INSPIRATION’S SOURCES

sicilia-2008-ms-and-yucatan-portraits-093

People who live for jazz recordings and performances are often surprised to find that jazz musicians need a more balanced diet — what Ruby Braff called “aesthetic vitamins.”  Coleman Hawkins listened to the “modern classical music” of his day, as did Bix, and Louis drew energy and solace from John McCormack records.  The anecdotes below are testimony from most illustrious sources.  And, since the universe seems occasionally to operate harmoniously, they came to me — independently — in the last two days.

First, from Dan Morgenstern about his hero and mine, Vic Dickenson:

When I interviewed Vic Dickenson years ago and asked him what trombone playing he had listened to in his formative years (making the point, as you will see, wrongly, that trombone playing back then (Vic b. 1906) was of the tailgate variety) he didn’t say anything but went to his small collection of records, pulled out an old 12-inch 78, and put it on. It was a beautiful version of Celeste Aida by Arthur Pryor, Sousa’s trombone soloist and assistant conductor before going out on his own, and most certainly known to Tommy Dorsey. These are the kind of things you won’t learn from most jazz history sources.

And here is a generous website featuring “recordings from the nineteenth century,” where you can hear THERE’LL COME A TIME, made in 1897, featuring Pryor, whose playing is astonishingly mobile.  Although the link probably does not work within this post, visit http://home.clara.net/rfwilmut/19thcent/19th.html.

Then, taking it one step beyond (from appreciation and immersion to actual performance), Sam Parkins testifies:

No one thinks about jazz people’s interest in classical music. Bird listening to Bartok, that awesome tale of Dave McKenna playing the Ravel Piano Concerto chilling out after a record date. “But Dave – you can’t read music -” “Yeah I know. I learned it off a record”. And a friend staying in a hotel in Chicago where Earl Hines was playing. He comes down for breakfast late; after he goes to the lobby and the door to the nightclub is ajar. Hears piano. By the bare single ‘off duty’ light Hines is working on Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 111 — the really hard one. Oh – & AL Haig only practiced Chopin.

More to come on this subject.

I took the photograph above about ten months ago.  It is my version of “where inspiration comes from.”  Anyone care to guess the country and region?

7 responses to “INSPIRATION’S SOURCES

  1. Looks like Italia. You’ve reported travels to Nova Scotia, Mexico, Ireland & Hawaii in last year, so the Ould Sod might be a better guess.

  2. Lord JzLvs – publish more pictures! – that’s gorgeous. I’ll vote with John Herr but only because you didn’t go to Italy – or did you?…sp

  3. Is it Sicily, or the “collectors items” section of Records Revisited?

  4. Yes, near an area called the Necropoli — ancient caves and tombs. An extraordinarily inspiring place! Remind me about Records Revisited sometime: it didn’t come up whole in my memory bank as one of the old (costly) haunts. Cheers!

  5. André Growald

    Sicily !
    And about the classical thing, let’s not forget Oscar Peterson’s daily drills on classical items !
    Take care
    André

  6. Can you tell me the source of that Sam Parkins quote? I think its really relevant to a project I’m working on!

  7. Email to me, Audrey — for about two years before his death, Sam and I had frequent cyber-conversations. Does this help? Cheers, Michael

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