V is for jazz vocalist and saxophonist Vi Redd. Vi (Elvira) is the daughter of jazz drummer Alton Redd and her aunt was vocalist Alma Hightower. She spent some time in her youth performing in and around Los Angeles but she left jazz to work for the Board Of Education in the late 1950s but she returned to music in 1962. She played Vegas with Earl Hines and toured the world with greats like Dizzy Gillespie. Here she is performing “Stormy Monday Blue” with Dizzy’s orchestra.
Vi got a teaching certificate from USC and taught school through the 70s. I didn’t move to LA until 1980 so I missed being taught by a jazz legend by one year. Some kids have all the luck!
O is for guitarist Mary Osborne. Mary’s started learning to play piano and violin at age 5 but she was given her first guitar at age 9 and immediately knew that was the instrument she wanted to play. She got her first professional gig when she was still a child, performing on a local radio show. She was paid in Hershey bars. By her teens she was playing with a jazz trio and by her 20s she moved to New York City. Mary worked with several jazz and R&B artists through the 40s, 50s, and 60s. In the 70s, she and her husband started a company that sold guitars and amplifiers and she also taught at Cal State and the local school for the blind. She also managed to record a few more albums in the 70s and she continued to perform live periodically through the 1990s. Here is Mary in 1958 with Coleman Hawkins performing on “Art Ford’s Jazz Party.”
A friend of mine posted an article about another O related topic on Facebook the other day. It seems University of Oregon football fans are making an ‘O’ shaped hand gesture to show their team spirit. It looks like this.
Some Helpful Hannah in the blogosphere pointed out that this hand gesture is also American Sign Language for that most intimate part of the female anatomy. I’d like to add that the tongue out facial expression that this young lady is displaying and that I saw on other photos of fans adds a new dimension of meaning to the sign as I’m sure you can imagine.
The funny thing is that, because this is such an easy sign to make, it’s apparently used quite often with young children. The first time I saw it was my daughter’s “Books and Babies” class where the teacher had the toddlers sign it as they sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Then it turned up again when I watched 30 kindergartners use it while singing the praises of Christmas trees. I, of course, did what any concerned and conscientious parent who is fluent in American Sign Language would do. I sat there and quietly giggled into my fist like a 12-year old until it was over.
PS- I did actually have a quiet word with both teachers after the performances were over. But honestly, as long as no one in the audience knows sign, then no harm done as far as I’m concerned.
This rather fabulous animation of Miles Davis’ “So What” (1959) was done by writer/film maker Dan Cohen. It illustrates the sheet music parts for Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers. He notes in the video comments that he didn’t add the drum notations for Jimmy Cobb but we forgive him because, as I said, it’s fabulous!
Now comes the “magic” part. Watch while I fill this post about a lovely animation and a beautiful piece of music with eupemisms about the functions of my upper digestive tract. No need to thank me. It’s a gift.
Miles Davis was a musical genius. He was also, by many accounts, an abusive bastard. I hope all abuse survivors seek and recieve the help they need but I don’t think this is the forum for that sort of discussion. The only reason I bring it up is I’m currently sporting two black eyes. No I have not been punched in the face (or anywhere else for that matter). Not ever.
So here’s what happened: I have an intestinal “thing.” I’m not gonna discuss it in great detail. What it boils down to is that I have certain dietery restrictions and as long as I follow them it’s really not much more than a minor inconvenience. If I don’t follow the rules… let’s just say, one way or another, belly contents are downloaded at high speeds.
Here’s the problem: The things I’m not supposed to have are REALLY delicious! I’m not naming any names or assigning any blame but the other night at dinner, mistakes were made and cookies were tossed. I don’t mean to brag but I gotta say I am the Venus Williams of the technicolor yawn. So masterful was the jettisoning of the supper cargo that I burst all the tiny blood vessels around my eyes and I even turned the the white of my left eye a lovely blood red.
I felt just fine after the deed was done so I’ve had no choice but to come to work looking like this. They don’t let you call off for being unattractive after all. Since I work with the public, pretty much everyone who sees me does the shock then pity double take. One kind soul even went so far as to offer me an abuse hotline phone number. It’s doubly awkward when folks ask what happened because, in polite company, you can’t really tell people that the shiners are the result of a gastro geyser mishap. I hope it’ll clear up soon but in the meantime, maybe I should stuff cotton in my nostrils and start telling people I’ve had some “work” done.
The song “Laura” was composed in 1945 by David Raskin with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It was adapted from the theme for the 1944 movie of the same name. Charlie Parker recorded the song for his 1950 album “Charlie Parker With Strings” (not to be confused with his 1949 album “Charlie Parker With Strings.”)
My Beautiful Cousin was named after this Beautiful Song. Her father, my Beautiful Uncle, chose it because he liked the lyrics. She and I were born two weeks apart and we lived across the street from each other. For the first 9 years of our lives, we were raised like twins. We’re not even close to “identical cousins” but we were definitely a “… pair of matching bookends.” We shared wardrobes, birthday parties, and most weekends a (slightly damp) trundle bed. We were thick as thieves so naturally we fought like feral cats. She moved to California when we were 9 (joint custody stuff) and that ended the twinning and the fighting but we are still close.
Family conscensus says that I am the Kathy of our twin cousin duo and she is the Patty. I’m not sure what it says about our family that *I* get to be the classy one! My Beautiful Cousin says she just wants to be whichever one was hotter. That’s ridiculous, of course, because they were both played by Patty Duke. Besides, everyone knows I’M the hot one! (Hee hee hee, I get to say that because she’ll never read this anyway!)
“How Are Things In Glocca Morra” was composed by Burton Lane and the lyrics were written by E. Y. Harburg. It was first introduced in 1947 in the musical “Finnian’s Rainbow” but it has since become a jazz standard. Sonny Rollins recorded it on his Blue Note debut album “Sonny Rollins, Volume One.” It’s a beautiful song for a warm, sunny, beautiful St Patrick’s Day.
Irish people have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for over 1000 years but the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York in 1762. It’s such a big holiday in Chicago (my home town) that, in addition to the 50 billion parades, they dye the river green to celebrate the occasion.
Chicago River Dyed Green
I never wear green on St. Patrick’s Day on account of unpleasantness not worth dredging up here. I will, however, be making corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes for dinner because some traditions are just too darned delicious to ignore!
Philly Joe Jones started out in 1947 as the house drummer at Café Society where he played with many of top bebop musicians of the day. His biggest influences were Tadd Dameron and Miles Davis. He toured with Miles for a few years and in 1958 he started leading his own groups. In 1968 he moved to London and became a music educator. In 1981 he the group Dameronia which played the compositions of his mentor Tadd Dameron. Jones continued working with the group until his passing in 1981. This is a drum solo is featured on a DVD series of solos I believe. No song here. Just rhythmic awesomeness. Side note: Apparently jazz man is not an occupation that comes with a dental plan.
The solo quite accurately mirrors my heart rate at the moment. Why?
My T-Minus Two Days Until Party Checklist
- Room reserved: Check!
- Decorations acquired: Check!
- Gifts bought: Check!
- Cake ordered: Check!
- Alarmingly large guest list: Check!
- Nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something vital: Check!
- Vow to join a “No holidays allowed” religion: Taken!
Please excuse me while I go spend a relaxing evening with my head tucked between my knees…
Shelly Manne came from a musical family. His father and uncles all were drummers. He began working in nightclubs when he was just a teenager but he rose to prominence when he began working for Woody Herman and Stan Kenton. He moved to California in the 50s and became a central figure in the West Coast jazz movement. When jazz popularity began to wane, Shelly switched his career focus to television and film work. He collaborated with Henry Mancini on a number of films including “Pink Panther” and “Breakfast At Tiffanys.” Here is Shelly Manne and His Men performing “Straight, No Chaser” (Thelonius Monk 1951).
