Sunday, April 22, 2012
Terry and Terry on the Steve Allen Tonight Show
In 2009, Terry Joan Pollard died right here in New York City to little or no fanfare. I wrote a whole piece about her on another blog and got nice comments from her brother and bassist Bill Crow. I don't know how many people even knew who she was, but to me she was one of the most talented jazz personalities I ever saw in person and later on the old Steve Allen Tonight Show. Not only was Terry Pollard a top-notch jazz pianist BUT she could also play the vibes. She not only played the vibes but she was as virtuosic a vibes player as any other vibes player I ever saw bar none, and that includes the greatest of the vibes players, Lionel Hampton. As a young man just entering college, I first heard Terry P. on a Terry Gibbs Emarcy LP called Seven Come Eleven. I had already been fascinated by Terry Gibbs's work on the Bethlehem label with the amazing Don Elliott one of the only mellophone players I've ever heard of in jazz then, since, or now. So I expected the liveliest best out of Terry Gibbs, but what a surprise I got when I first saw her photograph on the LP, she was one excitingly pretty and alluring woman, but then when I heard her piano playing, I mean I busted into a long WOW, groovy, and all that cat jazz jive in praise of her. I mean she had no trouble on that LP matching Gibbs's fiery playing, keeping perfect time with him, hitting the ones from the top down with him especially on his blazing version of the old Benny Goodman vehicle "Seven Come Eleven."
How surprised was I to only recently discover Terry Gibbs's Website. To find that T.G. up until January of this year was still performing. But then, how delightfully surprised was I to scroll down the Website and come across Terry's tribute to Terry Joan Pollard by showing a YouTube of Terry and Terry performing on an old 1956 Steve Allen Tonight Show. First they do "Gibberish," then Terry P. gets up off the piano bench and joins Terry G. at the vibes for a wild ride version of Bird's "Now's the Time." You just don't hear jazz played this way anymore. So dig this 5 minutes of jazz ecstasy with Terry G. and Terry P. They are backed by Jerry Segal on drums and Herman Wright on bass--and on "Now's the Time" Steve Allen's at the piano. [I had the privilege of knowing and working with Jerry Segal's son, Jerry, in the 1970s.]
An Old Jazz Cat
for The Daddy O'Daily
Posted by The Daily Growler at 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I only listened to about 4 bars of Ed's latest Brit Pop song "Drunk." I'd'a had to have been stoned and very multilayered drunk to have listened to the whole shebang. It was London kiddie music as far as I was concerned. You listen to it sucking on a lollypop. Why do we here in this country have to tolerate all these Brit Pop Fops coming here to get rich? Why? Don't we have any advanced musical talents in this country? I mean is Lady Gaga the best we can come up with?
I hark back to the days of Prince and Larry Graham. Larry Graham's Graham Central Station album "Release Yourself" is still mesmerizing me. It blows a little pimple-faced Brit like Ed Sheeran out of the water like what would happen if you went duck hunting using a drone loaded with American-citizen-assassinating missiles as your weapon.
Yesterday while searching through my hundreds of CDs, I came across one dedicated to Chuck Berry, off a 1980s cassette I had dubbed onto a CD, with the extra-addition of an album by the late great Johnny Otis, also dubbed off an 1980s cassette. I was amazed by the brilliance of Chuck Berry's music--especially "Roll Over Beethoven," "Reelin' and a Rockin'," "Back in the USA," and "Carol." I mean you talk about kicking the gong around. Chuck, who a lot of us give credit for inventing rock 'n roll, was a true hard rocker. Listening to him, and this album was originally made in the 1950s, I thought, my God, this dude still leaves White bands like the Eagles sucking lemons in ditches by the side of his long highway. Forget what Chuck makes the foppy Beatles and The Who sound like to me. I mean Chuck made those albums without the use of 20-foot-high stacks of Marshall amps (Jim Marshall, by the way, just died a month or so ago). Without the use of a 240-track recording board. Without the use of cellos or violins or more than one guitar. And Chuck's guitar work is classifiably to me some of the best ever recorded.
