Saturday, 5 December 2015

Cast your fate to the wind

So I was really looking forward to a concert of Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas music with the Jerry Granelli Trio. Younger daughter, the Resident Fan Boy and I saw them two years ago and were eager to go again. Well, the evening was certainly interesting. Suppose I contrast the good with the bad?

Good: The concert was held in the beautiful Dominion-Chalmers United Church. We've been to concerts there before.

Bad: Like much of Hades these days, there is construction and renovation going on, which meant the patrons of the sold-out concert were herded through one single entrance. This involve finding the correct door, joining a cue to have our tickets verified, then looped back for a hand-stamp before hurrying in to secure a seat. Festival seating, of course, the bane of jazz and baroque concerts in Hades.

Good: The Resident Fan Boy, being a Virgo, ensured that we arrived at 6:30, so we got quite nice seats on the side.

Bad: The Resident Fan Boy, being a Virgo, tends to think of "on time" as "late", and due to the single entrance, the concert began more than twenty minutes later than scheduled. So he grumbled and fussed within full hearing of younger daughter, who, along with living on the autistic spectrum, has recently acquired an anxiety disorder.

Good: This concert was organized by the Ottawa Jazz Festival, so the emphasis was on improvisation, and we heard three excellent musicians doing what they do best, rather than note-by-note replications of the music heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Bad: This concert was organized by the Ottawa Jazz Festival, so they sold raffle tickets. Do you know what raffle tickets mean? It means hanging around after the concert to find out if you've won. (We didn't buy any.)

Good: The Goulbourn Junior Jubilee Singers, comprised of about 15 to 20 kids ranging in ages eight to thirteen, sang charmingly and on key. When "Linus and Lucy" was playing, you could see the smaller ones dancing in the choir stall.

Bad: Because it's Charlie Brown and involves a children's choir, there were a lot of kids in the audience who were way too small for an evening show - even one starting at 7:20.

Good: I've taken to carrying my bird binoculars in my purse, so I could focus on the expressive face and clever drum-sticks of Jerry Granelli. He even used his hands bongo-style in a wild solo during Guaraldi's inversion of "Little Drummer Boy". I also enjoyed his interaction with bassist Simon Fisk.

Bad: We had a "big 'n' tall" man sitting in the pew in front of us, so I could only catch glimpses of pianist Chris Gestrin.

Good: I've been practising what I call "bastardized Pilates" or "BP" - a really easy DVD and I do the simplest adaptation of the exercises on our bed.

Bad: We were sitting in a pew for fifty minutes waiting for a 90-minute show to begin, so I got a case of "pew bottom". It was "BP" versus "PB". I was mildly crippled and stiff the next day, but it could have been so much worse.

Good: We'd been to a version of this at the Ottawa Little Theatre, so had heard the stories and comments.

Bad: We couldn't hear anything spoken at Dominion-Chalmers, possibly because we were off to the side. I don't recall having this problem with the other concerts we've attended there, so either the acoustics are better if you're front and centre or in the balcony, or the miking wasn't the best.

Good (Really, really, really Good): The encore was the number that got Vince Guaraldi the Charlie Brown gig in the first place: Cast Your Fate to the Wind.

Magical. If only the evening had ended there.

Afterwards, we leapt to our feet -- which really helped the "pew bottom".

Bad (Really, really, really Bad): With younger daughter living on the autistic spectrum with an anxiety disorder and premenstrual to boot, my main objective was now to get her out of the venue and home. However, our pew mates had purchased raffle tickets, and in the low light, were fumbling with their phones to read their numbers. We couldn't exit from the central aisle which was now packed with concert-leavers who shared our objective. When I asked the raffle ticket-holders if we could get by, they agreed politely enough, but expected us to squeeze by them, rather than stepping out briefly and they had left their belongings underfoot. I finally managed to extricate myself, feeling embarrassed and harassed, and hurried to the exit, a few feet away. When I reached the outside door, there was room to stop and put on my coat. That's when I noticed that the Resident Fan Boy and younger daughter were nowhere to be seen.

I watched a seemingly endless line of people file by me, while I wondered what to do. Had they somehow got past me? Had the Resident Fan Boy, with his infamous sense of direction, made a wrong turn? Had they come out, then realized they had left younger daughter's packsack behind? I phoned the RFB, but he had turned his off. I phoned younger daughter, but hers was out of reach in her bag.

When they finally emerged, I learned that younger daughter had refused to leave the pew without donning her jacket, which is new and takes some effort to zip up. Then they mistakenly got stuck in the line-up for autographs.

I'm glad we went.

But I doubt we'll go again.

I've posted this before but I'm posting this again. It didn't sound like this last night. It didn't sound like this three years ago. Because it's jazz.

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