JAZZ ON A WINTER MORNING
7.45 am on Sunday morning – grey, raindrops hovering, the steps down into the underground wet and grubby.
Broadcasting House at 8.00am. In the ground floor reception there are three bilious-coloured chairs. They are shaped like eggs, scooped out and lying on their sides. You sit down, you lean back, you lean back some more, you lean back further and further; it is frighteningly reminiscent of the dentist.
Upstairs the chairs are more conventionally-shaped but the colours are just as horrible and not helpful in bringing calm to a novice interviewee.
I sit and read my Kindle. A man with a beard, jeans and a check shirt comes in – he is carrying an amplifier and a guitar in its case. He sits, we talk. He trained as a classical violinist and we remark how many popular songs have taken their melodies from the classics. He says he wants to be a singer-songwriter, like James Taylor, which brings back memories of a pale voice and a pale face. He tells me that he is here to accompany the singer who won the Sarah Vaughn prize. Deele Dube.
When she arrives, the first thing I notice is how beautiful she is. She has a smooth oval face and big eyes. The impression she gives is of a collected and serious woman. Smart black coat, smart black boots; expressive hands with long fingers. She asks what I am there for I explain to be interviewed about my book – which I show her. The long, expressive fingers turn the pages;she admires it and says she will buy a copy. I am happy and flattered
Deele and the guitarist talk about what they will perform; he picks up the guitar and she sings two possible songs. They chose Pennies From Heaven. They discuss which key. The conversation becomes technical. I am fascinated; by the language of music, by the importance of small things. They decide. Her accompanist plays and she sings and the song is soft and has subtle changes of tone and weight that reach like a surgeon’s fingers into one’s mind.
The pennies fall, the voice moves around the words and the notes, and the pitch. The highs tower and the lows are deep and in between the sound vibrates and dips and flies. She is so beautiful; the young woman in her black coat leaning forward in the chair, her hands indicating tempo while the music forms all about us a gentle jazz rhythm and you can hear and almost see, the light and shade changing like velvet being presented to the light with the nap falling first one way and then the other.