I mean Chuck Berry pissed in better time and rhythm than this Ed Sheeran, but then, like I said, I couldn't even listen to more than a handful of bars of Ed's "Drunk." All British pop music reminds me of Lonnie Donnegan the Brit pop fop who brought "Bubble Gum on the Bedpost at Night" or some such stupid song to this country. Hey, USA White kids seem to hover around this crap it's that White. And that's what this crap is, White music. An extension of the droopy drawer British church mode crap the Beatles gave to White kids back in the 1960s. I mean Black music embarrasses USA White kids. First of all, White kids can't swing. As rockers they pogo up and down vertically. They have no horizontal swing in their stiff White bodies. There is a low-grade Murdoch channel here in New York City that is rerunning all the old "Soul Train" teevee shows and I watched one the other night--and damn, those Black kids were innovatin' like MFers to bands like Earth, Wind, and Fire or Al Green or even the Jackson Five. If you'd'a thrown an Ed Sheeran tune into that mix, these Black kids would have been halted. "How the F do we dance to that shit?"
But, hey, Ed Sheeran's soon to be a big sensation over here--any day now. He's under contract to Asylum Records, so, yeah, they'll overpromote his feeble ass and next Grammy Awards he'll be oohed and ahhed over by the airhead White teenagers who buy this crap. I'd even prefer limp-wristed Josh Groban to this little Brit fart.
Me, I'll still be rediggin' Aretha and Ike and Tina and Chuck Berry and...oh yeah, I didn't mention Johnny Otis doin' "The Signifyin' Monkey." USA White kids are still protected from such vulgar music with White innuendo music....
Sorry, even writing about the pop crap that is perpetrated on USA White kids these days makes me gag and puke--oops, sorry Lady Gaga, I puked all over your latest tacky costume.
Peter Pounder (not his real name)
for the Daddy O'Daily
HOW CHARLIE SHAVERS DIED
by Harvey Shapiro
He had a gig
but he was hurting.
His doctor said, play the date,
then check into the hospital.
That night, when the party ended
and the band packed up,
Charlie started to give stuff away—
his watch, his rings—to the women
in the room. Then
he circled the room with his horn
playing: “For all I know we may never meet again.”
At this point, the man who was telling the story
in the locker room at the Manhattan Plaza gym
and who had sung the line slowly, with
a pause between each word, began to cry.
Posted by The Daily Growler at 11:05 AM
Sunday, April 8, 2012
The Prez Ain't the President No More
The first time I heard the Prez was when I bought an LP, not because Prez was on it, I'd never heard Prez that I knew of, I was just a stupid kid, but the LP had a cool cover that caught my attention. A human dude was standing under a light pole smoking a cigarette and carrying an overcoat while walking past him went this real cat walking upright, smoking a cigarette, and carrying a trumpet under his left foreleg. It was an Epic album titled "Lester Leaps In," an album that after I bought it I realized it featured Lester Young, the Prez, with the early-day (mid-to-late 1930s) Kansas City smokin' Count Basie Orchestra.
Here's the LP...
I knew who Count Basie was. In my brother's record collection was a 78 rpm Decca album of Count Basie with the All-American Rhythm Section: Walter Page, bass; Freddie Greene, guitar; and Papa Jo Jones on drums. An album that showcased Basie in a laid-back mood playing some cool blues, like "The Dozens," "How Long, How Long," "Boogie-Woogie," "Your Red Wagon," etc. And I had heard of the Basie Kansas City band he had taken over from Bennie Moten in the mid-1930s, but I'd never heard the band and certainly I'd never heard Prez, though I knew slightly of Prez through his relationship with Billie Holiday.
Listening to this LP blew my mind. I couldn't believe what I heard. The damndest tenor saxophone blowin' I'd ever heard in my life. I knew Coleman Hawkins as the king of the saxophone but honestly I'd never really gotten that deep into Hawk. Yes, the sides he had made in France with Django Rinehart and a French pick-up band had blown me away--and listening to those sides even today amazes me--they swing so hard Django has to let out a "yeah" yell during one of them! But with Prez--I mean, Prez was so different from Hawk. So much cooler. So much more sweet in his approach to the tenor, and yet so swingin', so right on the money with his punctuations and lines, drivin' along right on the beat--and, yes, he was leapin' in at just the right time. "Lady Be Good" drove me crazy, man, crazy, and I played it over and over--but also "12th Street Rag" and "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie" and "Boogie-Woogie"--I mean I wore that LP out in no time.
