The writing lair doesn’t share space with a love nest, and I don’t routinely play seduction music around the house. But, I’ve discovered that some jazz compilation albums make for the best at-work listening. Writing work, that is, not day job work. When I sit down at the keyboard, I’m trying to resituate myself in Chicago’s ethnic blue-collar bungalow belt circa 1959, dodging big-finned cars to cross the street enroute to a dimly lit neighborhood cocktail lounge, where a neon martini glass sign flickers to life over a shadowy doorway.
Downloads might be easier than pawing through used bookstores’ audio bins, particularly since some of these “jazz for lovers” compilation albums favor saucy cover art that’s certain to elicit smirks from cashiers. But it’s a dedicated vinyl and disk zone ‘round here. I’m no expert on postwar era lounge singers or pre-Beatlemania jazz combos, but the albums teleport me to my make-believe “there-and-then”, and suddenly I can hear coins dropping into jukeboxes, Zippo lighters clinking open, taffeta cocktail dresses swishing against nyloned legs and leather soled shoes shuffling across a postage stamp sized tiled dance floor. Hell, order me a Rob Roy, fire up a Viceroy, and I’m ready light up my keyboard. (Technically, it’d be a cup of coffee. I’ve never actually tasted a Rob Roy.)
I’ve only bought a couple of these goofy albums so far, but I’m still on the prowl for more. I imagine there’s a lot of duplication among the tunes, but that’s okay. I’m not paying attention. It’s only mood music. Not for soft light seduction routines, a night of romance or even some…uhm…”private time”, which I suppose is what the albums were intended for. Actually, with the volume dialed down a bit, the music is more like vintage white noise. But it works for me, sets the mood, gets the words flowing, and I can’t argue with that.
Photo: The Pianist, by Dima Veselov