Friday, April 26, 2013

Brazzaville Teen-ager is a triumph.

I just watched Michael Cera's new short film, Brazzaville Teen-ager, and I found it resonant and powerful. Here is a link to the film: This to me is a film about exploring the bargaining stage of grief. It's a bargaining fantasy. Gunther comes to some intuitive understanding that if he makes some self-sacrifice, that he will be rewarded with the continued existence of his aloof father, played in a nice, understated way by Charles Grodin. The idea of bargaining a self sacrifice as a stage of grief is all too common--the deal with God. "I'll be a better person and more like you want me to be if I get to keep my pop." But the bargain is usually a noble self sacrifice. Here Gunther imagines that his self sacrifice must be ignoble. It must be debasing and humiliating. It has to involve the breaking of unwritten rules of social living. It involves crossing a generational barrier--the one separating him from his father. It involves not only his own humiliation and discomfort, but also a humiliating request that a member of that older generation must cross that same generational barrier and enter into a scenario that is as much a fish-out-of-water scene as the one he must endure just to make the request. So the film opens with scenes of the hospital where Gunther's dad is dying, but the sound track is of a conversation Gunther is having with someone of his own generation. Gunther is open and honest about his feelings. He is scared of being alone. He wants answers from his dad before his dad moves on. And hidden in these questions is his own fear of inadequacy. He seeks to define himself and measure himself against his pop. He wants to know philosophy. He wants to know about his father's sexuality and finances--the stuff that is often off limits in cross-generational relationships. He wants to know about his father's fear. "Are you scared?" "Is Death a breeze?" As the film switches to Gunther and his dad in the room together, his questions are answered with less than overt comparisons between his son and the doctors that are treating him. He tells his son that they are good guys that don't think twice about treating a guy so much older. Gunther is told that they laugh, that they get the humor. Gunther does not. He also wants his dad to "drop his life-long cool." Gunther feels small and weak, and this is compounded by the threat of losing his dad. The bargaining fantasy comes to him. He must get over his crippling fear of crossing that generational barrier. He sees his boss humiliate a guy so badly that the co-worker seems physically ill. When Gunther is called into the office, he asks the boss to come with him to where a R&B recording session is going to be happening and sing back-up on some song. He is soundly rejected. The viewer is made to believe that this was not enough. He has to debase and humiliate himself even further. He has to go to the man's house. He has to interrupt his sophisticated, grownup party and insist. When the boss's wife comes to his aid and makes this happen, Gunther weeps. Gunther takes this man to a setting that is as uncomfortable for him as the party was for Gunther. And after it is over, the boss is humiliated and shown that in this world where he is the outsider and the underdog, he is inadequate. He is not good enough. The once dominant boss looks small and weak. On the ride back, they seem to have connected. Miraculously, Gunther's dad is healed. And when they are reunited, the audience expects that things will be different. They are not. With a lilting musical backing track, we see scenes of awkwardness between father and son. Their body language clearly suggests that they are as estranged as ever. Gunther screams his rage at his dad--his impotent rage at the top of his lungs by himself at the bottom of an elevator shaft, still unable to make a connection to his dad. It is as if it is not about the fact that he is unafraid to put himself out there. It is just that his dad is a dick. It is dreamlike and nonsensical and yet really resonant. I love this film. Although a couple of the bit parts--the friend at the bar and the guests at the grownup party seem to deliver their lines in ways that are not quite right, the rest of the film really works. The sound is especially effective as is the pacing. The lingering shots of catatonic thinking really work. The silent resolution is also very nice.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

In a Chick Fil A Marketing Meeting

Boss: Ok whaddya got this week? Marketing Exec: Ok hear me out. Our problem is that people only eat our food when they are hungry. So we need to figure out a reason to eat our food that is not based on hunger. So we thought.....what if.....we could get people to eat our chicken out of spite? Just pure fear and anger making them shovel it in even when they are not hungry. Boss: How would we do that? Marketing Exec: Well that's where you come in. How would you feel about spewing a bunch of bigoted, anti gay hate speech into a microphone? Boss: I am totally in....but then we need to get back to business. Marketing Exec: Well this IS business sir. We want you to go on record and just say some really offensive things and act like any non traditional family is not really a family and really blast gay marriage. Boss: CAN DO! But wait won't that anger the left? Marketing Exec: Look if you are going to wade into the culture war and get people to eat out of spite, you have to piss off someone, and our research says that the left eats healthier. Better to lose them. Boss: Look I hate me some gays, but I really love money. Marketing Exec: It's all good boss. Just go with our plan and you'll have every Chick Fil A in the country full of angry, scared, obese hayseed rubes showing up just to eat for spite. Boss: Sounds like a plan. Now what is this about recalling Jim Henson puppet toys? Marketing Exec: Well we can't be anti gay and be handing out toys to kids that are designed so that the kid sticks his hand up a puppet's ass for fun. Plus in the process, in firing those public television puppets, we might even pull in a few libertarians. Our research shows that they hate public television even more than they love people boycotting in a free market.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Other King

