Thursday, March 13, 2008


I haven't gotten to really let loose in a long-long time, loosen up my wig, like loose wigged out, you dig? Shit, that's it; I miss the old pork-chop-eatin'-at-four-in-the-am dudes, sluggin' down the coffee, still smoky and sweaty but most of all hungry, hungry from bein' high in a groove all night, that is if they found the groove--nothin' worse than a band that can't find the groove. Just like good sex should make you hungry so should good groovin'. Groovin'. It comes from being "in the groove." It comes from old records, the earliest, where you had to get the needle in the groove or you got cacophony and when an old 78 rpm record was playing it looked like it was spinning at that hard 138 beats per--hey, man, we're in the groove now, spinnin' like a top, my little red top, you got me spinnin', spinnin' A'round. Like cookin' came from the kitchen stove. The old chefs used to judge how their food was coming along by the way the lids were jivin' on the pots--when everything was cookin' it was humming along--that bubbling of pot lids, the lid on the pot of red beans, the lid on turnips with fat back, the lid on the red sauce, and don't forget the venison chili over on that back burner, all the lids bubbling in time, in syncopation, dig?--and then the term burnin' came along--that cat's burnin', man--ah, the ironies even in jive. So I dug out some old CDs I hadn't heard in several eons and came across Teddy Charles's Tribute to Lionel Hampton recorded in Hollywood in 1959 with Teddy Cohen (Charles) playing vibes, Hank Jones on piano, Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone, Zoot Sims playing like Prez on tenor (Zoot and Brook later formed a group that got really popular for a while), Art Farmer on trumpet, his brother Addison Farmer on bass, and fine and dandy brushin' Ed Thigpen on drums. Oh those were fine years for jazz, especially jazz in L.A. And I listened to the first cut and it was a really cool contrapuntal beauty of Teddy's arrangement of Charles Christian's "Airmail Special"--and I began to hear the groove--the syncopation, the emphasis on the weak beats that separates jazz musicians from the rest of the music world except for the drum masters of Africa--hittin' the weak beats--watch a black choir swing--they're doin' it--they're syncopatin' boring-ass draggy white Christian hymns--they're swingin' those cross-hanging droopy-drawer hymns and turnin' them groovin' glorious--music being the highest form of spirituality--like when a band is groovin' high, holy Jesus, what a feeling races through your body, you tingle, brothers and sisters, you start shakin', holy ghost like, and then you're noddin' into the deepest part of the groove and when you're truly swingin' you're like in a trance, in the spirit with your deepest ancestral connections--and since I'm an African-genesis believer, then we're all connected when we are entranced by any kind of music back to the most ancients of our polyrhythmical and polymetric inheritance. I always wanted to write music based on instincts.

When did the groove drop out of that groovin' high music? It's still possible to groove high; I like the black ladies, those like Macy Gray who do a lady swing thing with their arrangements--it's cool as hell, and I can groove to most of Macy's stuff and I can see gettin' hooked on a Macy rhythm and gettin' in a slow trance with it.

Teddy Charles and the boyz are playin' "Blue Ham" now--zwingin' it, smokin' it deep into the solar plexus, pattin' that foot, shakin' them shoulders, head noddin' right to left and back tick-tock again, and the boyz are diggin' deep into the groove, they're holding on to the plough, man, whoooo-eeee, it's like mornin' fun, it's like just coolin' out in the groove world--and I like the groove world--where Lester's the President and the hipcats meet and greet and juice and hang loose and get ready for another trip down the swing line--off into swingerland--sweeeet urge, sweeeeet feelin' of relief when the chorus wraps it up--whew, let's do a slow one, boyz, and Teddy and Brushin' Ed Thigpen and On-Time Addison count off into "Moonglow," and the Hamp did all these and this is respect for the Hamp, Hamp the wonder whiz on the vibes on the drums and with two-fingers on a piano--Hamp was the master of the two-finger style piano playin'--check out Hamp's RCA Victor 78 rpm recording of "Central Avenue Breakdown" where Lionel sits at the upper end of the piano bench and plays two-finger style (you point your index fingers like six-shooters at the keys and play the piano with them that way like you were playing the vibes) with Nat Cole on the lower end of the piano bench, the King Cole Trio backin' 'em up--and the ever-wonderful "Jack the Bell Boy" on the flip side--called that because up until CDs came along, you had to get up occasionally and flip the records over.

So Teddy Charles and Hank, Zoot, Bob Brookmeyer, Brushin' Ed, Art, and Addison are easy groovin' on "Stompin' at the Savoy" and a stomp was just another way of swinging, stompin' out the beat, the groove, the slide, then the buck, then the shufflin' off to 52nd Street for some all-night jammin' and some god-damn juicy ribs and maybe some rounds of the President's favorite drink, an Up and Down, gin mixed with port wine. thedailygrowlerhousepianist has actually slugged one of these down and I asked him did it make him feel like Prez and he said, God, how did that man drank these?--though he admitted later he craved another.

And I see Brother Teddy is gonna do "Jack the Bell Boy." Very cool cat this Teddy Charles. And they left some jazz musician jive on the tracks--like Teddy callin' the time and Art and Zoot talkin' bars and shit and 16-measure bridge and shit. I miss it. I miss just goin' out in wherever you were in the USA and finding a jazz bar or lounge with a swingin' band or trio or a chick singer with the bounce and you sit there sippin' and groovin' the night away lost among the gems of ideas that buzzed through your head and made you want to float on up to some higher plain.

for The Daily Growler Charles getting a jazz legends award from Long Island University radio station host Ed German.

While Searching for a Photo of Lionel Hampton Playing the Piano thedailygrowlerpictureresearcher Came Across This Charming Photo,0.jpgWhy it's a young Rudi Guiliani playing the piano--oh, of course we jest, it's young Romano Mussolini playing respects to his railroad-runnin'-on-time dad.

No comments: