Charles Parker, Jr's Birthday
I missed the Charles Parker, Jr., Jazz Festival this year--it's down in Tompkins Square Park this time of year because Parker at one time lived on the northside of Tompkins Square Park briefly, with Chan and his adopted family--Kim--who wasn't Parker's child though Chan claimed Parker adopted her--and he did write a tune called "Kim" and Kim Parker used to be when I met her, one time, I sung at a wedding in the Poconos of one of her best friends, a beauty of a woman who I was making out with like "The Champ" when her brat of a son....
What I didn't miss was listening to Charles Parker, Jr.; in fact, I'm listening to him and Diz now and have been for several hours. I got this bootleg CD of some great Bird & Diz, like, first, B & D in a hotel room in Chitown with Oscar Pettiford playing bass--recorded on a wire recorder by Bob Red Cross, for whom Bird wrote "Red Cross." This is the famous recording of "Sweet Georgia Brown" where Bird is playing tenor sax.
One of the most amazing sessions I listened to tonight was the '47 Carnegie Hall concert that was Dizzy's gig with Parker as his guest. Oh boy, what joy. It was a reunion of Parker and Diz after they split up in California when Parker checked into Camarillo State Hospital to "cool out" from bad heroin that sunk his ship of state and sent him into the depressive pits of the maddening realm.
Now I'm listening to one of my all-time favorite recordings, Bird & Diz on Mercury, Bird and Diz, that's the name of it and it is the cat's meow of be-bop as far as I'm concerned--no, they're not as all-star fiery as they were in the mid-forties when Bird & Diz first formed a band together--Jesus, yes, they played with abandon on those early records, but on this one, wow, it's just cool as hell, with Curley Russell's big upright bass right on and Buddy Rich playing with swinging respect, dropping some of his famous bombs at just the right time, backbeat kickin' the crew on to virtuosic Nirvanas--and on piano is the High Priest himself, one of the true inventors of the original music that led to be-bop; Monk always denied he was a be-bopper, and he wasn't--he carried stride into his own world and when Diz and Bird heard it, the be-bop came together in their heads. Monk is so unique. Don't even try to copy him, and some do, like Joel Forrester, a New York pianist who's been around for several moons, a Columbia U music major, and Joel used to like to think of himself as the white Monk, but he ain't.
One time Joel was playing down at a haunt that I and my rowdy friends frequented to the point we kind'a ran the joint and we were blues musicians well heeled in Monk. One of the rowdiest of my friends, a guitar player, said, "We've got to toss that asshole out on his F-ing ear." I laughed and said I was ready, let's go give him the heave ho. "Wait, I've got a better idea." He got up from his seat and walked over to the restaurant fire extinguisher, a big red one, you know the kind. Next I know my friend jerks that fire extinguisher off the wall and runs back to where Joel's banging away at his Monk impersonations and suddenly from out of a huge swooosh of white cold smoke from that fire extinguisher came Joel on the fly with my friend right behind him fire-extinguishing his bony ass out the door and long gone. I never saw Joel again until one Sunday afternoon years later when I went in a Cajun joint on 23rd and Madison and damn, there was Joel playing a hacked up upright in the back of the joint. Fortunately, the joint was so big and barny I couldn't hear Joel at all.
So today was my Bird day. "An Oscar for Treadwell" is blowing now. Jesus Dizzy is sharp, crackling with trumpetuous fire--Jesus, notes so high only deities can hear them, deities and hep cats who know when to bop instead of bippin'.
I'll bet not one F-ing young soul has heard as much Bird as I have nor will they ever maybe not ever hear any Bird at all. Such a shame. Such an American genius, like Charles Ives, like Diz, like Monk, like Budo, Bud Powell, and all those wonderful music innovators I grew up with and who are now playing "The Stars Spangled Banner" in Heaven--you know the joke.
And Buddy Rich! I know, an asshole, but that's OK with me; when you can play the drums like Buddy you can be an asshole.
Another great musical genius who was an asshole, James Brown, but oh what a glorious asshole James was and if he hadn't of been an asshole he'd a never gotten that sound across--"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and that's the James Brown tune that changed r and b and rock and roll. He put the beat on the 1 and the 3 in Papa. Whoaaaaa, Nellie.
So this was a joyous day for me. No bullshit today, just lollygagging around a fingerpopping to the best music this country has ever produced--
Today's young jazz musician probably has no knowledge of Charles Parker, Jr's, music, oh he's maybe listened to Phil Schaap's Bird Call show every morning on Columbia U radio (sorry, folks, but Phil Schaap bothers me no end--he reaches conclusions only he knows where they came from)--not note-for-note like we had to learn it, every note the MF-er played we learned it; and we had to be as swiftly perfect as he was, too; you know how hard it is to play a Charles Parker, Jr, solo on a piano? Jesus!!
How 'bout we do some Relaxin' with Lee?
for The Daily Growler
Albert Gonzales resigns. Whatever!!!