The two words you ache for the most are also the hardest (to find). The clouds rolled back, a burlesque shows curtains rising for the matinee. That big stupid animal waiting to devour me, the crowd waiting. Waiting A bird flew by, I had seen the wires attached to its wings. Indifferent, they clap. She would be back. She always came back, sometimes looking different. The first few times I had asked her where she was, where she had been. "Shhh, just play your horn." I got back at her though. No, not the smacks, those did not mean anything either way. I simply stopped asking. It's what she wanted and it hurt her. She was not around enough to realize one of the floor boards in the hall creaked. It always had. The creak, the flip of the switch and Manha de Carnaval. Even in complete absence of light I could play it well. Always the same ritual. She would drape her jacket over the back of the chair. I would move it, but just a little. Thinking she knew where it was, a miss, fumbling in the dark. Now the blouse was unbuttoned. It rested on the chair. A soft, warm silken skin whose color was fading. She lay on her back, blowing smoke rings which I tried to pierce with final notes, up at the ceiling. "Is anyone coming over?" She always asked, but by now she knew I did not like people, at least not anybody living. All my heroes were dead. All any of us could hope for was distraction. Steady. Feet in the small of my back, the scent of vodka, tobacco, the scent of ruin. Promises murmured with closed eyes. True, but only for that moment. Muscles contract, it's heaven. Fleeting. Heaven, momentary and then exile. The music was a distraction too, but that at least mattered. It had to. There was a semblance of control too. A give and take that did not seem so tawdry. The cold mouthpiece always warmed. I had to have it and she worked with me. On an inspired night I would oil the valves and let my fingers dance. We would tickle the dawn. The last song a repeat of the first, but no one seemed to notice. She always came back. It always came back, the pain of loneliness, a fire kept stoked by the accompanying embarrassment. The two words you ache for most are also the hardest. Good bye.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.