I never really thought about just how much jazz was woven into the soundtrack of my youth that I never even noticed! Case in point, Shelly Manne worked on the very mediocre cartoon “The Ant And The Aardvark.” I watched the show religiously when I was a kid but I was so busy laughing at the mindless violence and the inexplicable ethnic/regional stereotypes that I never even noticed the great soundtrack in the background. I’m a John Byner fan but all I could think as I was watching the cartoon today was “man if he’d just pipe down this show might actually be entertaining!”
The clip is from the 1958 French movie Ascenseur pour l’échafaud. It was called Elevator to the Gallows when it was released in the US. It’s a thriller about love, intrigue, and murder (’cause what else would a thriller be about). The beautiful woman in the clip is Jeanne Moreau playing the character Florence Carala. I haven’t seen the movie but I read the synopsis. I think this must be the part where she thinks her murdering boyfriend has run off with another woman so she’s sad. He hasn’t run off, he’s in the titular elevator but you’ll get no more spoilers from me.
The internet says Miles Davis improvised the soundtrack to this movie in 5 hours. He sipped champagne with Jeanne and director Louis Malle during the recording session. I believe this song is called “Générique” which Google translates to “Generic.” I’m thinking something is probably lost in the translation there.
And now it’s time for another tale from my misspent youth. My friends and I used to love to hang out at the Bonaventure hotel because we were broke and loitering was free. The well-to-do make for fascinating people watching! The other great thing about the Bonaventure is the elevators. They are glass and they run up the outside of the 35 story building. The view is spectacular plus, if you jump on the way down you get a millisecond of extra hang time. It’s not much but it still makes ya feel like Supergirl! (Your gender may vary.)
Sonny Rollins composed “Oleo” in 1954 and Miles Davis recorded the song on the album “Bags Groove.” Miles also recorded two of Rollins’ other compositions on that album and they have all become jazz standards. This video is from Denmark 1965 with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (NHOP) on bass, and Alan Dawson on drums.
“Oleo” got its name from oleomargarine the butter substitute. Apparently it was all the rage back then. Even though there are lower fat alternatives these days, I haven’t been substituting much butter this delicious holiday season. But the holidays are over now. I had generous visits from The Great Pumpkin, The Horn Of Plenty, The Sugar Plum Faeries, and Kwanzaa’s Dili of Soul Food (if that’s not a thing it should be). I also seem to have had a visit from some sort of evil mythical pants tightening creature because I know four months of near constant carbohydrate consumption could not possibly have done this much damage! So, in addition to my “Blog 100 Days” pledge, I’m starting a 100 day “Put The Friggin’ Cookie Down And Have A Salad Already” pledge… right after I finish this bag of cookies. What?? They’re Milanos!
Despite Dizzy’s claim, this song is not called “Turn Loose Them Chitlins Baby ‘Cause Daddy Wanna Grease Boogaloo” nor was it written by James Moody. It’s called “Cherokee” and it was written by Ray Noble in 1936. Moody interprets it masterfully of course. This performance is a 1968 concert in Copenhagen and, presumably it was filmed for television.
Judging by the slow rate of speech in the introductions, I assume the spoken parts were being translated. When Dizzy shouted the bogus title I felt a pang of sympathy for the poor interpreter. I’m not sure what Dizzy had in mind when he chose that particular phrase, but I know the interpreter had a Maalox moment when s/he heard it! I ran the subtitles through Google translator to see if I could make sense of what s/he came up with. Here’s what I got back “Drop dell are loose, my slut, for now Dad out here and souls.” I have no idea what that means but I’m guessing it has nothing to do with eating boiled pig intestine (chitterlings). Apparently it is funny though because the audience laughed right on cue. Of course no ethical interpreter would ever distort anyone’s message on purpose but mistranslations do happen sometimes which brings a question to my mind. I wonder if most performers would be angry if they found out their joke had not been translated accurately if it got the laugh anyway.
P.S. I did a jive to English translation of Dizzy’s title then ran it through Google to create my own subtitle. Here’s what I got:
Giv mig grafinker baby. Far ønsker at spise. Boogaloo
I hope someone who speaks Danish runs across this at some point and tells me how close I got to what I wanted to say. BTW it blows my mind that there actually is a Danish word for chitterlings!