The Jazz Connection
Thanks, Elin, for asking me back to visit you!
My history with jazz is short, especially considering how long it’s been around. My daughter and her ex-girlfriend tried to convince me of its charm years ago but it wasn’t until I met one of the main characters in my debut Gay Romance that I really gave it a chance.
But I’m not talking about him today. Today, I’m talking about the inspiration behind the title of my July Amber Allure release, A Sunday Kind of Love: Etta James, her fabulous voice and her tumultuous life.
Like many writers I enjoy having a soundtrack for my stories, it helps me get in the mood. When I went looking for songs for Jake’s story I started with piano trios and quartets—because that’s how I knew him, as a double bass player. I started out with a little Guaraldi (because everything begins and ends with Vince in my world) and moved on to Bill Evans and of course Dave Brubeck, but then I just started clicking anything YouTube suggested. Which was interesting, to say the least.
At first I ignored the tracks with vocals (I have enough trouble concentrating without someone singing in my ear) but then YouTube gave me “I’d Rather Go Blind.” I already knew Etta James was larger-than-life but had never spent much energy educating myself on the details. Once I read about her battles with addiction, how she went in and out of rehab and her unfortunate love-life, I knew I was onto something. Jake’s has some of the same troubles, he’s lost jobs and friends because of his drinking and made so many sketchy choices where the fellas are concerned even he’s lost count. But, he kept making music and taking chances on life and love—sort of like Ms. James. Which is why I went with the title A Sunday Kind of Love. Aside from the fact that the lyrics describe exactly what Jake wants—all you have to do is listen and you can hear heartbreak and the hope she managed to hold on to even in the darkest times, in every one of her songs.
A Sunday Kind of Love, by Charley Descoteaux
Jake McKynnie, middle-aged jazz musician, has the chops to solo—in every sense of the word. He’s living a lonely life in LA, convinced that’s the best he can expect. DJ, the boy who calls him Dad, turns up the day after his high school graduation like a sucker punch from the past. Could their celebratory trip to the salon be the catalyst for Jake’s duet with the enigmatic stylist, Mason?
Excerpt (Rated PG):
Jake grinned. “This is my boy, Jacob. He needs a haircut befitting his new status in life.”
The proprietor frowned theatrically. Jake barely noticed, his mind occupied with what the boy must be thinking. He’d never met a man like Antonio in tiny Willston, Oregon. Nobody was that tall, dark and polished in pink leather pants and a pink silk snake-print button-down shirt.
“A little young…”
Jake made a strangled sound that would’ve had him cringing at its ethnic offensiveness if he wasn’t so mortified by his own choice of words.
“Antonio, that’s not what I meant.” Jake looked at the boy, who was almost completely covering that he had no idea what was going on. That, and the fact that he looked so much like his father, meant he may have a shot after all. “This is DJ. He just graduated from high school and came down for college.”
“You are kid-ding me! This is DJ?” Antonio turned to regard the boy with a hand on his hip and a thoughtful expression. A slow smile spread across his face and he fluffed DJ’s hair and then held it away from his face. “You did bring him for me. Come on, gorgeous, let’s get started.”
Antonio brought Jacob farther into the salon, an arm draped across his shoulders and Jake following close behind them. It always surprised Jake how many people could be in the salon—stylists, customers, and assorted friends of Antonio’s—and yet it rarely sounded as though the chairs were full even though they usually were. But that could’ve had something to do with the volume of the music which wasn’t overpowering but loud enough to conceal a multitude of sins.
Antonio sat Jacob down and put Jake in the next chair to watch while they discussed the merits of a few hairstyles. Jake felt an inordinate amount of pride as the boy warmed to the situation, as though he hadn’t spent every day he could remember in a rural Oregon town of 1,200, but in LA as originally planned. Both spent a quiet moment not quite looking at each other in the mirror when Antonio said father-son facials were on the house as a graduation present. Jake didn’t want to remind him of the honorary nature of his title, and it’d been too long since his last facial anyway. He pretended not to see Antonio’s look that said it’d been a long time since he’d indulged in a lot of things the salon had to offer.
After a fun couple of hours Jake and Jacob headed for the car. Jacob stopped just outside the door to admire himself in the window’s mirror-like surface.
“You should go on back and talk to that guy whose chair you were in. He was checking you out, Dad.”
Jake watched as the boy turned his head to see his new look from every possible angle.
“Looks good.” Jake resisted the urge to run his palm over the boy’s head, like he had when DJ was two they’d had to give him a buzz cut after he’d gotten into some paint. “Feel like yourself now?”
“You bet. I’ll take a little walk and check things out while you head back in for a few minutes.” Jacob winked and would’ve left Jake standing there if he hadn’t taken the boy’s arm to stop him.
“Don’t go feeling too cocky, now. Just because you’re in LA don’t think you can swish around anywhere you please and nothing can happen.”
“I’ll keep the swishing to a minimum.” He waggled his fingers at Jake and took off down the street.
Jake ducked back into the salon and almost ran into Antonio. “Thanks for taking care of him on such short notice. You’re the best.”
“You’re right about that.” Antonio kissed Jake’s cheek and leaned back to look at him. “And it was no notice, but who’s counting. You okay?”
Jake ran a shaky hand through his own short hair which, if he were completely honest, felt just that side of shaggy. “Will be. Didn’t expect to see him today.”
“If you need someone to talk to you just call me, honey.” Antonio hugged Jake hard for a short moment and then released him and gave him a significant look. “We’ll get coffee.”
“Hope I didn’t tick off your neighbor by monopolizing his chair.”
Antonio grinned so loudly Jake had to turn away.
“I’m sure Mase didn’t mind. You know he gets all drooly over hard-bodied men with tattoos.” He traced the Celtic braid encircling Jake’s left biceps. “And you have tattoos. Mase! Mason, come over here and tell Jake you don’t mind he grabbed your seat.”
Jake watched Mason stalk across the room and pass Antonio going the other way. Antonio must’ve winked or signaled him somehow because Mason’s step turned slinky as soon as he saw past him to Jake. Mason looked hot all in black, leather pants and a sleeveless shirt that wasn’t quite see-through. He could’ve lost the leather bands around his biceps as far as Jake was concerned, but that was the only fault he could find without more time.
Thanks for reading!
Buy A Sunday Kind of Love:
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-asundaykindoflove-1228409-149.html
About the author:
Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they let her sleep once in a while. She’s a firm believer that everyone deserves a beautiful love story even, or maybe especially, the ones who would usually be in the supporting cast. In Charley’s worlds you’ll find out-of-work teachers, motivational speakers, unknown jazz musicians, and maybe even an undercover colorist. Home is Portland, Oregon, where the weather is like your favorite hard-case writing buddy who won’t let you get away with taking too many days off, and in some places you can be as weird as you are without fear. As an out and proud bisexual and life-long weird-o, she thinks that last part is pretty cool.
Rattle Charley’s cages—she’d love to hear from you!
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/CharleyDescoteauxAuthor