Hooked on Jazz
[ Issue 42 ]

Hooked on Jazz is one of Emily Bronto’s favourite Bikwil features

Bikwil has a thing about Hooked on Jazz

Hooked on Jazz

Our new series begins here, with a contribution by Clare Hansson.

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Hooked on Jazz — Clare Hansson
[ No. 1 ]


Music came to me like a butterfly alighting on my shoulder, but jazz came up and grabbed me by the throat. I could pick out little tunes and make up melodies from age two, but I must have been about three when I first heard the “roundabout” music. We were visiting my grandmother’s home, and after the singalong someone put a record on the gramophone. I was fascinated, and jumped on to a chair to look inside the polished wooden box on legs. Inside was a little dog (His Master’s Voice) which circled round and round as the music played. I got dizzier and dizzier, and clapped for more at the end. The other side of the record set me dancing, and I realize now it was jazz. Hazy recollection tells me it was a big band, perhaps Artie Shaw or Benny Goodman. All I knew was that it was different from any other music I had ever heard.

When I was four, my mother took me to see the film The Wizard of Oz. Apparently I came home and played Somewhere Over the Rainbow by ear. That sounded like jazz to me too. From my mother and grandmother’s collection, I knew that “sheet” music was different from a newspaper, and that pianists looked at it when they played. So next trip to town from Holland Park, I begged my mother to buy the “sky” music. I can still see the cover, and I would spend hours pretending to read the music and improvising my way through this beautiful ballad.
Hand in hand with my (hated) music lessons and mastering classical pieces, I played as much jazz as I could, from hearing ragtime and boogie on the radio, or from transcriptions of Fats, Duke or Art Tatum. That indefinable “something” about jazz had me in its grip, and I was hooked forever, with a passion.

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