Waxings & musings. Watching a clip of Your Show of Shows the other day from the early 1950s made me realize that bloggers and TV's pioneers have a lot in common. To blog passionately about jazz or anything else today, you have to believe in your heart that the Web represents the future of content and communication. Logic tells you, of course, that this is the case, since the Internet is faster to access than traditional print, easier to absorb and a lot more fun.
My complaint with many books these days isn't that they're heavy or that fonts are too small (both frequently true). It's that the writing often isn't fast enough. The web has changed the English language and storytelling in more ways than we realize. Online content has to fly. It has to be conversational and get to the point. Fast. Because readers' attention spans fade quickly. So bloggers must constantly push themselves to pick up the pace. On the web, writers are going through what early television writers and performers endured. For bloggers who succeed in satisfying their readers' interests in a flash, the world of tomorrow is plenty exciting.
Benny Goodman. Reader Greg Lee sent along a note last week letting me know about a National Public Radio podcast on Benny Goodman and his overnight success in the mid-1930s. Go here to listen free.
Bobby Scott. Following my post on Friday about Bobby Scott, I received the following from Richard Dubin:
"The Xerox commercial you mention that kicked off the campaign centered on Jackie Eagle's character was shot on April 23, 1975. The production was elaborate, a two-minute piece for initial airing during the 1976 Super Bowl. It told the story of two monks traveling by bus from their cloister in New Jersey to the Xerox building in New York to explore an alternative to the ardors of calligraphy. I was the other monk, the bigger one. What are the chances of two trumpet players turned actors in that spot?"
From Ira Gitler:
"Wonderful post on Bobby Scott. Thanks for including my recollections. After reading it, I went through my 10-inch recordings by Scott and realized that I had written the liner notes for Great Scott, Bobby's first LP for Bethlehem in 1954. In the first paragraph I wrote, "Precocity, awareness and intensity are three words very descriptive of Bobby Scott." In the last paragraph I wrote, "When you listen to these sides, don't judge Bobby Scott as a 17-year-old, for his playing has the merit to stand by itself. You can however bear in mind the 17 in another sense, the vast time which lies ahead of this young man, Look out!" I also remember that Lester Young used to call him 'Bobby Sox.' "
Fables of Faubus. My post last week on Charles Mingus' Fables of Faubus triggered several e-mails. Here are three...
From Sue Mingus:
"Thank you for your post. Just a little clarification: When Charles said he just wrote tunes and put political titles on them, he was essentially referring to two tunes he wrote in the mid-1970s: Remember Rockefeller at Attica and Free Cell Block F Tis Nazi USA, to which he added the titles later based on what was going on at the time.
"Other pieces like Oh Lord Don't Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me," Freedom and Don't Let It Happen Here were definitely political pieces. It isn't that he didn't write political pieces. I was just pointing out that it was one element in a broad swath of composition, unlike the reductive summaries by Ken Burns or Wynton Marsalis of MIngus's musical legacy, heralding him as a civil rights protester and little more."
From Doug Zielke:
"Your post was wide of the mark, very wide! In fact some of it was ridiculous. Insightful, not really. Incite-ful, certainly. Despite your bonfire, I still love my seven tracks of Fables of Faubus. I thought Eisenhower acted judiciously! He did not drag his feet, nor did he "finally" do something about it. He was constantly in contact with Governor Faubus, directly and indirectly, doing his diplomatic best to get him to come to his senses. Eisenhower was smart enough to gather his resources so that when he made the move, other Southern prejudiced
"leaders" would get the message that the time had come and that inevitably integration was going to happen!"
Hal McKusick in concert. Saxophonist Hal McKusick will lead his quartet on June 7th at the Fifth Annual “Strawberry Jazz” Concert at 2 p.m. at the Christ Episcopal Church of Sag Harbor (N.Y.). For ticket prices and more information: (631) 725-0128.
Mary Tyler Moore, Latin-jazz model. Bobby Sanabria sent along a link featuring Mary Tyler Moore's early modeling years. Turns out she appeared on the covers of several Latin albums before her TV comedy break. Go here.
CD Discovery of the Week: Vibraphonist Gary Burton's new album was recorded live at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA, in 2006 and is a reunion of sorts. Bassist Steve Swallow played with Burton's 1967 quartet, and guitarist Pat Metheny joined Burton in 1974. Drummer Antonio Sanchez has been a part of the Pat Metheny Group for 10 years. By bringing together old hands, Burton stretches out in an interesting and relaxed way. When you have a decades-long history with bandmates, you can roll back into yourself a bit and offer expressions that are old and new. (Yes, that's a Peter Max illustration on the cover.)
I never tire of listening to Burton, and this album is no exception. There's always a tug of war going on in Burton's playing. You hear the four-mallet formalism of the early 1960s and the strong fusion influences of the 1970s constantly circling each other. The beauty is that neither side ever truly wins out. Like two tussling brothers, there are no victors, just bouts. Especially smart are Coral and Syndrome. Metheny's solos backed by Burton also have a distinct, almost nostalgic seventies sound.
You can find Gary Burton: Quartet Live! as a download at iTunes or as a CD here.
Oddball Album Cover of the Week. Googie Rene recorded just one near-jazz album: Romesville, in 1959. Rene was a lounge boogie-woogie player who belongs more snugly in the early rock genre than jazz. Despite the LP's dopey track lineup (Cool It at the Coliseum, Flippin' the Pizza, etc.), Rene was joined by quite a big band, including Conrad Gozzo, saxophonists Buddy Collette and Willie Smith, bassist Red Callender and drummer Larry Bunker. The cover design remains a puzzle. I guess it was every guy's dream to take two models to fake ruins and let them strike poses in the parking lot while playing the bongos. Actually, the dream is the car. Looks like a 1959 Ferrari Superamerica to me. And the LP label? Class Records. I kid you not.