Perfection - Bix and Louis
If a perfect thought can be made it can change the world. And it did!
It has not finished it's full and complete effort and it only is directed at 'the people' but it is working and has worked a magik you and I really do not grok or understand. Some of us will change without knowing why. Others like Teilhard de Chardin, who says a full template is needed, might quibble and say the entire spectrum including intellect was not reached.
While listening to Duke Ellington respond to a question about 'his people' I realized I was hearing the same logic and harmony of soul I felt when my father spoke about races and his black musician friends. I felt the reason why my magical name is "Tuatha". Duke turned the question around and made it clear the interviewer did not understand the relationship he had with "his people" was more respectful and inspired by "the people", which is what Tuatha means. I teared up knowing my father's great athletic prowess and intellect had made him a special person at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club where he was a member of the Argonaut Rowing Club that allowed him to move in the upper crust of Toronto life, and ghost write articles for the Globe and Mail. I will never have his style or warmth. I am referring to Duke and my father. The Palace Pier is next to the RCYC.
I am pretty certain Jim (my father wanted and liked us to call him this) met Duke and spent time with him and many others he spoke about including Billie Holiday who would have been his age when she was in Duke's band. I know Jim spent a long night with Billie Holiday after her show with Duke, and I am guessing it started out with Duke and he talking about the things they both loved.
Jim had also been a musician and the Palace Pier people called him 'Twinkle Toes'. The Palace Pier was a magnificent place in his day but had become almost derelict when I used to linger near the lake and reminisce about the stories he told me of a time when he was really living his own life. He had returned from WWII to find a different world awaited. It took him almost all the rest of his life to find another place as good for him as the Palace Pier had been before he volunteered in a frenzy of inebriated friends to go to that big boondoggle I am still learning the history of, to this day. That other place was remote from people and also on the shores of a lake - a much smaller lake hours north of our home in Toronto. There he built a cottage over the last fifteen years or so of his life - there he died as he had told me he wanted to die, doing what he wanted where he had found the greatest love "within" nature!
Louis Armstrong said a lot of musicians tried to play like Bix Beiderbecke but none ever rose to that excellence. The TV documentary says a top professor of music who listened to one song of Louis Armstrong (West End Blues with Earl Hines and the Hot Five) on a record of that era, said it was the perfect three minutes of music.
What really hurt was the description of how much the music meant to a young Bix who never was allowed to play with his idol Louis in public because of the cancer we lightly refer to as racism. I got the feeling he would not have drunk himself to death if he had been able to make sweet music with Louis and other top musicians. He died a miserable death at age 29.
I think Malcolm X got the gist of this dirge in the following from Wikipedia. "During the jive era of the late 1930s and early 1940s, African-Americans began to use the term hip to mean "sophisticated, fashionable and fully up-to-date",. Harry Gibson added the term "the Hipster" to his Harlem stage act in 1944, and in his later autobiography, says he coined it for that purpose. In the 1970s, Gibson remade his act to appeal to contemporary hippies, and is known as the 'original hippie'. The form hippie is attested in print as jazz slang in 1952, but is agreed in later sources to have been in use from the 1940s. Reminiscing about late 1940s Harlem in his 1964 autobiography, Malcolm X referred to the word hippy as a term that African Americans used to describe a specific type of white man who "acted more Negro than Negroes".
When I hear my nephews talk about their cousin as a 'Hipster', he was in a band that played in a Goth Bar where I saw him once I remember Jim who never met any of them. Jim would have loved them all, especially when they all get together at the cottage.
One segment of the TV show had people dancing like wild animals. The voice over commentator said the musicians were in tune with the dancers and it did not matter what race, age or station in life they all came from, just so long as they knew what was happening. Artie Shaw said there was no feeling like it, not sex or any other feeling of love and life!
Last edited by R_Baird; 04-09-2016 at 04:14 AM.
