Sunday, July 25, 2004

Simple Pleasures

One of my greatest worldly kicks is my music.

I'm passionate about old jazz, blues and swing. The music moves me like few other things can. What is it about the music that has this effect on me? I'm not sure if I can adequately articulate it. That would be a job for someone more eloquent than I. I'm not quite sure that I can even put my finger on it.

How do you describe a sensation?

How do you quantify an emotion?

A rather middle-aged lady from the elite New York social scene once asked Fats Waller what jazz was. His simplistic reply, "Lady, if you have to ask then you'll never know.", seems wanting when trying to explain what jazz does to you.

Perhaps I should try to explain it by breaking it down into musical moments that I have enjoyed. Think of it as a musical experiment. Or maybe an intellectual massage.

For this experiment we need a control subject. So grab the person nearest you, shove some hip hop CDs in their hands and banish them to their bedroom.  Okay. Okay. That was really just an excuse to get everyone outta the room so you can perform the experiment in quiet.

Now put on a pot o' joe, light a lucky and put on that dusty old big band recording....don't be afraid, it won't hurt you.

Ideally you want one part Benny Goodman(1936-1938 band, with Harry James and Gene Krupa), two parts Count Basie (any vintage will do), One heaping Tbs. of the Bunny Berrigan trumpet solo from "Did I remember" and one whole Billie Holiday (fresh, not canned).

Add to this concoction, Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll", Two jiggers of Artie Shaw, a pinch of Jimmy Dorsey's "Parade of the milk bottle caps", Turn it up on high heat and mix in Chick Webb to taste.

Pour this over a Glenn Miller ballad and garnish with Larry Clinton's "Heart and soul". Try it with a side of Bessie Smith's immortal 1928 rendition of "After you've gone" just to add some vintage.


If after listening to these recordings, you don't understand my passion, I can only paraphrase Mr. Waller.

"You never will".