Monday, 2 May 2011

A Genoan revolution

The revolutionary instinct still sounds strong in Garibaldi’s city. At least that what hordes of posters advertising the latest post-punk antifascist concert make us believe. Underground and hidden from sight the standard-bearers are still alive and kicking however. Enter the Association Count Basie, an underground vault near the Station Principe. Its guarded against outsiders by an opaque reputation and a publicity strategy that, at best, lacks the full-frontal assault strategy of aforementioned poster. As a final instance of defence, the club is only open to members of Arci, which is, from what I can gather thanks to Google Translate, a cultural club with socialist leanings. While the former defences ensure a simple defence against invasion by tourists such as ourselves, the latter’s exclusivity is just one side of the story. Most importantly it allows the home of jazz standards to maintain a veil of revolutionary authenticity that I suppose must be a pre-requisite to acceptance amongst the city’s cultured elite. The membership card, once obtained, reminds the holder of their revolutionary obligations including liberty, equality and participation. That being said, revolutionary hallmarks seem to have evolved somewhat since Garibaldi’s days with the casual insertion of non-violence. 

Once inside, the old times come alive in quite a different way. Its blues open-mic night and BB King is played, so is Etta James, solos abound, guitar riffs pounce and every now and again there’s a wail from the corner of overenthusiastic spectators – oh, yea. This is the refuge of the self-proclaimed underdog in the city of the unsettled. There’s not a mezzo carafe in sight; we drink beer – not wine. Every worn-through woolly sweater and corduroy trousers, every unpolished trumpet and un-tuned guitar channels the memory of fellow outcasts that made the music great in its heyday. The music doesn’t quite live up to this vision but it doesn’t matter – the objective is achieved: Jazz in its standard setting.
That the recreation of heyday jazz bears its own revolutionary connotations despite the standard setting and music is clear to both the regulars and to us, the unwanted casual outsider. I suppose that’s partly why this particular vision is chosen. So it’s a relief when the godfather, a balding 40 year old who seems to run the show, gives in to his revolutionary upbringing and calls a 12 year old on stage (see slightly blurred photo below). The kid pulls off a solo like he’s Jimmy Hendrix and passes over to a slightly older student who maintains that BB King has lost his ‘Trail’, not his ‘Thrill’. The incorrectness is reassuring; all is not quite right despite the standard setting. Genoa will go on revolutionizing in its own little way.