From then on I was hung up on Prez. I buried my ears in that LP and then any other LPs I could afford, including the Jazz at the Philharmonic volumes Norman Granz issued in the early fifties, especially the volume with Prez and Bird on the same stage. By then, too, I was solidly into the Bird; Bird and Diz; especially that Norman Granz Mercury issue titled "Bird and Diz" with Thelonious Monk, Red Callendar, and Buddy Rich backing them up.
Down through the years I bought as many of Prez's LPs as I could get my hand on. Then came the cassette era--and I got better acquainted with Prez. Then came the CD era. And now I have a whole lot of Prez CDs. In the late 1990s, I got a job where I had my own computer, an iMac Blueberry, and soon I discovered eBay. I started buying stuff on eBay by the hundreds. That was the only way I could save money, and I was making good bucks in those days. I couldn't save money except by immediately turning my excess monies into items I started buying on eBay. One day, I just happened to search for "Lester Young" items and lo and behold, I found something I'd always dreamed of owning, Lester Young's original 78 rpm recordings, starting with all the Philo issues--Philo being Norman Granz's 78 rpm recording company that he later due to the Philco Corporation forcing him to had to change the name to Aladdin records. I began to buy as many of these eBay-listed Lester Young Philos and Aladdins as I could, eventually ending up with a collection that has about 40 of these early Prez recordings in it, plus 40 or more other artists's 78 rpms, too, like Chu Berry; and, yes, Coleman Hawkins; Duke Ellington's Mercer label recordings; the recordings of one of my other fav tenor players, the obscure Julian Dash; the recordings of Teddy Bunn the amazing guitar player; the recordings of Sammy Bentson; the recordings of Mercy Dee Walton; the recordings of Hazel Scott, et al., to the point where now I have this huge collection of 78 rpm recordings covering one whole corner of a room in my apartment. And, yes, I bought a Califone record player that plays 78 rpms as well as 16 rpms, 33 1/3 rpms, and 45 rpms. I was very proud of my 78 rpm collection, but especially my Prez collection. I had paid upwards of $25 for some of my Prez's but usually I could get them for say $15.99. At the same time I also began buying Prez collectibles like old JATP concert programs, like original Prez promo photographs, like Down Beat magazines with articles on Prez, especially the one with Prez's Blind-fold Test, those wonderful old Down Beat pages run by Leonard Feather where he played records for jazz stars and asked them if they knew who the performers were. As a result, I now own a huge collection of Prez 78s and collectibles--the most expensive being some old Gale Agency flyers for Prez's records and one Kansas City concert poster where Prez is featured on a bill with R&B star Ruth Brown and boxing great Joe Lewis.
One day I'm on my way to a paper show with one of my good friends and blues record collectors and I happened to mention my Prez collection. He laughed at me. I got a little pissed and asked him what he meant by so snide a laugh. "Cause, you know, today, those 78s are worthless. I remember when a Philo 'DB Blues' [Prez's first record released under his own name--right after he came out of the army] sold for as much as $400; now you can't get dick shit for them."
And now I realize what my friend was saying. I've noticed now on eBay Lester Young 78s do not sell at any price.
The modern world cares nothing about 78 rpm records anymore. Even when I explain that 78s are as close as you can get to performers actually blowing--78s were mastered directly from the studio blowing--performers blowing into an old RCA mic directly into the mastering groove cutter--then the actual 78s pressed directly off that master. Today, there is a current market for Prez's LPs, but soon that market will dry up, too. Young collectors are now going for these Mosaic CD packages, all these remixed and reengineered rerecordings--and yes they are coolly free of scratches and clicks and things, but the actual artist blowing into the original mic is now miles away from those original sounds--he's remastered into another world.
I just was given a Mosaic set of all the Lionel Hampton RCA Victor recordings from 1937 to 1941--a truly wonderful bunch of recordings where Hamp uses musicians from the Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington Orks in small-group settings. Included in this Mosaic set is a recording Hamp made with the Nat "King" Cole Trio--"Central Avenue Breakdown" on one side and "Jack the Bellboy" on the other. I just happen to have the original 78 and I got it out and compared it to the Mosaic reengineered version. There's a difference--the original 78 is more LIVE, more in your face like you are right there in the studio with the boys whereas the Mosaic remakes are clean and the sound is good, but--hey, you don't hear the instruments as clearly as you do on the 78s.