So i am hanging with some chums of mine who love this Rock Band game. I am not exactly a fan, but I was encouraged when the Beatles version came out. I figured it has to be a step up from listening to my friends sing Journey tunes. And it was. But only marginally better. I still have to listen to people sing that stuff badly. But seeing all those animated, famous Beatles venues like the Cavern and the Ed Sullivan stage was kind of cool. Which brings me to the subject of my entry--Trivia time! Anyone know offhand who opened for the Beatles at Shea Stadium?

It was the legendary King Curtis. What a talent. He was first famous for the sax solo in "Yakety Yak" by the Coasters. Have a listen:

That was one of my favorites as a youngster. By the way, my father in law played with the Coasters in pickup bands when they toured the Southeast. He is quite the coolio. So anyway King Curtis has a really impressive resume. He was the leader of the Kingpins, Aretha's backup band, and is credited by many as the guy who discovered her. He also did these cool covers of pop tunes. He even did a cool soul version of "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. But my favorite stuff was some of the early seventies crossover stuff that he did with the ATCO crowd--Delany and Bonnie, Clapton, Duane Allman and some of that Stax records crowd out of Memphis. His band was always hip. Bass player Jerry Jemmott was just a beast. This is from Curtis's album, Get Ready. Trust the Chap and just buy this CD. Here is "Soulin'" with Jerry on bass:Now that is just sick good.

Ok from the same album this is "Teasin'" Along with a bit of Eric Clapton interview talking about how this was one of his favorite recordings he ever made. I can see why.



That was one of my all time favorite songs in High School. Wow. That has Carl Radle and Bobby Whitlock just before Derek and the Dominoes formed.

Ok King Curtis warming up the crowd at Shea Stadium. If you remember, that was possibly the most warmed up crowd of all time.



This next tune is "Instant Groove" from the album of the same name. I still have this on vinyl.



He was very fond of that format of a song--breaking it down. Wise probably. With that much talent in the band, it's good to isolate and feature the members and show what they can do. Here is another example called "Memphis Soul Stew":



That is Cornell Dupree on the guitar in that one. What a soulful tone. He was one of the guitar players that played with the Blues Brothers along with Steve Cropper, the guitarist for Booker T and the MG's.

Things did not end well for King Curtis--On August 13, 1971, Curtis became involved in an argument with two men outside his apartment on West 86th Street. One of the men, Juan MontaƱez, stabbed Curtis in the heart. He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where he died from his wounds. On the day of the funeral Atlantic Records closed their offices. Jesse Jackson administered the service and as the mourners filed in, Curtis's band 'The Kingpins' played "Soul Serenade". Amongst those attending were Aretha Franklin, Cissy Houston, Brook Benton and Duane Allman. Franklin sang the closing spiritual "Never Grow Old" and Stevie Wonder performed "Abraham, Martin & John and now King Curtis".

If you have a spare buck, King Curtis and Duane Allman playing "The Weight" from the Duane Allman Anthology Vol 2 album is just priceless.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh the Hilarity

In 1975, when I was in 5th grade, my super hip friend, Dickie changed the course of my life by introducing me to Saturday Night Live. When it first started, not only was it funny, but it was really cool. If you knew about it, particularly in 5th grade, well you were cool. You were connected to something. It was like some heightened awareness. It mocked and satirized the world around you, and you felt like you were becoming like Gatsby--connected to that seismograph. My eyes were open. Like shaking off the sleepy spell of the marketing and schmaltz that surrounded me.

I was in on the joke.

Dickie's gift of course takes on a life of its own. Once the eyes are open you begin to see more and more. And one fascinating bit of comedy that really played on the dynamic of hipness and being in on the joke was Andy Kaufman. I loved Andy early. Maybe it just hit me at just the right time in my life--just entering adolescence--insecure, alienated--wanting to be cool, to connect in some way. I loved satire. When many kids were collecting Baseball cards, I became fascinated with Wacky Packs. They were like Baseball cards, only they were mini parodies of household products. Like this:

Ok I know, but like I say, I was a kid. Then it was Mad Magazine. Yummy irreverence!!

And then along came Andy.

Every comedian I had ever seen did everything he could to get you on his side. Even the hip ones, Carlin and Pryor, and Mooney wanted you on their side, to relate, to understand. They wanted to be hip and show their understanding. Kaufman wanted to promote misunderstanding. He did not want me on his side. He wanted to create tension, chaos. He wanted you to think something was wrong. Like this:



This was my hero! He rarely if ever cracked out of turn. He would have hecklers planted to create tension in the room. He would bomb on purpose. Once he showed up at the show and proceeded to read The Great Gatsby to the audience under the guise of classing up his act. If you weren't in on the joke, it was just weird and uncomfortable. But if you were in, well few things were funnier. Here is a classic example:It's pretty clear that Andy doesn't care if the audience is on his side. When I saw this I was crying with laughter. This was my hero. He was changing the rules. I am not going to catalog a zillion Kaufman bits--suffice to say that they all played on this idea of creating illusion--from pretending to be a wrestler, to setting up two call in numbers on SNL where viewers could call in and support Andy's appearances on the show or vote to have him kicked off the show forever.

And then came the joke. I remember hearing that Kaufman the health nut had gotten lung cancer despite never having smoked and was headed south of the border for a miracle cure. Now by this time I was conditioned to associate Andy with illusion and trickery--often outside the normal performance arena. I was not buying it. I was convinced he was pushing some envelope.

Then came the news that he had died. Once again I was not buying it. I was convinced it was a joke. It was my first thought. It was an Elvis goof. It was right in line with his act--playing on the edge, illusion vs reality, messin with the rubes. That was May 16, 1984.

And we waited.

Before long the rumors start floating around. His long time cohort, Bob Zmuda, claims he talked about faking his death. Then lots of people in his life started saying similar things. When Man in the Moon came out, all that was multiplied. Andy had apparently said that if he were to do it, it would have to be a long time to be something special.

On the 20th anniversary of his "death", Zmuda held a party for his reappearance. Oh how I wanted him to come back. This would not have been Elvis or Tupac or Howard Hughes or any of those sad personalities who popular legend speculated had done this. This would have been a joke. A twenty year joke. Many of the audience quite alive at the outset of the joke would be dead before the punchline. Talk about killing. OH! But seriously. . .

Well there was no big reveal, but someone at the party left behind this mysterious card:



After that there began this online presence at the site mentioned on the card. It was this mysterious blog all dedicated to the idea that Andy Kaufman faked his death. Various forums popped up that tried to decipher the mysterious clues. For years this went on. Fake names, clues all over the country, people pretending to be unraveling the mystery suddenly seeming to be part of the conspiracy. There were scans of irregularities in the death certificate. A myriad of quotes from people claiming variously that they saw Kaufman alive in the 90's or in the carribean or that he told any number of people how he was really going to do it and that he would not even tell his parents, etc. Increasingly the narrative voice at that site took on the voice of Kaufman himself. He claimed to be Kaufman; he made videos; he even gave voice scrambled interviews on the radio. Frankly it got lame. I started thinking of it as "The Big Wank".

Two days ago was the 25th Anniversary (at this writing) May 16, 2009. There was some anticipation among the OCD crazies in the forum that pays attention to all this nonsense. Finally the day arrives and at the once mysterious adn clever andykaufmanlives.com there was this text:
Andy Kaufman will give a message to the world
on the 25th anniversary of his death
Saturday May 16, 2009
That message will appear only on this page.
As many of you have figured out over the years, I am not dead. I did not fake my death, I performed an illusion.
I have spent the last 25 years creating my art, my way, on my terms. In 1984, I was unemployable. I was considered a liability. My agents could not get me work in television, film, theater, or comedy clubs. A tour of colleges was cancelled due to lack of interest. In the summer of 1983, my wrestling matches were cancelled due to lackluster ticket sales. I could not get backers for any of my screenplays. No publisher had the slightest interest in the books I had written. I was the boy who cried wolf too many times. I was considered a has-been. I was accepted in the TM movement but not welcome. The only reason I was accepted was my many monetary contributions over the years. My closest friends had no use for me since they could no longer advance themselves through me. I was no longer profitable to my friends or management. My family was done with me as well since I would not reach out to my child that they had given up for adoption. In 1983, I was alone and could not even find menial work since washed up celebrities are considered over qualified. My agents and family put me in therapy.
I did the only thing I could do short of killing myself. I killed the Andy Kaufman character and buried him with a man named Nathan McCoy.
With the deceased Nathan McCoy’s identity, I moved on. I have spent the last 25 years producing television, making films, writing books, and keeping journals of my daily activities. I have hundreds of hours of home video. All this has been done my way, on my terms. All my work is in storage and will be destroyed upon my death.
I have spent the last 15 years haunting the internet. People ask when I am going to “return”. You do not seem to understand. You left me 25 years ago. I have no use for you now. My message to the world is this… fuck every last one of you.


