Daily Archives: March 9, 2011

GONE, GONE, GONE

These beautiful sad pictures were taken by the jazz scholar and drummer Sue Fischer.

And they remind us of the fragility of life — these two young men who gave us so much before death took them.  Tesch’s grave is not even close to where his family is buried; Don Murray is buried with his.

And then there’s the gravestone of the man I’ve spent the last fifty years admiring, even when I didn’t know his name:

Sue didn’t take that picture and tells me that the cemetery is closed to visitors because of some illegal activities that had taken place — which makes me sad, because I had hoped at one point to make a holy pilgrimage to this site.  I hope I will get to do so in this lifetime.

(As a digression: the Beloved, hearing me talk about Sidney for yet another time, asked me, “Why is he so important — to you or to jazz?”  I thought about it for a minute, and said, “He was generous: he made everyone around him sound better.  He was himself: you knew his sound as soon as he started.  He lifted everyone up.  He was adaptable.  Louis loved him.  And he had an enthusiastic life where he didn’t waste a moment — as well, he had a beautiful death.  To die telling a joke among friends seems ideal.”)

These pieces of carved stone make me mournful.  But perhaps they should remind us both that we are all fragile and finite yet the music we make lives on.   Tesch, Don, and Sidney left us so many uplifting beauties that — as long as we remember them with love, as long as we play their records and say, “Wow, that Teschemacher!” or “How beautiful Don Murray sounds — I hear Goodman idolized him fiercely,” or, “Did you hear what Sidney just did behind Lester?  Did you HEAR it?” then these musicians — only theoretically dead — will never vanish.  Offering such loving remembrance of the dead may be scant tribute, but our love reverberates, and the dead, I believe, know.

MOURN THE DEAD, CELEBRATE THE LIVING: CLICK HERE!

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SONNY’S BLUES (and MORE): DIXIELAND MONTEREY, March 4, 2011

When the sweet-natured pianist and singer Carl Sonny Leyland took the stage at Dixieland Monterey, I expected rocking rhythms and down-home singing.  I wasn’t mistaken.

But mere recordings and videos don’t entirely summon up the romping momentum and good humor of this entirely complete player / vocalist / understated showman.  Carl does nothing more dramatic than pat his foot, adjust his glasses, speak softly to the audience between sips of water.  But he’s a jazz and blues volcano, someone whose motion is perpetual and perpetually exciting.  On the surface, he might initially sound like “a boogie-woogie pianist,” which he is — but he has (like Pete Johnson) tugged at the form to make it less restrictive.  He isn’t locked into eight-to-the-bar and his swing is ferocious but light, with echoes of Hines and Fats and Stacy woven into a beautifully organic style.

In this session, he had the finest musical comradeship in bassist Marty Eggers and drummer Jeff Hamilton (“our” Jeff Hamilton, I will point out).  The teamwork of this trio is sensational.  Marty plays the bass with the grace and fervor of Pops Foster or Milton John Hinton, no less.  And Jeff could swing a seventeen-piece band with just his hi-hat, and creates swaying columns of sound all over his set.

Without a hint of antiquarianism, we’re back in the Thirties with Little Brother Montgomery’s SHREVEPORT FAREWELL:

Groovy as a ten-cent movie!  Jimmy Yancey’s JIMMY’S ROCKS:

Sad, wistful, and blue: W.C. Handy’s variations on a folk lament, LOVELESS LOVE:

A favorite rag, BLAME IT ON THE BLUES:

Just an ordinary BOOGIE WOOGIE, inspired by Meade Lux Lewis:

For my dear Aunt Ida Melrose, a rocking OH, BABY:

YANCEY SPECIAL (plus litigation):

You made me what I am today — that’s THE CURSE OF AN ACHING HEART:

Carl’s own RAT CATCHER’S BLUES, funny and gruesome too.  To paraphrase Ogden Nash, “I’d hate to be  / the rat / That Carl is angry / At.”:

An exuberant HINDUSTAN BOOGIE:

And a romping set closer for Pete Johnson and Big Joe Turner, ROLL ‘EM PETE:

Want to learn more?  Visit http://www.carlsonnyleyland.com., http://www.jeffhamiltonjazz.com.  It doesn’t seem that Marty has his own website — he has bigger and better things to do (such as play the bass in a way that reminds me of Walter Page) — but you can find him in many places online and in real life.

Carl Sonny Leyland is so much more authentic than James Baldwin’s story.

THE MUSICIANS GIVE US SO MUCH: CLICK HERE!

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ARE YOU COMING APART?

Feeling fragile?  In bits?  Falling to pieces?  Need to be glued back together?

Sidney Catlett once again has the answer — revealed in this 1945 advertisement:

I think this is the only color photograph of Sidney that I’ve ever seen, and it’s a glorious montage.  Before I saw this ad, I wouldn’t have gotten all that excited about plastics, adhesives, and resins — now I can’t get enough!

Courtesy of eBay, of course!

THE MUSICIANS GIVE US SO MUCH: CLICK HERE!

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