I think it’s interesting that I can feel the difference between something really good and something really great. Case in point: we attended a concert on Sunday night – we had gone down to Cork for the Jazz Festival over the long holiday weekend here. It was a double bill, the first a quintet with trumpet and sax, the second a trio with piano.
The first group was loud, enthusiastic and full of good humour and friendship. The packed house loved them and there were hoots and shouts of approval when the brass did their solos. They were very talented, of course, but not being a true jazz fan, it struck me they were trying too hard, intent on strutting their stuff for the admiring crowd. All good but not my taste.
The second group was much more subdued, no brass, just a wonderful pianist with what I experienced as a much more sophisticated, more integrated base and drums. They each had their solos expressing their virtuosity but it was always in support of the music and the piano, not a competing but an interdependent sound. I loved it! Regardless of genre, this was brilliant entertainment. Their encore was “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell, an old favourite of mine, which I thought was a fascinating choice for a theatre full of jazz fans. It brought a tear to my eye.
We had a conversation afterward over dinner. Femi felt it was impossible to qualify one as better than the other because they were so different in style, size, instruments and approach. I felt the first group was really good but the second was really great, a qualitative difference regardless of their distinctions. I’m reminded of Mozart and Salieri . Salieri was a really good composer. Unfortunately for him, Mozart was a great one, brilliant and inventive by comparison. Or maybe it is simply that I love the piano. It reminds me of my youth and my piano that moved along with me as we changed homes.