Here's the thing. The Big Wank has been fun. Not so much lately, but big picture wise, what a ride. Early on, before the narrative voice changed, it was just great. But what a lame ending.

Got a big mad on cause you were unemployable? Show up. I bet you get a gig.

And the other thing is that The Big Wank is supposed to be a joke. Wait not a joke, or even THE JOKE. It is supposed to be JOKE.

Now we get this silly reveal that he left because he was sad? Depressed?

The magic of the whole thing is that Andy is telling a joke that takes 25 years to tell. That simple construct has built into it all of the surrealism that was ANDY. It is the Gatsby bit on steroids. If everyone walks out on the joke is it still funny? Yes! It is funnier. Provided that it is still a joke!

There is an old comedy saying that my pop drilled into my head--Brevity is the soul of wit. Sure--if you are Henny. But Andy was different. Can the Joke be longer than the act? That is funny in itself. Can a joke be so long that the comedian moves to a different country? Hysterical. Can a joke be so long that the comedian dies of natural causes in the telling? Macabre but damned funny.

But to tell a joke for 25 years and then try to sell the crowd on the idea that it was never a joke. . . You know what? It's still funny.

I will continue to check in. You see there is this small part of me that sees Andy as being only happy when there is an audience of one. I want the mythos intact that Andy ultimately wants to alienate the audience--and the descent into hack-itude is part of it. We would-be hipster insiders are crowding him.

My point is that the myth of Andy is far more important than any of the rest of it. Ask yourself why you like Andy. Is it your hipness you like? Being in on the joke? Or can you make that transition to willing sucker? I continue to believe and laugh because, well, the world is just more beautiful that way. I delight in my foolishness.

Fool me! You wonderful man!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Psychedelic Youth

Looking back on my childhood, I am struck by how trippy children's programming was. It certainly was eye catching. The first example I want to show is from a preachy, moralizing cartoon I remember seeing every saturday morning. I think they used it as filler between regular programming. It was called "Jot" and it mainly gave these moral lessons. The format was simple--Jot (a dot with a face and feet)would commit some moral transgression, things get all trippy, Jot repents, Jot feels better.

Enjoy:


It's enough to make a kid swear off cupcakes forever.

In this next one, Jot is tempted by some sort of Noisy Windmill toy. Perhaps it was part of some Man of La Mancha action figure set. That is not really made clear. He steals the aformentioned toy and with it he levitates to his lair in a treehouse. It is at this point that his enjoyment of his stolen goods is complicated by the fact that he begins hallucinating that the toy is speaking to him, whispering the 8th Commandment over and over. The toy seems broken and unattractive.

He repents and returns the toy, at which point the toy seems desireable again.

It is hard not to covet when the world works this way. Thief's remorse I suppose.




Next up is a clip from a children's special called "The Point". It's a sort of allegorical bildungsroman with music by Harry Nilson and narrated by Ringo. Main character Oblio lives in a land where everyone has a pointed head. His is decidedly round. He dons a pointed hat and goes in search of "a point". In this clip, he is given life lessons by a hipster.



Kinda get the munchies just watching that don't you?

In the early to mid seventies, Saturday morning children's programming was dominated by two main forces: Hanna Barbera, and Sid and Marty Krofft. They seemed to be competing to determine who could develop the most acid-inspired programming. Consider the following from Hanna Barbera.And now from the competition. Can this be anything other than a pot song?We were also tantalized by the Beatles and Peter Max from time to time--but this usually took the form of a prime time special. Here are the Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine:



But perhaps the classic mind blower of all for kids my age was this piece of magic:Combine all of this with the toy we all grew up with--the toy that made disorientation fun--that associated dizziness and playtime--that equates an inability to walk with pure, unadulterated joy. What could it be, you ask?

