It was the kind of New York night not fit for man nor beast. Sleet and wind whipping about, snow banks and ice everywhere. With my ‘49 Dodge slipping and sliding on the Village streets, I make my way to the Vanguard to catch the midnight set. The small sign outside the entrance inconspicuously announces: “Bill Evans Trio.” This is the 1962 edition of the trio, reformed after bassist Scott LaFaro’s death the year before; and this is the club where Bill had played his last sets with
Godmother of the gypsy tramp
half-breed goddess, unparalleled queen
of less is more, effortless weaver
of that old black magic—
your strength lay in the space between
the screaming sax and the scatting singer.
If midnight blue velvet were sound,
The annual celebration of African American History Month is upon us. First proposed by black educators and students at Kent State University in February, 1969, the initial official celebration took place a year later. In 1976, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month during the country’s bicentennial celebration, when he invited Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
For years, Jerry Jazz Musician has conducted and published exclusive interviews with prominent historians on a variety of figures and topics essential to American history that can also be put into the “American American History” category. Some examples:
Biographers discuss John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, W. C. Handy, Cab Calloway, Sam Cooke,
In this short excerpt from David Amram’s 2002 biography Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac, Kerouac talks with Amram about how the “Beatnik crap” that Kerouac and his friends reluctantly represented was “distorting everything,” and “cheapening the memories of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk.” It is an interesting and entertaining view of that era, filled with the vigor, passion, wit and wisdom Kerouac is remembered for.
In January of 1959, we collaborated with a once-in-a-lifetime group of artists on the film Pull My Daisy. In addition to appearing in the film as Mezz McGillicudy, the deranged French horn player in the moth-eaten sweater, I composed the entire score for the film and wrote the music for the title song, “Pull My Daisy,” with lyrics by Jack [Kerouac], Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg.
The idea of making a film based on Jack’s work was easier to
(in response to an invitation
musical and raucous from the fingers
of Wild Bill Davis tickling the keys
of his organ seeking a musical response
by someone and something of equal stature)
Illinois I say accepted the challenge and blew
some blue some very blue blue blue notes
that set listeners