Only old people like jazz?

I used to hate jazz when I was much younger. I mean really hate. Jazz offended me because I thought music shouldn’t hurt the ears like that, with its weird cacophony of sounds.

I did appreciate some jazz, but only those that incorporated more mainstream melodic vocals. I liked listening to some Christmas carols sung jazz style. And I enjoyed Kenny G, although I know jazz purists would call it sacrilege to associate Kenny G with jazz.

But I hated jazz in its pure, undiluted form. The tunes go up and down like a roller coaster ride in a seemingly random fashion. There’s no melody. The tempo is schizophrenic. Trumpets are noisy. I didn’t understand the genre and I didn’t understand why people would call it music, because it’s just noise to me. Like how the older generation calls heavy metal noise.

Unfortunately, the Goonfather loves jazz.

When I first found out, I was like, “OMG I’m dating an uncle.”

(In Singapore, “uncle” is often used to describe someone who’s not old but acts old and dated. Of course, we also call old and dated people uncle, but it’s funnier when you call a young man uncle.)

I was of the mind that only old people like jazz.

Whenever the Goonfather played one of his jazz albums in the car, I would make a face at him and change the disc.

But I have to allow him his pleasures sometimes. He likes to put on a jazz CD at home, dim the lights and then sit or lie down and zone out, maybe with a glass of red. Totally uncle behaviour. But I let him do it because he doesn’t do it too often.

Thankfully, his choice of jazz veers towards the more melodic type, like “Dream a Little Dream of Me”.

I used to hate that song because I found the melody irritating, like many other jazz melodies. But I’m beginning to like it now, thanks to people around me who won’t quit playing or singing it.

After knowing the Goonfather, I gradually, unknowingly changed my status from “Hate jazz” to “Don’t mind the Goonfather’s jazz”.

And then…

The most incomprehensible thing happened.

Last night, I was at Bellini Room (the jazz/blues outlet of discoplex St James Power Station) and the band was playing this piece featuring a saxophone-clarinet duet and no vocals (exactly the kind I used to hate vehemently) and I was thinking, “This is quite nice, doesn’t hurt my ears.”


I turned on the Goonfather, accusing him, “You make me old!”

“What?” he said, startled.

“I’m actually enjoying this stupid music and it’s all your fault! You make me listen to jazz and bring me to these jazz places. You’re making me old!!”

“Nay,” he said sagely. “You’ve upgraded. You have to be of higher status to appreciate jazz. So, congratulations.”

I gave him a look. “Old people listen to jazz. It has nothing to do with status.”

“Ok,” he said. “I shall quit my job and work at McDonald’s and next time we go Dragonfly instead of Bellini.”

(Dragonfly is the canto-pop arm of St James, frequented by young adults. I’ve been trying to get the Goonfather to go to Dragonfly since St James opened for business more than a year ago, but my plans have never materialised for some reason or other, one of them being that the Goonfather claims he’s graduated in taste and status and now hates teeny-bopper music.)

That wasn’t much of a threat. Wasn’t much of anything, in fact, so our conversation veered away because it was ridiculous in the first place.

But I was quite perturbed by my realisation that I didn’t hate jazz anymore.

I listened to the band intently, analysing the sounds, trying to figure out why I used to hate it and why I didn’t hate it now. Maybe the bands I had occasion to hear in the past sucked. Maybe the band at Bellini Room is really good.

Or maybe my tastes have really changed. Which is quite possible. I used to love Pez candy when I was a kid but now I can’t imagine why. It’s hard and tastes just like sugar. I would probably get more pleasure out of sucking rock sugar, an activity I don’t fancy in the first place.


I just know that the sound of jazz doesn’t offend me anymore.


For the moment, I’m putting it down to the charismatic singers at Bellini Room.

My favourite, suave and dashing Tom Brown:

Smouldering Darius Mendoza, who prances on-stage and off-stage like a rock star instead of a jazz singer:

Sexy Jeassea Thyidor, who was a Singapore Idol contestant.

They’re all really good and are contributing to my mysterious conversion.

