Monday, 3pm, a couple of weeks ago...
The black cab pulls up on Dean Street and it’s a white sky afternoon as I drag my gear to the doorstep marked 93. This evening’s engagement isn’t until about nine-ish or whenever the place starts to fill, but on employer’s request I’ve come in a little early today to run some tunes at the club beforehand.
A good knock raises no-one’s attention indoors and the Big Issue guy on the corner says, "You just missed them. A whole lot of ‘em headed off about ten minutes ago.”
Great, so I’m standing there with all my gear on the footpath in gigging gear, pinstripe and hat, all dressed up, seemingly nowhere to go…
Another character emerges from the melee to knock on the same door – ginger hair, earring on the left, shiny purple suit, another one of the characters in this little village. We’re obviously after the same people and I feel compelled to say something…
“Are you after Ronnie?”
“Yeah, you seen him?”
“I think they’re out for a bit. I can call him if you like?”
“No, it’s fine,” says the serious guy in the purple suit, “I’ll come back,” and paces off into the ether.
Perhaps I should ring someone for myself I thought…. And suddenly, before another moment has time to pass, totally out of nowhere this guy appears directly in front of me, no, somehow below me, crouching on the pavement…decked out in fedora, black glasses and grey trenchcoat, my own sartorial selection has somehow caught his eye.
“Excuse me,” he says in some sort of eastern European accent, “are you a jezzmen?”
(That’s why I still love those words, like ‘jazz’ and ‘groove’ and ‘swing’, because people from all over the world pronounce them differently, which maybe says something for the diversity of the music that they describe)
The freelancer emerges from within. “Well, for tonight I suppose I am, yes.”
“Can I take your photograph?”
“Er, yeah, sure….”
….and then swings out one of those old square cameras with the big circular bulb up and off to the side and FLASH, it’s done and he moves to leave…
“Hang on, can I get a copy?”
“Here’s my card.”
…and disappears! As quick as he emerged….