On the second tier of our trip, Rachel and I boarded a small boat into the strange yet wonderful place that is Venice, Italy. Strange I say only due to the fact that it’s unlike any place I’ve ever been. Perhaps unusual would be a better fit for it. If you’ve been there, then you know exactly what I mean.
After a full day of exploring we decided we wanted to hear some live music – one of my favorite things to do – so we headed through the dimly lit canals towards the Venice Jazz Club. Unassuming from the outside, we passed it two or three times before asking a stranger for help in finding our destination. Most restaurants and stores in Venice are like that… Old, unassuming, and modest; but on the inside they hold hundreds of years of history and tradition and culture that is completely genuine and unique. Venice Jazz Club was no exception.
We wandered inside and found ourselves a spot right in the front of the stage. Perfect! We ordered cocktails and settled in, observing the room around us. Straight ahead was a small stage, with a black Longato grand piano that appeared to be well taken care of yet used often. To the right of that, a large wooden upright bass being held up straight by an equally large and stout man. Further across the stage was a jazz drum kit. Sitting there was an older man fiddling his sticks, waiting patiently for the music to commence. To his right – just off the stage – was a man named Jacques, who I later became friends with. Jacques was sitting on top of his amplifier noodling the strings of his classic cream-colored jazz guitar with a look of contentment on his face.
Behind us, a room full of people – maybe 20 of us at maximum occupancy – from all different places around the world. It was a small and intimate venue to say the least, which made for optimum recordings for me being so close to the stage. The walls of the Venice Jazz Club were decorated with old photos and posters dating back decades. A busy bartender in the corner was occupied taking orders and crafting the finest of cocktails before the show began.
I pulled my recorder out from my peat coat and placed it between my legs inconspicuously as I did not want to raise any alarm or get us kicked out.
SIDE NOTE: Part of the fun of this whole recording sounds thing that I love so much is moments like these. In order to preserve the authenticity of the subjects that I am recording, sometimes it requires me to go ‘incognito’. In this situation it was a bit risky, as we are in a foreign country and you never know how people will react to this sort of thing. Sometimes just the sheer fact of knowing that you are being recorded is enough to throw your performance off; so I try to do my work undetected, for the preservation of authenticity in the art of recording. Plus I enjoy the rush of it all!
I set my levels and pressed record. Shortly after, a man came on stage and welcomed us to the Venice Jazz Club. After surveying the room with a few subtle jokes and antidotes, he concluded that the best means of communication for the night would be in the English language – which of course, Rachel and I gladly accepted. Then, he sat down at the weathered Longato piano, tapped time with his foot and commenced the beginning of a memory that would become deeply ingrained into my heart and soul forever.
Here’s what we heard…