Mike’s Monthly Musings – April

Just Jazz?
People always say that one of the advantages of retirement is that we have all the time we need to do the things we have always wanted to do but never had the time to do so!  The first things retired people tell us is that they have never been so busy…. something of a contradiction between these two statements.
Now having been retired for more than ten years, I guess my experience has been a mixture of both statements.  I do seem to have had an extraordinary number of requests to do things, whether it be voluntary work, helping the SLU3A as Newsletter editor, as well as requests to talk, write, review, etc, carried over from my past life as an academic.  I’ve also had opportunities to do things my wife and I have always wanted to do – spend time travelling, mainly around France, visiting parts of the UK we’ve not seen for forty or fifty years, spending time with grandchildren or whatever.  But retirement has allowed me time to indulge my one true interest or passion – namely jazz.
Having moved to the East Midlands from ‘up North’ near Preston, where jazz thrived in most of the large towns around there, especially in Manchester but also in places like Blackburn, Blackpool and Wigan, it was both a surprise and a pleasure to discover Harborough had a local jazz club meeting monthly, bringing some of the best of British jazz to the town, whilst further afield in deepest Leicester was Leicester Jazzhouse, also presenting top line jazz.  And on joining SLU3A I discovered it had no jazz appreciation group – so I set about establishing one, mainly so that I could make a start on listening to my already large record collection in the hope of hearing most of it over the years.  Ten years on the group continues to flourish, with one or two stalwarts who have been with me all the time… we are still scratching the surface of my collection.  And a few years later I discovered a man in Leicester who runs a superb second-hand on-line vinyl and CD record store who needed someone to help with the stock checking one day a week – and was willing to offer payment in kind!
That jazz collection of mine does cover every period from early jazz to some of the latest issues: as with bookshops, I could never go into a record store without finding something of interest and leave clutching the latest find tightly – whether the store be local, national, European or North American – I even managed to bring a lovely Blossom Dearie (pianist/singer) disc back from Melbourne on one trip.  For me it is always the music that counts, but for other collectors the attraction may be the rarity of the label; the first pressings of a particular LP, or a special artist for which the collector seeks every possible recording, no matter what the musical or sound quality may be.  But jazz is not the only music I have in the house – there is some classical – Bach to Shostakovich symphonies (the latter acquired in Moscow in 1991 for the equivalent of 10p), a fair range of blues, country music, and even some pop records – Stones, Beatles, Carol King, Janis Joplin, even Elton John!  And some of these are played from time to time, reminding me that jazz is not the only music to provide comfort, stimulation and entertainment!
Jazz, however, remains the passion and hardly a day passes when some form of it will be coming out from the record or CD player for an hour or more.  Or maybe it will play through my laptop or tablet, or in my car where my iPod selects a mix from the 1700 tracks currently installed as I drive to Leicester or further away, or from the internet or DAB radios, and just occasionally from the DVD player or TV.  After all, if one can’t indulge one’s passion when one is retired, what can one do?!  Mike Goldsmith.