Tomorrow I perform my first gig as a jazz vocalist. Since April, I've been taking a jazz vocal class with jazz legend Bob Sedergreen and now we're at the culmination.
It's been an interesting journey of discovery. Learning about where jazz came from and what is and isn't a jazz standard have filled my Saturdays. The pressure of choosing only two songs from such a huge repertoire was exciting and an exercise in trusting that you'll choose the right songs.
I'm in love with my songs, although, as with any love affair, it hasn't always been easy.
The first one, "Waltz for Debby" by pianist Bill Evans was love at first hearing. The gorgeous melody in 3/4 time sold me within a few bars. Then I heard the lyrics and I pounced on that song. As with many things, its simplicity masks a very complex and challenging song. I can't wait to sing it.
My second song is a complete change of pace - "Crystal Silence" by Chick Corea, also a pianist. All it took was three bars. It was love; but with love at first sight there's always a risk. A week later I was unsure. The lyrics were pretty heavy duty (regrets and longing for lost love) and I couldn't really remember what it was that first attracted me. Then Bob played it and I remembered. I think I was actually confronted by the emotional intensity of the song and what it would take for me to deliver an honest performance. I'm so glad I stuck with it and I'm really looking forward to this performance.
I had entered the class with ideas of singing something funky and was pretty sure I'd be choosing something by Herbie Hancock. This was a lesson in letting go and following impulses in the moment. I'm so glad I was able to.
The class started with ten people and now we are nine, from all different places, with various levels of musical training and experience. It's been so interesting to watch the wrestling and resistance of those who like structure and certainty - what I might call the antithesis of jazz. I've been thinking how well my training in theatre improvisation has enabled me to be open and embrace uncertainty. Last week, I noticed that the improv idea of offers and acceptance is highly relevant in jazz performance. The capacity to listen to what's happening, to listen and respond within the framework of the song, makes the experience of magical for the performers and fresh for the audience.
We'll all come together tomorrow night, backed by Bob on piano, drums and double bass, at 8pm at the Paris Cat jazz club at 6 Goldie Place in the Melbourne CBD. Tickets are $10 to cover the cost of the venue.
Now, I just need to decide what to wear.