Have you heard much Modern Jazz? I've heard some,Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stan Getz. I've liked most of it. But every once in a while, you get the feeling that you belong to an entirely different species. I had that experience last week.
On Monday, I set out to attend an Erik Truffaz concert at the NCPA. I decided to take the local train, it had been such a long time since I had been inside one. Besides, I had no desire to spend three hours driving on eviscerated roads.
As luck would have it, the train in which I was traveling developed existential doubts. It stopped moving in the middle of nowhere and started reflecting on the
Meaning of Life, perhaps wondering if there was any point at all going forward when it was but a foregone conclusion that one day we would all go away, far away. Impatience was brewing in our compartment. After ten or fifteen minutes, some of my go-getter type co-passengers jumped out on to the tracks, presumably with a view to walking along them to the next station and taking another train. It looked pretty courageous to me and I decided to be a wimp and stay put. I was not alone in this. Most of the inmates turned out to be as wimpy as me, or wimpier. At least I got up to look at the tracks.
I spent the next few minutes looking at my co-passengers, who were a diverse and interesting bunch.
On my left sat GoldFinger, Excavator of the Nasal Cavern. He was "mining" the stuff, rolling it into neat little balls, subjecting the "nuggets" to keen visual inspection and carefully sticking them under the seat.
Opposite me was Mr. Dribble, who stared into nothingness, oblivious of everything including a bit of drool proceeding southwards down his chin. He made slight butt movements every once in a while which looked suspiciously like fart-releasing manouevers. Luckily, I was windward and it was reasonably breezy.
On the other side of the aisle, a prosperous looking gent was shouting important instructions into an expensive cell phone. He was wearing a safari suit (just love this garment) a size too small for him and every time he took a breath, the suit parted to reveal a glimpse of a vast, hairy and jiggly stomach.
I had given up all hope of reaching the concert and having wisely carried a book, immersed myself in it.
All of a sudden, like a jogger who suddenly finds himself the target of a large dog intent on biting him in the butt, our train started moving and moving fast. Must have attained nirvana or reached enlightenment, I thought. Displaying a sense of urgency usually seen in people who have to get to the toilet urgently, the train repaired eftsoons and right speedily towards Churchgate station. I made it in time to the concert. I soon realised I needn't have bothered.
I had never heard of Erik Truffaz. Wikipedia said that he was an important French contemporary jazz composer and after that brief piece of information, became very secretive. The assemblage settled down most respectfully and waited for the hostilities to commence.
Presently the music started. In true modern jazz style, the four musicians on stage were playing four completely different songs at the same time. I was dismayed to find that I seemed to be the only guy who couldn't fathom the music. Every one
else was swaying (I don't know what they were swaying to. The drummer played one beat. The pianist played to another. The bass guitar was oblivious to everything in the world and the trumpeteer was gliding through the scales).
The music was what they call "free jazz". The musicians played according to the "random note" theory of music, a modern trend where the musician plays whatever note his fingers happen to be close to. The result being that it sounded, to me, like a team of auditors taking inventory of a musical instrument store and checking if the instruments are functioning.
But I'm being a bit harsh. There were two pieces which were nice and melodic. Erik Truffaz turned out to be a very gifted trumpeter, in his less unconventional numbers.
But I'll never, for the life of me, figure out how that free jazz thing counts as music. May be I really am a Philistine.
What really got me, though, was that the rest of the audience - at least 500 people - was going nuts with appreciation. Huge clapping and screaming rock concert style (you know, the way girls behave when Enrique is on stage), standing ovations, screams for encores. What was this all about? Either i am a complete boor or these people were just being pretentious.
The journey back was just as interesting. I had the company of half a dozen Gujarati ladies returning from a wedding and they were bitching away about Sarlaben. I have not had the pleasure of Sarlaben's acquaintance (the loss is entirely mine ) but when I meet her, I'm going to stay as far away as possible, if those aunties are to be believed. All in all, a day well spent, don't you think?