(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Parker

“For fast acting relief, try slowing down”*…

 

Jem Finer’s initial calculations for his Longplayer project

From the newsletter of the Long Now Foundation

Time is evoked in music in countless ways. In the first article in this series, we explored some of the long-term themes in Brian Eno’s work and traced that influence to his involvement with the 10,000-Year Clock. Through generative music — a compositional technique that uses a small set of rules to generate many unique outcomes — Eno created expansive compositions theoretically capable of lasting over extremely long periods of time. This is precisely the logic behind the 10,000-Year Clock’s Chime Generator.

Questions arise, however, when the extreme potential duration of combinatorially-generated music is taken as a challenge. How does one actually perform a piece that is 1,000 years long? Let’s explore two attempts to answer this question…

John Cage, Jem Finer, and playing music as slowly and for as long as possible: “This is How You Perform a Piece of Music 1,000 Years Long.”

* Lily Tomlin

###

As we take the long view, we might recall that it was on this date in 1941, at Decca Studios, that Charlie Parker made his first commercial recording.  A member of  the Jay McShann Group, he played on “Hootie Blues” and “Swingmatism.”  He went on, of course, to become known for his virtuosity on the sax and for his gift as a composer; he earned the nickname “Bird” as he became a father of bebop.

 source

 

Written by LW

April 30, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Ain’t you heard/ The boogie-woogie rumble/Of a dream deferred?”*…

 

Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library just acquired this original pen-and-brush version of E. Simms Campbell’s nightlife map of Harlem, from 1932. The map, drawn by an illustrator who frequented many of the establishments he depicted, exudes an insider’s pride in the robust music scene in full swing during the Harlem Renaissance.

When he made this map, cartoonist Elmer Simms Campbell was at the beginning of a decades-long career in illustration and commercial art. (Here’s some of his other work, for advertisers and magazines.) Campbell was “one of first commercially successful African-American cartoonists,” writes Rebecca Rego Barry. “He steadily produced artwork for Esquire upon its launch in 1933, and his work was also published in Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, and Playboy.” This map first appeared in Manhattan magazine, as a centerfold, and later showed up in Esquire.

Campbell was friends with Cab Calloway, whose band appears at the bottom left-hand corner of this map. Swann Auction Galleries’ Kir Jordan links to this clip from a 2012 PBS documentary, in which Calloway walks viewers through Campbell’s map, remembering how he “bombed” with his first band at the Savoy Ballroom, and how much he always liked to say the name of the club that called itself “The Yeah, Man.”

More– and a zoomable version of the map– at “An Affectionate 1932 Illustrated Map of Harlem Nightlife.”

* Langston Hughes

###

As we tap our toes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1945 that Miles Davis made his first studio recording. Working with his then-boss Charlie Parker and the other members of his octet, Davis backed singer Rubberlegs Williams.  Two years later Davis led the same group of musicians in recording music released as from the “Miles Davis All-Stars.”

The young Miles Davis

source

 

 

Written by LW

April 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Words are the children of reason and, therefore, can’t explain it”*…

 

Charlie Parker at Jimbo’s Bop City in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson

 

Lewis Watts collaborated with the film maker and writer Pepin Silva to tell the story of the Fillmore music scene in the 1940s and 50s. During this era, one square mile of the Fillmore contained more than two dozen nightclubs and music venues, including well-known spots like Jimbo’s Bop City. Its significant place in African-American musical and cultural history led to the Fillmore district being compared to New York’s Harlem. Few people today know of its rich history, which was thoroughly erased during the district’s redevelopment in the 1960s.

Fundraising is in progress to reprint Lewis Watts and Elizabeth Pepin Silva’s 2006 jazz and blues history, Harlem Of The West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, in an extended form that includes a multimedia website and a traveling museum.

Billie Holiday and Mel Tormé in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson Jr

 

More images at “Harlem of the West“; more on the fundraising campaign here.

* Bill Evans, on jazz

 

###

As we follow the lead sheet, we might send rhythmic birthday greetings to Charles Mingus; he was born on this date in 1922.  Raised in Watts, Mingus came to music in high school, where he picked up the cello, and then the double bass.  After a few years of intense study, he became known as a bass prodigy (touring as a very young man with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton, then Charlie Parker); at the same time, he had begun composing.  In 1952 Mingus co-founded Debut Records with Max Roach so that he could control his own recording career.  Over the next decade he released thirty albums on his own label and on several others– a pace unmatched in the field (except perhaps by Ellington).  He slowed a bit in the 60s, but was by any objective measure remarkably productive.  But in the early 70s he was diagnosed with ALS; his once-formidable bass technique declined, until he could no longer play the instrument.  He continued composing, however, and supervised a number of recordings before his death.  At the time of his death, Mingus was working on an album named after him with Joni Mitchell, which included lyrics added by Mitchell to Mingus compositions, including “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”  The album featured performances by Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and another influential bassist and composer, Jaco Pastorius.  Mingus died, at 56, in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he had traveled for treatment; his ashes were scattered in the Ganges River.

 source

 

Written by LW

April 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“It’s the stories, man; it’s the stories!”*…

Zachary Kanin

Readers who are readers will be delighted to discover (if they haven’t already) Narrative Magazine, a wonderful web-based literary review (though there is also a thrice-yearly hard copy edition).  Featuring fiction from the likes of Ann Beattie, Richard Bausch, James Salter, Elizabeth Benedict, and Amy Bloom, essays from folks like Gail Godwin, Larry McMurtry, and Rick Bass, it also showcases poetry and your correspondent’s special weakness:  cartoons like the one above (use the pull-down on the page at the other end of that link to see other galleries).

The love-child of two Bay Area literati, Narrative is a 501-c3 devoted to Letters. It’s worthy of readers’ attention– and, dare your correspondent suggest, of their support.

* Jazz giant Charlie Parker would hang around a jukebox at one of the clubs he frequented, putting his coins in to play country-western songs. When friends finally asked him, “Why do you listen to that stuff?,” he reportedly replied, “It’s the stories, man, it’s the stories!” (source)…  not altogether apropos, your correspondent confesses; but it is an awesome anecdote…

As we luxuriate in good literature, we might recall that it was on this date in 1812, just before he published the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, that George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron– aka Lord Byron– made his first speech in the House of Lords…  as it happens, a defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire.

Byron in 1813, in Albanian dress, as painted by Thomas Phillips

%d bloggers like this: