Last night was pure magic for me, let me explain. I had not seen a live music concert since November of 2019 and last night, three years minus a few weeks, I attended my first concert and what a concert.
For many years now I’ve have been a regular listener to Saturday Night Jazz on the CBC music radio channel here in Canada. I knew the host, Liali Biali, was a Jazz singer/songwriter and had seen many of her Youtube videos and listened to some of her music on Spotify and the like. One day in early August I was going over the offerings at a local music venue, which is a 15 minute walk from my house. Lo and behold don’t I see that Laila Biali would be playing in my little town, just down the street, obviously I couldn’t resist. I bought the ticket, sitting me at a table right up near the stage, I didn’t realize at the time that I would literally be about less than 3 meter from Laila herself sitting at her piano. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so I printed out the ticket and clipped it on my bulletin board in my office and waited for the faithful evening.
Well, yesterday was it, I got spiffed-up, well as much as one can get spiffed up with the post Pandemic wardrobe that I have left in my closet, and made my way to the venue. I got there early and waited with all the other audience members until we were let in. I was kindly escorted to my chair by a nice usher and sat down to the view below.
Laila, her husband Ben Wittman and Alex Bellegarde on upright bass took the stage and almost instantly the magic began. First of all, I had only ever really heard Laila on the radio and, as mentioned, on Youtube, etc… but to see her sing, smile with that twinkle in her eyes, was such a treat and she plays a really mean piano. I’ve been a big fan of Diana Krall’s for years and always loved her piano playing abilities, but what I saw that evening with Laila’s hand flying across those 88 keys just astounded me and took my breathe away, I kept straining to see her fingers on the keyboard.
She played a variety of songs from her new album, some Jazz standards such as Autumn Leaves, which was very apropos since I had walked over scruntchin’ some Autumn leaves of my own, some covers of the Canadian songbook from the likes of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, and a fantastic energetic cover of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” that had me practically up and dancing, but not quite, guess I was a tad bit shy. In fact as I tried to casually glance around with my peripheral vision it felt to me like I was the only audience member boppin’ in the joint. I’m sure I wasn’t, but to me it felt like it was just me and those three amazing musicians up on stage.
At the end Laila mentioned that she’d be having a meet and greet in the lobby and signing CDs and I was thrilled as I wanted to let her know how much her radio show has meant to me over the years and how much I was looking forward to hearing her play. We shared a nice short chat as there were others who wished to meet her as well and we said our mutual good-byes and how nice it was to meet each other. I then grabbed my coat at the coat-check and made my way back home with two of her CDs in tow and a definite bounce in my step. Since it was Saturday night at just after 10 PM when I got home I was able to listen to the last two hours of her radio show and it felt even more welcoming as I heard her dulcet toned voice and thought how it was a night of live music that I will surely remember for a very long time topped by the thrill of meeting Laila Biali.