Thursday, 15 January 2009

14 January 2009

like a freckled boxer, meticulously wrapped inside his sharkskin plaid suit with the long drape and the collar falling back and the tie undone for exact sharpness and casualness, sweating and hitching up his horn and writhing into it, and a tone just like Prez Lester Young himself. “You see man Prez has the technical anxieties of a money-making musician, he’s the only one who’s well dressed, see him grow worried when he blows a clinker, but the leader that cool cat tells him not to worry and just blow and blow---the mere sound and serious exuberance of the music is all HE cares about. He’s an artist. He’s teaching young Prez the boxer. Now the others dig!!” The third sax was an alto, 18 year old cool contemplative Charley Parker-type Negro from High School---with a broadgash mouth---taller than the rest---grave---raised his horn and blew into it quietly and thoughtfully and elicited birdlike phrases and architectural Miles Davis logics. These were the children of the great bop innovators. Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans; before him the mad musicians who had paraded on official days and broke up their Sousa marches into ragtime. Then there was swing, and Roy Eldridge vigorous and virile blasting the horn for everything it had in ways of power and logic and subtlety---leaning to it with glittering eyes and a lovely smile and sending it out broadcast to rock the jazzworld. Then had come Charley Parker---a kid in his mother’s woodshed in Kansas City, blowing his taped-up alto among the logs, practicing on rainy days, coming out to watch the old swinging Basie and Benny Moten band that had Hot Lips Page and the rest---Charley Parker leaving home and coming to Harlem, and meeting mad Thelonius Monk and madder Gillespie…Charlie Parker in his early days when he was flipped and walked around in a circle while playing. Somewhat younger than Lester Young, also from KC, that gloomy saintly goof in whom the history of jazz was wrapped: for when he held his horn high and horizontal from his mouth he blew the greatest; and as his hair grew longer and he got lazier and turned to junk, his horn came down halfway; till it finally fell all the way and today wearing his thicksoled shoes so that he can’t feel the sidewalks of life

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