This happened a while ago, but the review I wrote was just posted on Nextbop, so what can you do? I saw the John Escreet Project on the night of Saturday, November 27 at Upstairs Jazz Club in Montreal. I had to sit at the end of the bar, with a limited view of the stage, but that's just something you have to deal with. I still enjoyed the show because everyone in the club seemed into it.
I've always wanted to walk into a jazz club and have the owner know my name. Now it's a reality. Of course there's an exchange going on. I write a review of the show to watch the show for free. And that's fair in my mind. I'm only a student. I don't expect to get paid, though it would be nice if I did.
I often feel a bit awkward when I'm sitting in a club, taking notes, thinking about what I'll write about later. I'm hoping that doesn't limit the emotional experience of seeing live music. I have to write things down to remember them--like song titles, descriptive words, quotes--but when I sit down to write a review, I tend to remember a lot more than I thought I would. You have to rely on your notes, but more importantly, on an afterimage of the performance that sits in your mind.
Of course I fear being wrong. But that's also just something you have to deal with. You can only try not to be wrong. It's fun for me, though--like slowly taking a risk. I'm only twenty-two. I could be wrong a lot, but I try to stay within my means. I only know so much, but I can only know more as I gain experience.
I'm not completely comfortable being a critic. Not that I am one, but when I write these reviews, I have to be one. I don't really like uncritical writing about jazz, though. I don't like seeing praise where no praise is due. It makes for empty writing.
So I try to maintain my critical insight without abandoning everything else--warmth, humor, anger. I try seriously to not take myself too seriously. That's what keeps me going when I walk into Upstairs Jazz Club and Joel, the owner, walks me to my seat. That's what keeps me going when I open my notebook before a show, uncap my pen, and get ready to learn.