14 November 2014
I was standing behind her. As she took her jacket off, I put my hands around her narrow waist. She started swaying her hips with the music. I got closer, I could feel the smell of her tanned skin, my breath lightly caressing her neck. I, too, felt the music vibes in my body; I was tempted to execute a few dance steps... which would really mean stiffly and awkwardly bending my knees. Was it only a dream?
What certainly wasn't part of my imagination was the two flutes simultaneously played by the musician (Manuel Hermia) on the far left of the stage. The two other musicians – the slender guitarist (François Garny) and the chubby drummer (Michel Seba) – were equally having an excellent moment. Curiosity and proximity of the concert hall had pushed me to attend the show given by Slang, an unknown Belgian jazz band.
Just as creative was their use of many different instruments – I lost count of the number of flutes (transverse or bansuri – an Indian flute), trumpets, clarinets and other saxophones one of the musicians used throughout the concert. The drummer’s trancing joy was truly infectious (see first video above) as he moved forward to the centre of the stage on a couple of songs, including the melodic one called Essaouira (see video below), the name of a bucolic port on the western coast of Morocco, known for its small blue wooden boats and its wood craftsmanship, a town that is close to my heart.
Jazz as a music genre is considered difficult to define. Giving prominence to improvisation appears to be a key aspect of what makes the music. I would however have been hard-pressed to define Slang as a pure jazz group – their mix of “ethnic” sounds and even rock beats at times makes for a really diverse and enjoyable set of songs.
I dared to sit down on the floor of the central alley between the front rows, since only the seats at the very back had been left available – and shooting pictures of fidgeting musicians, at distance, in a dark hall with sharp light contrasts, is probably one of the most difficult exercises for amateur photographers. One is never too close to the stage in that case! I fortunately didn’t get expelled – this time again – from my strategic position.
So here was I, extensively playing with manual settings to capture sharp-enough pictures, also trying to be a little creative, for instance by rapidly zooming in or out or rotating my camera during slow shutter-speed shots. I had anyway given up on dancing since most of the audience remained frigid and too hung-up, so I was quite happy to play with my camera while deeply enjoying the music. In fact, I probably experienced what one of their songs was audaciously titled – and I promise I’m not inventing the term (although I wish I had): "eargasm".