Coleman “Hawk” Hawkins was the first great jazz saxophonist. It’s hard to imagine, but before him the tenor sax wasn’t really considered a jazz instrument. Though he started his career with big band greats like Fletcher Henderson, Hawkins was able to adapt his style to keep up with changing times. In the 1940’s he became one of the pioneers of bebop music. A credible sounding You Tube commenter says this clip is from a 1958 broadcast of the “Art Ford Jazz Party” which was a show out of Newark, NJ.
The lyrics to the song “Indian Summer” suggest that it’s a sad time of dying dreams, broken promises and missed opportunities. It’s Indian summer here in the Midwest right now and I just love it! It feels like a nice warm goodbye hug from summertime to me. I suppose the Dorsey/Sinatra version of the song is great when you’ve got the blues in any season. But when I go out in my shirt sleeves to enjoy the final jacket free days of the year, it’s the Hawk I’ll take walking!
In 1905 Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe aka Jelly Roll Morton wrote “The Jelly Roll Blues” and in 1915 it became the first jazz song ever published.
And here’s his historic song:
Over the next century some absolutely amazing things happened in the world of jazz. All of which, one year ago today, led to me having something to write about in this blog!
A chat with a jazz loving friend led me to post… a video that’s no longer available but here’s something similar:
At the beginning of that first post I explained that I wanted to share some of awesome tunes culled from conversations and then, get this, at the bottom of the page I typed absolutely nothing! Can you believe it?? I continued to say nothing for three full days before I started turning this into the “Me Show” that we all know and love. It was a full three weeks before the transformation was complete. I don’t know about you but I call that remarkable restraint for an ego the size of mine!
Since then readers have been forced to plumb the depths of my clearly disturbed psyche in order to enjoy music from some of the most talented artists ever to walk the planet. I guess you’d have to decide if it’s been worth it. All I know is I’m having a blast writing this thing and as long as the soundtrack keeps coming (from people more clever than me), I will continue to perform my one woman show. (I really should be charging you people.)
Let’s swing it into year two with Sir Duke!
Here’s Cannonball Adderly’s “Jive Samba”
I wanted to find out why Julian “Cannonball” Adderley was called Cannonball but apparently no such anecdote exists. All I was able to find out is that he was originally called Cannon then it morphed into Cannonball at some point. I’m fairly famous (“famous” here meaning patiently tolerated) for my fake answers to life’s mysteries, so naturally I thought one up to share with my adoring public. The problem is the only explanation I could come up with involving a young man, a cannon, and some balls was… decidedly Freudian so I thought it best not to share.
Still, it’s an awesome song isn’t it?
“Teo” is from the 1961 album “Someday My Prince Will Come” and it’s written in honor of Miles’ friend and producer Teo Macero. I listened to an interview Teo gave about working with Miles. You could hear the love as he talked about his quirky but gifted friend. Coltrane is featured in two songs on this album. This one and the title track. It was the last time the two men recorded together.
My friend says Coltrane’s face melting solo in this song predates mug melting electric guitar solos. With chest puffed out, gut sucked in, and arms akimbo I cry my haughtiest “No way!” Clearly my friend does not listen to the blues! Why, B.B. King’s electric guitar solos could give whole audiences the jowly cheeked basset hound look by ‘56. He was easily melting faces Raiders Of The Lost Ark style by ‘61. There are many artists who predate King by decades whose guitar licks could melt people from the knees up! Go to any blues festival and you’ll see that most of the audience is held together with duct tape and Spackle. I’ve a good mind to go to Twitter and write that man a scathing 140 character rebuttal for having a different opinion than mine! I’m not going to do it. I’m just saying I’ve got a good mind for it is all.
“Live At The Village Vanguard” contains the first recordings of Coltrane’s experimentation with free jazz. The original full length LP contained only three songs. One side was devoted to “Chasin’ The Trane” which is 15 minutes long and is widely considered one of his most important recordings. The other side has two songs, one called “Spiritual” and the other “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” which I’ve played on the thread before (I think). I took this video from the 1997 “The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings”. I’ve already played the shortest song on the original album and neither of the other two songs fit in single a YouTube video. So we’re going with this cool version of “Greensleeves” from the ‘97 box set.
The Village Vanguard club is still there! Unlike Birdland it’s been continuously open at the same address for nearly 75 years now. Performers say the building’s triangular shape makes for amazing acoustics and the creative energy of the spirits who have passed through that place must be amazing. When I get to New York one day I am so there! I have no jazz loving friends IRL. I have no choice but to either drag a reluctant country music fan or wait for hijack one of my internet jazz friends. I just hope no one minds sippin’ Roy Rogers with me while I attempt to dampen my fan girl giddiness about the ghosts of jazz greats past.
Totally left field train of thought inspired by today’s video: I think the improved ability to detect and diagnose “disorders” in children is a mixed blessing at best. (Thought has nothing to do with my kiddo. She’s fine.)
Charlie “Bird” Parker was brilliant and, like many geniuses, left us too soon. The internet says there aren’t many live performances by him on film but You Tube has a few. I chose this one with pre-bent trumpet Dizzy Gillespie because I love them both. It’s from 1951 and the tune they’re playing is called “Hot House.” Apparently the two men were not friends. All accounts indicate that Charlie’s addiction did not make him very pleasant company. Luckily, for these two men, friendship was not a prerequisite for great music.
Back in the late 90’s when I lived in California I drove a 1978 Dodge. It didn’t have a rag top but a couple of the windows sorta worked. When the wind blew just right, I could actually detect the aroma of springtime orange blossoms over the scent of burning motor oil. To this day the smell of imminent engine failure makes me pine for my San Fernando Valley home.