My musical memories are not so varied or nearly as exciting as Jim would regale me with, but I saw Oscar Peterson play in a Chicago Bar and wondered if Bix or Louis would have loved him. I was with my lifelong significant other and we had seen a Bix Beiderbecke retrospective in Indianapolis around that time, when I lived there. It had been presented by Air Canada and Oscar was from that 'Toddling Town' in Canada where Air Canada was headquartered. I have a fan or groupie relationship with Credence and Proud Mary which I imagine is about the Riverboats Louis and Bix played and plied their craft. Love is not what Tina said; "a second hand emotion". Though that might be as close as I ever really get with a person other than Jim.
I saw Tina in a Hotel ballroom in Acapulco as she made a career comeback and finally took control of her life. Recently I saw a show called American Pickers when a Chicago music and record Hall of Famer was evaluating some records they had bought. The 83 year old man told Danielle that Tina still sent Ike some money now and then. I was at a major bar in Chicago once upon a time when a popular local artist or band covering Tina was playing - it was crowded and I was near the stage singing along with Proud Mary. The lead singer reached out the microphone and I sang the last minute or two of the song. Many are they who have noted my various voices which they have said would make me a radio personality or whatever. Cleopatra (Cicero called enchanting though he was not enchanted with her.) was one of my inspirational teachers in the use of voices.
Tina looked like the dancers to the jungle music in front of Duke at the Cotton Club.
Then there was a time when I saw Tony Bennett work Orion's Roof in Virginia Beach. Man, he worked it! All these things come together in this link.
"Memories, light the corners of our minds, misty watercolour memories... of the way we were."
Streisand has a home near my present abode as I take off to SE Asia and a new adventure of life and soul immortal.
Historical speculation, philosophical argument, literary criticism, case histories, biography, semantic and semiotic analysis, ethnography - all these and more ought to be admissible as ways of telling our stories, and the less concern about method, the better. One becomes fastidious about method only when one has no story to tell.
...The alternative is to remain a shrivelled pseudo-science, useless for everything
except the assembly line production of PH.D.s. - Neil Postman.
Last edited by R_Baird; 04-09-2016 at 05:50 AM.
Louis and Josephine Baker took the world by storm, and they were Ambassadors of a different body politik in Moscow and Berlin. This politik might be what Paul Robeson sought to enable almost a half century later while the CIA poisoned him in the city his son went to school with the daughter of Josef Stalin.
These things are a part of the true culture beyond greed and power which humanity must surely value more if we are to bridge the chasm facing our collective soul.
"Trouble was brewing for African American tenor Roland Hayes before he even stepped onto the stage at the concert house in Berlin that May of 1924. The day before he was to perform, angry protesters had stormed the American embassy and demanded that the embassy forbid Hayes from performing in their city. His performance, a protest letter stated, would most assuredly remind Germans of the “Black Horror on the Rhine,” a term used to describe the French colonial troops who occupied western Germany after the end of WWI.1
Sure enough, as he ascended onto the stage and faced the audience, Berliners began to boo loudly. In spite of the ruckus and noise, Hayes began to sing a lullaby by the nineteenth-century Viennese composer, Franz Schubert. The audience gradually became quiet. After the last notes of the lullaby had slowly drifted into silence, the audience burst into applause. By the end of the evening, newspapers reported, Hayes had stolen Berliners’ hearts. From that time on, listeners called Hayes “a Negro with a white soul.”2
What might have happened if Hitler was there and he felt the mood of 'the people' change?
Know what is in front of your face
and what is hidden from you
will be disclosed.
– Gospel of Thomas
A couple of decades after the Duke had heard his music was jungle music another 'boy' made history and broke more barriers. This man was blind and though his music may have started out as Jazz it became a fusion of people and sounds. He was the first to refuse to play before segregated audiences and was banned to ever play again in his home state. He made it to the top of country charts for his ballads, and unlike Billie he beat heroin.
