BOBBY SHINES HIS LIGHT: BOBBY HACKETT, ART HODES, PLACIDE ADAMS, PANAMA FRANCIS (Nice Jazz Festival, July 21, 1975)

I saw Bobby Hackett perform a half-dozen times in the early Seventies, and he impressed me as a reserved, modest man — someone who didn’t want to take the first solo, someone for whom two choruses were enough.  He wasn’t loud; he didn’t assert his right to the spotlight.  But his modesty was balanced by the sweetness and quiet passion he created when he played.  He loved the melody, but he also delighted in the harmonic melodies he could invent while getting through a one-bar passage between two possibly ordinary chords.  And his sound.  And his architectural sense: his playing seemed logical, thoughtful, but every note vibrated with warm love — of the melody, of the song, of the messages he could send to us.  A vibrating serenity full of emotion.

Bobby and Vic Dickenson at Childs Paramount, October 1952.  Photo by Robert Parent

I write all this as prelude to a performance he did late in life (he didn’t live a whole year after this) that was blessedly captured on film.  It’s from the Nice Jazz Festival, July 21, 1975, a six-minute exploration of SWEET LORRAINE with Art Hodes, piano; Placide Adams, string bass; Panama Francis, drums.  I have posted it before, but as part of a much longer “Dixieland” anthology where it was one of the few quiet moments.  I urge you, even if  you have seen and heard it before, to take time for beauty, the beauty Bobby so open-heartedly gave us.  These moments are, as Bobby’s friend Eddie Condon said, “too good to ignore”:

Last night, the astronomers captured photographs of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky, something that they say happens every eight hundred years.  I offer this performance by Bobby as a cosmic marvel in its own way.  There was no one like him, and he hasn’t been equaled or replaced.  Nor will he be.

May your happiness increase!

 

4 responses to “BOBBY SHINES HIS LIGHT: BOBBY HACKETT, ART HODES, PLACIDE ADAMS, PANAMA FRANCIS (Nice Jazz Festival, July 21, 1975)

  1. You honor this gifted musician with your kind, honest, and moving words.

  2. To my ears, Bobby Hackett is a finely polished amalgam of the restrained classicism embodied by Bix alloyed with the melodic grandiosity of Louis.

    I believe he himself did claim Louis as his prime directive.

    Timeless beauty, endlessly inspiring, and a gracious polemic for a cloudy winter day.

  3. Charles Turner

    I heard him in person only twice, once when my father took me with him to a business convention in Miami, ca. 1960. (I was a kid, about 12 or so, and felt like such a grown-up). The convention was at the Doral Hotel in Miami. When we walked in, we saw a poster in the lobby about Bobby playing there, and I thought my father was going to pass out. We went to hear the small group he was leading and sat about ten feet from the band. It was incredible. Bobby came over and talked to us like we were old friends. Saw him again years later at a jazz festival in Austin, Texas. He actually remembered us from years before in Miami. A sweetheart of a man and uniquely gifted. I will never forget him.

  4. Ida Melrose Shoufler

    Oh my this is great!! I am a fan of both of these great musicians, This is music!! Thank you dear Nephew.

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