Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jazz, Classical and waking up, thanks Dad.

For a family that was primarily an visual arts family it is a little odd (maybe) that I ended up playing music.  But then I think back to some of my earliest memories;
Life has been tied together (beginning to present) by a place call 'The House of Doors' an oasis in lower Muskoka that I have been privileged to have access to.  Many paintings and stories have come out of the cottage over the years and I will continue to love, learn and live up there. Since home is where the heart is I guess that's home...but I digress.


As far back as I can remember Saturday mornings where ushered in with the smell of bacon in the pan and the sound of Jean Sibelius 'Finlandia' on the hi-fi.
Do yourself a favour and listen to the whole thing....close your eyes...and imagine;  
You're a kid in the 70's lying on the top bunk and the sun is forcing it's way through the white pine and oak into your bedroom. The door is open and the sound the water, the breeze in the trees and the morning birds follow in with the sun.  Not far above your head is a cedar ceiling, redwood beams patina'd by time to a warm red, the sounds of plates and cutlery as the kitchen prepares, and bacon hits a hot pan. Someone asks if you are going for a swim before breakfast... and the fist long notes flow on the air mixing with the smells of pork, pine, water, and you climb down from the bed.  

That's was mornings on Saturday at the cottage, and believe me (ask my brothers) I am not romanticizing this in the slightest, that was how every saturday began.  Dad always wanted to come up on friday, maximize the time on the river so Saturday wake ups where the norm  We cut down trees, we piled wood, we shingled, we raked, we dug, we played 'war,' built some amazing forts in the bush, and swam in the river and had lazy lunches on the dock. 

The music was amazing; 
Shostakovich,BrahmsMahler, Beethoven (Symphony #7 not the pesky pop music 5th), Chopin... then there was the classical that I brought up; GrofeCopelandBach, classical is meant for long drives and lazy days, it's perfect in the background because you can give it your attention, or not.  I learned to love classical music driving across the prairies in the Gluebus, sunrise behind me heading west on an empty road.  Serene moments like that are often also found in a Muskoka chair on a dock.

At the House of Doors music was often in the back ground. I'm not sure what drew my Dad to music, I should ask him.  After all not everyone had a constant flow of music in their childhood, let alone one with such a generation gap.  But Dad loves his music; he once told me that when he was alone at the cottage he would push the hi-fi over to the window and turn the music up load, then swim, sit on the dock and read, scotch and cigar in hand.
There was Oscar Peterson, 
Clark Terry 
                 Dave Brubeck
                                 Carmen McRea  
Oh man... and Miles, Ella and Sinatra....
Saturdays where for Symphonies and Sundays where for the Jazz wake up call....and boiled eggs usually with toast, a fruit salad sometimes kippers, maybe Nasi Goreng if there was left over rice... I wish I drank coffee back then, that would have been perfect.

I find rock has it's endearing qualities, but it doesn't have the same type of ebb and flow that Jazz and Symphonic music have.  There's a frantic nature to modern music that (to me at least) doesn't flow through nature the same way as older music does...maybe it's the lengths of the songs or the attitude behind the music.  Sure there is beautiful and timeless rock music (the Beatles, Springsteen, Johnny Cash, U2...) but for me those songs are attached to specific moments in time, a simple snap shot of a memory... not of my long personal wanderings. 


I guess that is what makes all music the soundtrack to our lives, it's the songs we sing in our heads and the ones we hear when we wake up. It accompanies smells, tastes and experiences good and bad, it motivates us and sings us to sleep. 

So modern music is the snap shot and Symphonic and Jazz are the movie, that's my angle at least. I should note that for all the years I have dedicated to rock no one song is a cottage song to me...but when I hear Finlandia, I'm taken there...and when I arrive, I usually look for that album.

I blame my Dad for my obsession with music.
Thanks Dad.

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