Humanity owes this blind man who taught so many how to see, a great debt. I still can sing "Georgia,... Georgia!!"
Last edited by R_Baird; 04-15-2016 at 10:35 PM.
The influence of racism in the media history or history of the medium Jazz continued long after my father's death. Here is an article and book review on a book which attempted to set the record straight.
"Yet history is better than myths, Sudhalter insists, and history clearly tells us that "a distinct, significant, and creative white presence has existed in jazz from its first days," and that black contemporaries were "unhesitating in expressing respect for Bix Beiderbecke, Adrian Rollini, Jack Teagarden, Miff Mole, Frank Trumbauer, Steve Brown, Dave Tough, Bud Freeman, Pee Wee Russell, and numerous other white musicians." The true history of jazz, as Sudhalter sees it, is a "picaresque tale of cooperation, mutual admiration, cross-fertilization; comings-together and driftings-apart -- all despite, rather than because of, the segregation of the larger society."
Recent scholarship has taught us that the term "jazz" was not known in New Orleans but was merely the name that northerners and Californians gave to the music that in New Orleans was called ragtime. Three ragtime bands, the first black and the other two white, arrived in Chicago in 1915-1916: the Creole Band, Tom Brown's band, and what would soon become the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. By January of 1917 the ODJB had moved on to New York for its historic engagement at Reisenweber's Restaurant; on January 30 it made its even more historic first record. As Sudhalter points out, the ODJB seized the opportunity when others faltered: Brown had turned down the Reisenweber's job, and the Creole Band's cornetist, Freddie Keppard, had vetoed a recording contract -- supposedly because he feared that the band's music would be stolen by other bands.
Though the ODJB records contained a certain amount of hokum, they strongly influenced both black and white bands. The next great event was the arrival in Chicago, in 1921, of the white band that came to be known as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Led by the cornetist Paul Mares, a disciple of King Oliver, the band had on clarinet Leon Roppolo, whom Sudhalter calls the first great jazz soloist to record. The trombonist was George Brunis, a mainstay of Dixieland ensembles in New York and Chicago from the mid-1930s through the 1950s, and the bassist was Steve Brown, who had played in his brother Tom's band and would later join Beiderbecke in the orchestras of Jean Goldkette and Paul Whiteman. The Rhythm Kings records, Sudhalter writes, were "loose-limbed and buoyant, mixing flowing solos with tightly knit, propulsive ensembles"; "more relaxed, rhythmically looser" than the records of the ODJB and its imitators, they lacked "the insistently 'peppy' rhythm" so common at the time. In contrast to the vaudeville corniness that marked the earliest (though not so much the later) ODJB reccords, the Rhythm Kings had something of what Sudhalter calls the "stateliness" of New Orleans black bands like King Oliver's. The great black pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton took part in one of the Rhythm Kings' recording sessions -- probably the first racially mixed record date in jazz history.
THE Rhythm Kings records made a strong and lasting impression on a group of high school students in Austin, a suburb west of Chicago, who immediately -- just as in those old Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney films -- decided to form a band. The Austin High Gang and their friends defined the style of Chicago small-band jazz. Its members were also influenced by the only slightly older Beiderbecke, who in early 1924 had begun to record with a roving midwestern band called the Wolverines. In Beiderbecke's playing, Sudhalter tells us, the Gang found "something different, and somehow more immediate" than what they got from the Rhythm Kings records. "His intensity and thoughtfulness, the beauty of what he played ... made him a combination mentor and kindred spirit."
Yet as Sudhalter admits, the Austin High Gang's style was "aggressively forward." Though the musicians imitated Beiderbecke's phrases, their first records have nothing of his spirit. Nervous and edgy, the records are long on intensity but short on beauty. As the cornetist Jimmy McPartland, an original Gang member, confessed, "Bix was a mystery to us.... in a way we didn't know him at all." "
Last edited by R_Baird; 04-10-2016 at 02:27 PM.
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