The little world we know as jazz has moved so quickly in its hundred-plus years that sometimes it seems precariously balanced between the beloved Living and the heroic Dead. I can go out in New York City to hear people I admire tremendously blow breath through horns and out of mouths, to make music right in front of me. But at times jazz seems like a well-tended graveyard, with death announcements hitting me between the eyes every morning, adding to the great graveyard where Buster, Bessie, Billie, Bean, Brownie, Blanton, Ben, Bix, Big Sid, and Bunny are buried.
Where the music I am about to present — thanks to our great friend “Davey Tough” — fits in this formulation is a large charming paradox. I do not think any of the players on this transcription disc, recorded before my birth, are alive in 2020. But their music is resoundingly alive, and their ability to make a shining personal statement in sixteen bars, a time span of under thirty seconds, is marvelous. Their names are announced, and you can read more on the label.
What’s the moral?
Emulate our great heroes, by doing something so well that when our bodies have said, “All right, that’s enough!” our selves live on.
And like “Davey Tough,” share your joys generously.
And a postscript: if you don’t know the artwork of the endearingly imaginative Ivana Falconi Allen, you are missing work as sharply realized and as delightful as any jazz solo you cherish. Here is her website, full of sweet shocks.
May your happiness increase!