards somebody in the front row.
“You will be playing here is a couple of weeks. K Marshall: (a few notes of Happy Birthday echo in the background) A name for the future!” states Nigel.
“Protocol dictates that I should check with you whether you want one session or two sessions, put both hands in the air: do you want fifteen minutes for a bottle…We have democracy here which is more that either parties have…”
During the interval some patrons were buying Nigel’s CDs and the seller said: “Nigel will sign the CD for you later!”
(Here are some lucky buyers!).
My friend and I smile at each other.
We have a drink and listen again at the conversations around us:
“He only really plays in Poland now, that is because of his wife…”
Nigel comes back at ten past nine!
He appears to read a piece of paper from one of the music stands, crumples the piece of paper into a ball and kicks it towards the public.
“This one is for you, Sir!”
“Would I be correct in believing that you would like me to play for you? This piece has been inspired by an amazing musician, the greatest who combined life and music, a fine geezer from the early seventies, who combined folk, rock and some psychedelic substances that you are not allowed to mention on TV… It took a great deal of time to deliberate, using the intellect to think really hard (Nigel,…thinking hard!) to decide on this amazing title: Donavan. But before that we will play a thing called “tuning up”. The amazing thing about the violin is that it stays in tune for at least one and half minutes!”
The lights back stage simmer in emerald green and the music of Donavan fills the hall.
The minutes hand moves round and just as it approaches the six I tense, ready to leave: Nigel plays the first few notes of Saturn.
The music is quiet, you would hear a pin drop!
The lights change to yellow and I follow each note, I know the piece by heart!
I think about Jeff Beck, his lovely biceps at the Royal Albert Hall, and as the music explodes I rush out of the hall, my neighbours very kindly opening a gap to let me through.
They also kept their word: “We promise not to trip you up as you leave”, they had told me earlier!