Magic, music and Montreal – Part 1

by Steve Brock on September 9, 2011

I watched this jazz trio at the Montreal Jazz Festival while surrounded by people drinking coffee and wine. A perfect trifecta for someone like me...

I must confess. There are three things in life that I wish I liked better than I do: wine, coffee and jazz.

All the cool people I know like these things. Each has its own special locations, job titles, sub-cultures and arcane lexicons barely decipherable to the uninitiated. When you’re in, you’re in. You can converse with the barista, discern the vintage from a whiff of the cork or sway to a cool riff with equal panache.

When you’re not in, well…you’re me. You like the concept but not the actual experience.

With wine, for example, I wish I could pull off lines like, “This Merlot envelopes my tongue in a dusky oakiness with a crisp yet mellow finish.” But I can’t. Not without some serious snickering. Or hang out at the wineries which are intentionally located in gorgeous locales where the scenery and architecture seems to enhance the flavor…or at least the experience.

But then I’d have to drink the stuff and that, alas, would be a bad thing: an unfortunate (and yes, regrettable) experience with a bottle of white wine on a ski slope in Germany in college ruined me for wine for life, or so it seems.

With coffee, I’m not sure what the resistance is, especially hailing from the Seattle area where, if you cut the average person on the street, they would bleed brown. I guess it’s the belief that I don’t need another attachment or new addiction. I’ve already got more bad habits than a run-down convent.

With jazz, I have these childhood memories of hearing my parents play a continual stream of Muzak-like faux jazz on their stereo. At the time, it felt as enlivening as a five-hour lecture on sinus cavities. Today, those associations still make jazz – or certain kinds of it – seem a tad depressing to me.

With all three – wine, coffee and jazz – if you sweeten each up, I like them. But then you have grape juice, chocolate milk and rock music. That kind of misses the whole point.

To make matters worse, with jazz, I love everything about it…except listening to it. I love the history, the theory and concept and even the metaphor of jazz: a group of individuals coming together with their own distinct sounds, gifts and personalities yet contributing toward something greater together than they’d achieve on their own.

Thus, I can respect and appreciate the music. I’m just not wild about listening to it.

So why then did I go out of my way to attend the Montreal Jazz Festival on a trip to Canada this summer?

Ah, that is one of the mysteries of meaningful travel. And alas, you will need to wait until next time for that mystery to be revealed…

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