I can’t say I love jazz yet. But I can say that I’m looking forward to being a Bellini Room regular.

Does that mean I’m getting old?


Mr Mendoza serenades to an unsuspecting birthday girl with a seductive rendition of “Happy Birthday”.

32 thoughts on “Only old people like jazz?

  1. Avatar

    I can actually play “Dream a little dream” on the guitar.

    Welcome to a higher level of musical appreciation. Now to start you on the blues.

    Oh, and dragonfly’s for young folks??! I always thought it’s the hangout of old bengs.

  2. Avatar

    eh… i started listening to Jazz when I was 15 and used to play quite a bit of it myself. Although I still prefer Latin and Acid Jazz to the straight-up mainstream Jazz. This proves being able to appreciate Jazz has NOTHING to do with age?

  3. Avatar

    haha i love Jazz… :P And I’m not old… I also like old chinese tunes.. those Orbid Cha Cha kind. haha :) You should try Harry Connick Jr. :)

  4. Avatar

    I love Jeassea, starting from her days in SI. And I have always loved jazz… when I was younger I hated rock! Hahaha. Now I’m alright with rock. I still hate metal and heavy metal though. Some alternative music is now alright but some are still damn weird.

  5. Avatar

    OK, so I went to college for jazz. I was 18 when I started. A rocker in a jazz school (Berkley). Jazz is about how melodies complement each other. We can learn a lot about life by studying how jaz is put together.

    Perhaps that is why older people like it.

    When you can find a younger person who likes it, you’ll find a mature, open and free mind behind them.

  6. Avatar

    Goonfather has good taste in music. Now you do too. There’s a almost mathematical rhythm in REAL jazz (Kenny g & Celene Dion dun count); like listening to chamber music (JS Bach from that period for example).

    Most CDs by Miles Davis are great when the rain comes down and you can hear it hit the roof. His music works sooo well…

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    Dragonfly is NOT teeny-bopper music. It is ching ching chiang, ching ching chong, chong chiang ching. For teeny-bopper music, we should got boiler or powerhouse.

  8. Avatar

    I’m sorry for leaving you alone in the pub dear!!! Didn’t mean to… 1st time I tio tummy ache. 2nd time, I went for a puff when morte n goonie were still around with you.. scarely they came n join me not long after.. doh..alamak..

  9. Avatar

    hmm… I think you will like Joshua Redman, but his is purely instrument.

    Oh yah, go for the Mosaic Music Festival coming up in March at Esplanade too. Tons of Jazz greats performing live there.

  10. Avatar

    Hey, first time visiting here. :D

    Anyway, like many have said before here, Jazz ain’t for the old peeps. :D I love jazz and blues even when I was in Secondary school. Some of the songs can lift you up and keep you floating. =x No doubt there are some songs which are just bad to the ears.

    Just like any genre of course. When I was in secondary school, many loved Metallica and their old folks hated it. But do you know that Metallica, the artistes themselves are freaking old? Lol! ;)

  11. Avatar

    Wow! The Jazz post is still the latest. QY must really be horribly busy at work.
    Personally, I advocate a return to the days when she was a slave to the blog!

  12. Avatar

    Did You Know that Jeassea K Thyidor is not her real name?

    It’s Debbie Lunot and she is half french canadian and half fillipino

    John Doe

  13. Avatar

    With all due respect, you are a terrible person.

    This is a terrible post by a terrible human being. Just terrible.

    Go back to your teeny bopper rubbish. Jazz doesn’t want you.

  14. Avatar

    Bellini room is back at St James Power Station. You should hear the band together with the powerfull vocals of Eliza Flores and Rob Collins.. They’re simply owsome!!

  15. Avatar

    Your belief that only old people listen to jazz shows that you have the mindset of a teeny-bopper who thinks someone like Justin Bieber is a musician.

    Besides the fact, what does age have to do with anything?

    Ignorance is bliss.

  16. Avatar

    I remember reading this post some time ago. I felt the same way as I do now.

    Sorry Shey, I’m afraid Gavin and Matt are right.

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