Why, this of course:



What a strange place the world is.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How Jean Baptiste Told the Master Race to Eat a Hat

You know, sometimes being the man just trumps everything. As an intro here is one of my old man's favorite stories. The sales manager comes to the boss and says "Johnson has been showing up late and his expense report is through the roof!"
The boss replies, "Did you mention it to him?"

"Yes, and he said you could eat your hat and that I should go &^%$ myself."

The boss replies, "What do his sales look like?"

"Twice as good as anyone else, but what are we going to do about his attitude?"

And the boss says, "Well I am going to get a new hat, and you have a personal problem."

The old man would always use this little joke as a way of reminding me that there are perks that come with excellence. Many of my father's life lessons took this form. He was just a bottom line kind of guy.

Now let me tell you another story, A story of a gypsy man. His name was Jean Baptiste Reinhardt, but he became known as Django to the world. To many, he was the finest guitarist who ever lived. He was born in 1910 and lived most of his life in France among the manouche gypsy population. In 1928, at age 18 he was living in a gypsy caravan vardo like one of these:

He was already an accomplished guitarist and jazz banjo player. His wife made celluloid flowers. One night the vardo catches fire and the celluloid stuff just turns the whole thing into an inferno. Django was caught inside. He had serious burns all over his body, but one of the most damaged areas was his fretting hand--the breadwinner of all his body parts. His ring finger and little finger were horribly burned and were rendered all but useless. Here is a picture of his hand:


This does not stop the guy. In fact, he was just getting started. He starts using chord shapes and styles that are suitable for his damaged hand. Before long he meets virtuoso violinist Stephane Grappelli and they form a band that plays jazz but all on string instruments. Many of the various side men are also gypsies including Django's brother Joseph. They record some of the most beautiful and most swinging music ever recorded. Django's playing is just amazing. Almost every jazz guitarist since claims him as an influence. And he is doing all this with two working fingers and a stump of a third. Just as things are really starting to get kicking and the band is becoming known world wide, the Germans occupy France. Stephane Grappelli (who was gay) decides to leave and wait out the war in England, but Django remains behind and continues to gig. Now think about this--we are not talking about some low profile working class guy trying not to be noticed, this is a gigging musician band leader who is out front every time he goes to work attracting attention to himself, and he is a handicapped gypsy in a gypsy band playing music written by blacks right in the middle of Paris when the place is crawling with Nazis. Sweet Jesus, they came for the gypsies before they came for the jews! I guess my pop is right. If you are the man, if you are creating something that no one else can, well sometimes a fellow like that gets a pass. There is only one known piece of footage of Django playing where the sound is synced up with the visual image. This is from when he was still playing with Stephane Grappelli. Here it is:Now listen to what a man of an "inferior" race can do with two fingers:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How Charlie Chan Played Toronto With a Piece of Plastic

It's 1953. Bebop is in full. . . well. . . bebop. Diz and Bird are kicking it hard. A group of Jazz fans in Toronto decide to sponsor a concert at Massey Hall that ended up being Jazz legend. According to the story (as I heard it--and there are many versions) Charlie Parker was a pretty notorious, unreliable junkie at the time. Habit had got the best of him. Started to get a rep for showing up all junked up to the gig. So to make sure he didn't show up incapacitated, the band takes his money and just gives him a ticket for travel. This seems Urban Legendish--but I am just relating the story as I have heard it a million times. The idea was that if they leave him with no dough, he can't fix. No cash, no stash. As the legend goes, Bird shows up in Toronto as planned, only it is clear that he has fixed. And then the horrible realization hits home that Parker has in fact hocked his horn to fix before leaving NY.

Everyone is in scramble mode looking for a horn. It's after hours and one of the guys sponsoring the show has a music store and is a rep for these new saxophones made of plastic. Parker ends up playing what many refer to as the greatest jazz concert of all time on a plastic saxophone. In 1994, Christie's held an auction where they sold the actual legendary plastic saxophone that Bird played on that night(it eventually sold for over $144,000.00). They hired another legendary player to demonstrate its sound. Here is Pete King playing the Grafton Plastic Sax. He actually plays one of the tunes that Parker and his cohorts played that night, "Wee".



