Straight, no chaser

I don’t know about you guys, but lately I have been listening to all of the jazz.

And believe me when I say ALL OF IT.

There’s just something about the start of fall that makes me want to cuddle up in bed, crack open a really great book and listen to some Lee Morgan until my eyelids droop, and my breathing falls slow and steady.

I want to herald my dreamscape with these fantastical riffs, these trumpet strains.

It’s funny.

I have such a strong memory of this exact same scenario being played out, over and over again by my mum, most nights growing up.

As we kids wound down and slowly adopted the more melodic (and ultimately less manic) postures of the late-night, I can see her so clearly: her in her nightie, washing her face, slathering her skin in moisturizing cream, and puttering about her bedroom to the soft and oh-so cool musical stylings of Thelonious Monk, or Cole Porter, or Quincy Jones.

Sometimes she’d say something like, “I just love this music.”

Other times, she would just close her eyes and sway to the melody.

CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has a number of fabulous jazz programs, and they will be forever married to these memories.

As we chatted about our days, my sports-teams gossip, and her work drama, we’d let the notes dance about us, almost like invisible fireflies, lighting up the night.

It was nice.

It was a nice way to unwind.

As much as I loved those evenings, I never really thought much about jazz as a teenager.

It’s not that I didn’t like it – it was just in the grand scheme of music, there was always something pop-ier, or rock-ier ready to take its place.

In the teenage canon of cool, there’s not much room for Benny Golson.

Much like the sky, or the natural scenery beholden to Vancouver, the beauty of jazz was one I took for granted.

It was just there.

I didn’t need to appreciate it, because it was a part of my everyday life.

Now, I sit at my computer and am practically moved to tears listening to these incredible tunes, these notable notes.

They make me imagine Parisian streets, lit up by a watery moon; cobblestone alleys, flecked with raindrops, and lovers sighs.

They make me imagine red dresses, and strappy heels; an empty café with a lone couple, dancing cheek to cheek. The sweet scent of candle wax, espresso, and wine, hanging in the air.

They make me imagine.

Sometimes I feel as though I was born with the capacity to feel too much.

Everything – every word, every song, every glace; every thought, every sound, every jest seems to rush through me, straight to my heart.

I think too much, I worry too much, I care too much. I am incapable of divorcing myself from my work, my loves, my passions, my friends,

My family.

Everything and all that they are, I pack tightly inside of myself, and work desperately to make sure they are kept safe.

Kept pristine.


When I sit here, and I listen to this music – this fabulous noise, these perfect sounds, I can feel my chest swell.

I can feel myself expand, feel these worlds rushing out; I watch as all this love that lives inside me is unleashed, and I relive this memory.

Reliving it as though it happened yesterday.

And it hurts so much, because I want to be back there.

I want to be sitting in that bedroom, listening to Quincy Jones.

I want to feel my mum’s hand in mine, the soft fabric of her sheets on the backs of my legs.

I want to look outside of her window and see the glow of our neighbours lights; hear the patter of the rain on our roof.

I want to listen to the jazz without thinking about listening to jazz.

I just want to listen to jazz.


Published by

Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

11 thoughts on “Straight, no chaser”

  1. i’ve been trying to un-tie/relinquish/un-do the associations of childhood ever since, well, when. we were brainwarsht and knew all the songs to all the musicals! (except Oklahoma). when i/we (the siblings) “brought home the Beatles” it wasn’t long ’til the parents relented.
    i still wilt to Billie Holiday (yeah, this ain’t jazz). but, sort of like you, sometimes i think and feel and worry and whatever “too much” — but (unlike you) i back off, die a little, coast, no toaster.
    but … this jazz thing: you are quite often so unexpectedly untypical!

    1. Ahhhh, I love early memories of listening to the Beatles with the fam. Those are the absolute best!

      It can be hard to be that person – “feeling” as much as we do. I need to make sure I check myself in check!

      Haha, well, I try to keep people on their toes. :)

  2. Wow… this was great!!!! I’m not a jazz lover myself, I’m all about the blues, sister, but this made me wonder if maybe I’m missing something. Loved!

    If you didn’t think too much, feel too much, blah, blah, blah — you wouldn’t be “you”, now would you? Don’t ever stop being the delightful, beautiful person that you are!!!

    1. Thank you! I would seriously recommend checking out Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder.” I cannot stop listening to it. It is just the absolute best.

      And I won’t ever stop. I don’t think I could even if I tried!

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