It has been a long time since last I visited Night Bites at Whirinaki Whare Taonga. It was a truly joyous feeling coming back to re-discover this wonderful oasis of music in Hutt valley.

On the Friday night in question, I had a chance to meet yet another wonderful person: Bruce Brown, a talented pianist with a charming voice and an outstanding sense of humour.

He was accompanied by a very good friend of mine, the equally-wonderful Michael Duffy on the double bass.

The atmosphere at the Dough Café was family-intimate, safe, and cosy. Every time I go, it feels like visiting an old friend’s house… one with a grand piano. One to which you are always welcome to come to heal your soul.

And this night I felt that feeling more intensely than ever before. It was Bruce’s first public performance since his 2016 stroke. It was a lesson in bravery, humility, and success.

It was not a hurricane of black and white keys; it was a fresh and gentle breath that flows through you like a cool summer breeze.

Classy instrumental standards were served simply, but touched the soul. They perfectly framed Bruce’s original songs—songs he began writing in 1968 and simply never stopped. A few of the compositions he performed that night were as fresh as a week old.

His lyrics demand an acquired taste for his biting humour. Perhaps not for all ages, but witty. And sharp. The audience laughed at the jokes, and shared the pain with a sigh.

Was it jazz? Well, it sounded like jazz, but that is not important. The music was secondary: it was the story that stood in the spotlight, as told by two people in an utterly charming performance.

I really can’t wait to hear more of Bruce’s creations, and to learn more about what life looks like through his eyes.

Meanwhile you can enjoy some of Bruce’s creations on his YouTube channel.