The lineup for the Massey Hall Concert was as follows:

Parker--Plastic alto
Dizzy--Trumpet
Bud Powell--Piano
Charles Mingus--Bass
Max Roach--Drums

Now that is a lineup. The event was recorded and released under Roach and Mingus's co-owned Debut label. Since Parker was contractually obligated to another label at the time, he had to be listed under a pseudonym. They chose "Charlie Chan" possibly because of Louis Armstrong's famous critique of Bebop where he said it sounded to him like Chinese music.

Now to Bud Powell. What a tragic story there! In 1945, the cops just beat the living crap out of him, and from that point on, his mental state was questionable. In '47, he went to the mental institution and stayed for more than a year. The doctors repeatedly zapped his brain with electroconvulsive shock which lead to severe memory loss. Here's Bud:



From then he was erratic (Hell, who wouldn't be?). He was an alcoholic, and according to many of his colleagues, it just took a little bit of the sauce to make him very aggressive. I often wonder how much of his trouble was a mental disorder, and how much was just a rational response of a genius level artist to the indignities of Jim Crow. In '51, he was busted on a Marijuana charge which lead to another prolonged stay in the mental hospital--almost two years. So at the Time of Massey Hall, he was fresh out of the mental hospital but had been released to the owner of the Birdland club and was being basically held prisoner in an apartment! It was not until a few months later that his playing started to really suffer from the effects of taking the drug Largactil for his supposed schizophrenia. Massey Hall was a good show for Bud; he is sharp and nimble and perhaps full of energy from having just been released (sort of). Beginning around '54 he started to really slip. The composing was still good--the performing, not so good.

Two years later in '55 there was a partial reunion of this legendary lineup at a New York club. Only Diz was absent. Bud at one point could not play and became totally incoherent having to be lead from the stage. Parker gets in the mic and starts saying Bud Powell...Bud Powell...over and over like he is paging the incapacitated pianist. He takes it WAY too far and just keeps repeating it. Mingus is so pissed, he gets in another mic and says "Do not associate me with this; this is not jazz."

Charlie Parker was dead from drug abuse within a week.

But back to Massey Hall. And to Mingus. Mingus was always a tough looking dude to me:



Mingus had a strange early career that left him with a sizeable chip on his shoulder. There was a tradition in Jazz where many of the top cats adopted titles of nobility. King Creole, King Louis, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, etc. Early on and still visible on some labels you can see Mingus referred to as Baron Mingus. Anyway, Mingus was of mixed race. He had some serious run ins with racism early in his career that left him bitter. He had played with Louis in the 40's and then with Hampton. He even got some of his own compositions played. And in certain lineups, Hamp's band was interracial. Mingus also had worked in Ellington's band which was also interracial. He was involved in a famous incident in that band involving racial conflict. According to other members of the band, Mingus had a conflict with Juan Tizol, Duke's valve trombonist. Tizol was the composer of Caravan and Perdido--two of Duke's biggest hits. Anyway the story goes like this. Tizol shows Mingus a piece of written music and asks him play it. Mingus plays it but not exactly as written--he spins it or whatever. So Tizol announces to some of his white bandmates, "See, I told you these niggers can't read."

Here is Juan Tizol:

Mingus becomes so angry that he shoves Juan Tizol from the wings, and Juan Tizol goes sprawling all the way across the stage into the other wings! Duke fired Mingus. Supposedly he is the only musician that Duke ever sacked (although some say Soprano sax player, Sidney Bechet was also canned once).

Then in the very early part of the 50's, Mingus hooks up with legendary vibraphonist Red Norvo and guitar viruoso Tal Farlow to form the Red Norvo Trio. They are brilliant and inventive and critically acclaimed. The have trouble gigging because Mingus is black. Incidentally, Red Norvo was really something to see. Watch him go crazy with Benny on "The World Waiting for the Sunrise" only a decade or so after his period with Mingus.So here we are in 1953 and Mingus is playing with the biggest names in Bebop and the concert of the century. When he goes back and listens to the recording, his bass part is barely audible. He ended up overdubbing his bass part for the recording that ended up on the record.

So in 1953, a legendary lineup takes the stage. Many of them battling their personal demons, whether they be race, mental illness, or junk. And they channel all of it into jazz magic.

Here is a recording from that historic night in 1953. It is Dizzy's classic composition "A Night in Tunisia".



Here is another Bebop classic from that same night, "Salt Peanuts":Dig.