Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / Themes / Music & Art /
Bird, Monk …
One of the great jazz drummers, Jo Jones I think, told of an early lesson he got from Charlie Parker when he was just learning. Bird told him he had to master multiple rhythms. Bird sat at the drums, his alto sax hanging from his neck, kicked a charleston rhythm with his left foot, high-hatted a second rhythm with his right foot, sticked a third rhythm with his left hand, and a fourth with his right. Understand: Bird was a reed man, not a drummer. But he could do it, easily: was teaching it: with no special preparation. Bird could do just about anything.
Jazz has endured because it doesn’t have a beginning or an ending. It’s a moment.
If I run across my source for that story I’ll confirm or correct my citation and quote what the teller actually said. The point remains, whatever the details. I tell the story today as I am about to rewatch the video of Thelonius Monk, Straight, No Chaser. I prep my point further with another memory:
In the 1950s I saw live jazz regularly. I probably saw Basie more than any other group large or small. You’d be hard put to find anyone I didn’t see at least once: Benny Goodman, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Bud Powell … Many I saw two or thee times: Lester Young, Duke Ellington … And some I saw again and again, no band (other than Basie’s) more than Horace Silver’s. I loved Horace, and Horace regularly played New York City. I had most of the records: and Horace played the clubs very much the way he’d recorded: you could lip synch the numbers. Solos varied, but intros, turnarounds … would be much the same: just great. But I especially loved to watch Horace: the man, playing the piano. Oh, I didn’t know what the hell his fingers were doing: but I could follow his multiple body rhythms. Horace would tap his left heel on the beat, his left toes off the beat. His right foot would jitterbug to include use of the pedals. His head would accent the rhythm. His hands were doing the playing, and Man, could he play … but the rest of his body was completely into it also: shoulders, elbows: but all different accents! Listen to a good Latin samba rhythm section sometime — weird 1/16th combinations, fractions in thirds … — and you’ll have an idea what Horace looked like as he played.
I read about Bird, I thought, Oh yeah, and thought of Horace Silver.
Ah, but now Monk! Monk routinely played so many multiple rhythms I could never isolate any single pair of rhythms!
Why wasn’t it very popular? Are you kidding? Who has the intellect? Bach or Mozart would be busy trying to follow it.
No Beginning or End
2015 06 18 Jan likes Jeopardy on TV. I wanna watch a movie, or read to her: I have to wait while she’s glued to Alex Trebeck. But good things can follow from anything: the other evening a category announced was Painters’ Quotes: somebody was credited with having said that “Critics said that his work had no beginning and no end: that the critics thought that was a bad thing; no, just the opposite.” “I never heard that”, I said, but it’s the kind of thing Jackson Pollock would have said. Sho’ nuff, that was the “answer”. Jan, as always, was very impressed: I “knew the answer, I wasn’t even listening to the show.
But dig it, it’s the same point as that above.
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