Notes and tones: Yesterday, while strolling in SoHo with my wife, my Blackberry buzzed alerting me to two lovely emails—one from Hal McKusick and the other from David Amram in London. Their notes were so much fun I thought I'd share them with you here.
This one is from Hal...
"Marc—Hi. I just clicked on the "Terry Gibbs" link in your YouTube collection down the right-hand column. As you can see, Terry was something else in Buddy Rich's 1949 band. By the way, that's me on lead alto—right behind Buddy in the middle. And that's Ben Lary on lead tenor.
Back in the 1940s, whenever Buddy's band would go into the Hollywood Palladium for an extended run, we'd also shoot a film at a nearby studio. It was a paying gig on top of the Palladium job, but we had to get up at 5 am and shoot all day. There would be a singer, a dancer, a comedian and several band numbers. The clip you see is the result of one of those all-day band sessions.
Nice work on your part digging it up.—Hal"
And this one is from David...
"Marc—Hi. I am here in Jolly Aulde England, and after hosting recent U.S.A bilingual concerts in English and Spanish (which included audience participation in Swahili, Lakota, Arabic, Hebrew and Mandarin), I am getting the chance to "brush up my Shakespeare," (to paraphrase the lyrics to the song) during my mini-marathon of events here. The variety of speech styles here is staggering.
Back in the 1960s, Miles Davis, while touring England, was invited to an upscale dinner party given in his honor. He sat quietly during the entire evening, not saying a word.
Finally, as dessert was being served, the hostess said. 'Miles, we are so delighted that you could join us for dinner. How do you like being back in London again, where you are so adored by the public?'
"I don't dig it" said Miles.
'And why is that Miles?' asked the hostess.
'Because the people talk funny,' said Miles.
Forty years later, he would have felt even more that way. The variety of accents here in London, now includes new styles of English, created by people from almost every country in the world, which now have been added to the more than 40 distinct regional English accents within London itself. Waking down the streets or listening while having a drink in a pub, is like hearing some great crazy patchwork quilt of sounds.
I am told that the 40 traditional accents within London (often derived from various parts of England over the past century) are even difficult to understand by some Londoners themselves. but that the English treasure these different ways of speaking the language,
I hosted a screening of Kerouac's silent documentary film, Pull My Daisy last night for the Society of British Filmmakers. They roared with laughter at Kerouac's spontaneous narration, where he made up the voices of all the different characters, and told me that they appreciated the variety of musical styles which I used when composing the score, combining jazz and Elizabethan style chamber music, The latter more traditional classical style was used for some of the scenes where a bishop and his wife are trying to have a serious conversation with a bunch of hyperactive nutcases played in the film by poets Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, painters Larry Rivers and Alice Neal, and myself in the role of Mezz McGilluddy, the deranged French hornist.
While the members of the Society of British Filmmakers also liked photographer Robert Frank's camera work, the were not impressed by the non-performances of the cast (since none of us were actors, which we proved by our non-performances).
It was a great way to open the London International Poetry and Song Festival, of which I am the headliner (which means being a guest artist with almost every musical group as well as spontaneously accompanying a series of poets, playwrights and rappers as well as giving a concert each night myself).
So, I don't have time to get into trouble!!
See you when I get back.—David"
Billie and the two Irenes: David Brent Johnson, host of WFIU-FM's Night Lights program, aired a fascinating show recently. Here's a blurb and a link to hear it...
"In 1939 and 1940 Billie Holiday recorded a handful of poignant songs co-written by a good friend of hers, Irene Wilson (later known as Irene Kitchings).
Wilson was grieving over the breakup of her marriage to pianist Teddy Wilson, and Some Other Spring, in particular, was said to have been inspired by her loss. In the mid-1940s Billie Holiday recorded two more songs that many jazz sources credit to Irene Wilson/Kitchings as well: Good Morning Heartache and No Good Man.
The songs were listed as being co-written by “Irene Higginbotham,” who had also written This Will Make You Laugh, recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1941. Irene Higginbotham, according to these jazz sources, was the same woman who had written Some Other Spring, Ghost of Yesterday, and two other songs recorded by Billie Holiday for Columbia (including I’m Pulling Through, which Diana Krall covered on her 2004 CD The Girl in the Other Room). Were they truly the same person?"
The answer is revealed by going here, clicking on the big blue button and listening to David's show.
JazzWax archives: All of the entries that have appeared at JazzWax in the past are archived and available to you.
To access a post dating back to August, simply scroll until you see "Archives" in the right-hand column. Then click on the month when the post appeared and scroll until you find what you're looking for. Or read what you missed.
If you run into trouble, shoot me an e-mail. My address appears automatically when you click on the link at the top of the page on the right.