So here I am stuck with a great collection of Lester Young recordings and collectibles--and now, Prez is pretty much forgotten in the world of new-kids-on-the-block jazz, a jazz that to me, as I've said before, is dominated by White kids--White kids who play according to what their teachers in music schools and colleges have taught them how to play jazz and read jazz--and they don't have very good ears and they aren't very improvisational--even hip-hoppers seem more improvisational than modern-day jazz performers. I can tell when a guy or gal has learned to play from reading a score. Yes, the old cats, like Prez, could read, but what they read were like head charts, quickly sketched out sketches of what the session leader wanted them to play.
So here I sit with my wonderful collection of Prez items watching as their values diminish with every passing era. And now, even these 78 rpms are available to download all over the Internet and on YouTube...
And I suppose that's what I should do, put my collection on YouTube, but shit, that's no way to listen to these wonderful old things.
The Obsolete Jazz Enthusiast
Posted by The Daily Growler at 12:53 AM
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The Worst Music in the World
Here's who I can't stand: Thom Jayne; Josh Groban; John Tesh; David Foster--and yet these creepy guys get the best gigs in the world--oh, yes, I forgot, Chris Botti--throw him in this mix, too. I mean, yes, these guys are very well-trained musicians and yes they know their instruments very well--and yes Josh Groban has a sweet baby voice that women go ape over--but these guys for the most part drive me batty.
I listened to this Thom Jayne tonight on the PBS kiddie channel here in New York City. These guys are so arrogant. And the players who are in their bands look at them so adoringly--like Thom Jayne's woman fiddle player--and all these bands have babe fiddle players and Thom has a babe bass player--but the music is what we old cats used to call droopy-drawer music. It's too scripted; not improvisational at all. God, it's boring. I endured two Thom Jayne tunes and both were in the same key and sounded like the same tune. BORING, Thom, super BORING. They reminded me of Oregon, a band that actually got recognition in the jazz world; why I don't know; they couldn't swing for shit.
In order to wash this Thom Jayne out of my brain I had to listen to Lester Young for about an hour. Lester on "Lady Be Good" from back in the 1930s with the Count Basie KC band. Lester's solo on that mover and shaker charmed me back down off that Thom Jayne trip that was drivin' me out of my mother-forkin' mind. Lester brought me back; then Lester cooled me down further on "Shoe Shine Boy," from that same recording session, Lester's first with Basie and Jo Jones and Tatie Smith and Walter Page and Freddie Greene in Chicago.
How do these boring bastards get the enormous funding needed for their shows? Like this Canadian fop, David Foster. Where the hell did he come from? And you talk about an arrogant bastard. And he featured this girl singer with a mouth big enough to park your SUV in singing "Love For Sale." I wouldn't buy a nickel's worth of love from her--follow her up the stairs, not in this life. I remember Sarah Vaughn singing it. Ella Fitzgerald. That's how "Love For Sale" should be sung--and you damn right I'd follow Sarah up those stairs, no matter how many flights.
And John Tesh. I see PBS is giving this droopy-drawer fop another big show with a huge orchestra behind him. Howard Stern calls John Tesh the Blond Frankenstein, and that's exactly what he is. Playing his "Learn to play the piano in ten easy lessons" piano and executing his limp tunes as though he's Franz Liszt. Lord a mercy, I'd rather hear myself play my beautiful Kay Jimmy Reed-model guitar, which I can't play for shit, than listen to John Tesh at his best (his worst). Hey, John, what ever happened to Yanni? And while we're on a "What ever happened to" kick, whatever happened to Kenny G? Don't tell me; leave him buried in the cut-out bins out there somewhere.
Professional jealousy? No way. I can swing when I sing or play the piano. Or work with my friends. I work with some blues bands here in NYC who could blow smoke up John Tesh's ass and send him on a rocket ride to Mars--except Mars would reject that freak as too weird for outer space.
Just thought I'd let you know my feelings.
Peter Pounder (not his real name)
Posted by The Daily Growler at 9:19 PM