20 November 2014
This is my second Aficionado launch. The first was at Wang; this one is for the local mates. What pleasure it was to hear Geoff again, but also to hear Eric Ajaye accompanying. I've missed Eric at some recent gigs and otherwise not heard his playing for many months, after the changes at the Jazz School, and this was a rekindling of considerable bass awe. It was particularly pleasant in these surroundings. Just solo bass backing solo voice. Nice, big room; discretely amplified; amongst friends with a few beers and wines. Those gently slurred lines; the comfy sense of latin rhythm; the expressive heads; the dug in pizz and just one passage with dainty cello bow on a tragic poem of Lee Morgan's demise at Slug's Saloon in NYC following a shot from his defacto wife. But Eric didn't just accompany. On the day, Caroline Stacey introduced the event, Eric launched the book, Allison Hasting read on her response to the book (an extended verse on "Why I don't like jazz"; a brave presentation based on Alison's preference for classical and folk)and Geoff recited with Eric's comping. Eric's launch was a recounting of the parallel experiences of Geoff and Eric: the closed-eyes concentration of youth; the commitment and seriousness to jazz as art; the humour and names and the more recent connections in Canberra. Eric described these as perhaps parallel experiences, but also with clear differences: Eric could see these people; wash dishes to get under-age access to venues; question his jazz elders; eventually play with names that Geoff and Australia could only hear on record. Despite many excellent jazzers in Australia, there remains a jazz tyranny of distance. This time I did get to purchase my copy, but I had to rush off and still haven't got Geoff signature on it. That's for another time. But in the meantime, it's great to hear Geoff's poems, Eric's stories and his so-identifiable bass playing again.
Geoff Page (poetry) recited several of his jazz poems with accompaniment by Eric Ajaye (bass). Eric Ajaye did the Canberra launch of Geoff's latest book, Aficionado : a jazz memoir.