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"Tommy Flanagan"- sounds like an Irish gentleman strolling the countryside indeed someone you might think of in a silly way drinking Bailey's and Cream
but what was it Tommy, what was it he happened to be?
Whatever it was he happened to be- he must have been
Something a little more than the cream of a 60 year old bebop dream
Something more than the undying presence of a heavy on this jazz scene.
He must have been something not best "heard not seen" but best "heard" both heard and seen.
"A beautiful cat"- and who will deny this?
But, if you "only" heard the music- oh, if you only heard the music
You "heard" the gentleness and playful nature of one Tommy Flanagan in only two dimensions
You see, to "see" Tommy Flanagan was to know where all of that- simultaneously majestic and cherublike bold, beautiful, bebop-poesy came from.
The soul inside- a beautiful cat, and you just had to see him.
He was the Jazz Poet and sure he played those changes well- spritely, with distinction.
And yet his poetry didn't stop there.
He was also a man of the world a real friendly soul as at home in a village in Germany as in a downhome neighborhood of South Philly
A true master of the art of good humor and who spoke the language of kindness and decency with an uncommon spontaneity and level of invention
He won friendships with people he never even spoke to people smiling to themselves "that cat is a good cat, or I don't know what..:"
It is said perhaps, he smiled with the regularity and consistency of the sixteenth notes in a most classic solo he would have played on Confirmation, Relaxin' at Camarillo, or any other steady cooker he had cooked up and made.
Night after night town after town he essayed that characteristically delightful bebop poetry becoming neither jaded or the older cat you write off as dated.
just all the more charming, so much the more charming... and if you only heard him well - you caught something,
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.