Freddie Hubbard playing for Blue Mitchell at the Blue Mitchell Memorial, June 10, 1979, Local 47 Los Angeles – photo by Mark Weber
October 18, 2o18 Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER KUNM Albuquerque, USA 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web KUNM.org Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)
SWINGING THE GATE OFF THE HINGES
Volume I suppose makes up for a lack of swing but it can wear on you, even as it has its own interesting aspects, volume (loudness) makes good the charge of foot soldiers, (I recently experienced vertigo listening to a local bar band playing the blues at full bore and had to lean against the wall to steady myself).
Well, I don’t want to give volume short shrift, it has its uses and reasons, apart from the tactic of emotional manipulation —- For instance, Beethoven doesn’t sound right turned too low.
Begs the question: Do we have internal volume controls that can adjust inputs to optimum levels? (Altho, kinda hard to turn down loud).
Loudness can be an assault – aggressive – Not pleasant with afternoon tea.
For subtlety nothing beats this thing we call swing. It has its own emotional manipulations, as well. It can raise you up out of your seat (metaphorically speaking) —- I hate to say it, but, most jazz artists these days have left swing behind, (they’ve also not incorporated humor, either, as the old dogs did – but, that’s another essay) —- Propulsion can be generated any number of ways: accelerando (climax), is one, “energy” playing, another, playing fast, etcetera, but, in my mind, nothing touches the majesty of swing —- It’s really what jazz is all about.
Where did it come from? Max Roach told me it absolutely didn’t come from Africa, it came out of the slave experience in America (he said, that from Africa we got intensity, that was Africa’s contribution). Bobby Bradford says, “it came with the earliest of the music, with those street bands in New Orleans, say 1905, when those guys started tweakin’ the rhythm, bending it out of shape, moving those accents around —- that was the rhythmic sensation we know as swing, some sort of property that sets it apart, separated it from ragtime and marches” [telcon 8oct2o18].
Kenny Davern said Bach swung. Connie Crothers said, as we sat in backseat of a cab going over Williamsburg Bridge, that some consideration should also be given to Native Americans and also, as always, that it has everything to do with feeling. The books tell you that swing is a slight displacement of the beat, usually behind the count, on the backside, that generates tension, like a rubber band about to snap —- then: resolution.
You can best describe swing by the absence of it —- say, in a persistent pounding on the 2 and 4 (backbeat) of some rock music, the music just stands still, what we call square, what Sam the Sham called “L-7” nothing happening upstairs —- When swing is happening it’s like a kid in the basement playing with his chemistry set, ka-boom! Explodes, release of energy, resolution, elation, backwards & forwards.
Let’s get real: Swing is yet one more gift Black America has brought to the table.
I’ve always said that Bobby Shew has the soul of an ancient Scottish poet trapped inside, he never fails to tell a beautiful story in his solos. He corrected me and says he has Irish ancestry in his blood. So, maybe he’s Ulster-Scot? (came over to Ireland from Scotland in 1600 – aka “Scots-Irish”). There’s the charm and elegance and rosy-cheeked bonny-good story with equal parts lament and buoyancy and lyricism in the old narrative vein. His ballads for fallen band mates Blue Mitchell and Art Pepper are a case in point. Bobby grew up in Albuquerque playing in the bands of Tom Cillesen, Sol Chavez, Frank Chewiwie, and Bill Schaar, as a teenager. He went to UNM for a minute or two, “being drafted saved me,” and he auditioned for the NORAD band (member for 3 years) after which he found himself in Vegas showbands for several years (even had his own big band that included soloist Carl Fontana and Chuck Findley, that worked the hotels, Flamingo, Tropicana, Stardust, Dunes, the Mint). AND somewhere back in his earlier years he took a workshop with legendary arranger Russ Garcia. In September of 1972 he & Lisa pulled up stakes and moved to Los Angeles where the story really magnifies, as he works in TV on shows like Hawaii 5-O, Taxi, Lavern & Shirley, and two dozen others (see his website). Even as he told me he doesn’t feel the need to write a memoir it sure would be interesting just as an illustration of the music scene of the 60s and 70s and 80s. I’m always amazed at how Bobby collaborated with so many of the greats who have always been in the background of jazz, only known among musicians, like Bill Mays, Nick Brignola, Frank Rosolino (okay, everybody knows those last two), Red Holloway, Gary Foster, the Scottish guitarist Louis Stewart, even had dinner with Johnny Green (and got the story on how “Body & Soul” came off his pen), Larry Koonse, Lanny Morgan, Frank Strazzeri, Mike Wofford, George Robert, Jan Allan, Holly Hofmann, Ralph Moore, Joe Diorio, on & on, the list is staggering, Dave Pell even produced one of Bobby’s albums and if you listen to the Thursday jazz show you know I love Dave Pell’s Octets, and big bands Bobby Shew worked (in somewhat chronological order): Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Terry Gibbs, Bob Florence, Bill Holman, Horace Silver Sextet, Tito Puente, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Gerald Wilson —- check out the 169 session entries at Tom Lord Discography —– even so, Bobby says he might possibly best be remembered for his system of teaching music & trumpet. And AND Bobby is one of those rare musicians who actually gets out in the world to see other musicians perform, I catch him around town as much in his own bands as I do at concerts, he even caught Sun Ra at The Palomino in North Hollywood back in the 80s —- He & Lisa repaired to Albuquerque in 2006 (August 6 to be exact). Great to have him around, he jumped right into the local scene, because jazz is a living music. In this photo the valve buttons of this trumpet are at the jewelers being fitted with Bobby’s signature turquoise – October 10, 2o18 – photo by Mark Weber
Bobby Shew with his Yamaha Clavinova (2006) he keeps in his studio —- This is a fabulous keyboard, many of the settings approximate various instruments quite well —- I liked the tenor saxophone setting, and especially the straight-ahead grand piano setting – October 10, 2o18 – photo by Mark Weber
Shew has trumpets all over the place ———– October 10, 2o18 —- photo by Mark Weber
Idris Ackamoor, composer & saxophonist & band leader —- San Francisco – August 14, 1979 – Photo & line drawing by Mark Weber
Old friends: Ray Collins on tenor and Lewis Jordan on alto (far right) at Idris Ackamoor rehearsal, at the New College – a 12-piece aggregation – August 14, 1979 – the other two altos in shot: Russell Baba and Idris —- photo by Mark Weber
Idris Ackamoor in San Francisco (where he lives) – August 14, 1979 – photos by Mark Weber —- We’re both fellow admirers of Cecil Taylor and will no doubt talk about Cecil a little when Idris visits the Thursday jazz show this day previous to his ensemble The Pyramids appearing at the Outpost Performance Space this same night (Oct 18) —– much to talk about these intervening years . . . .
Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: Horace Tapscott (piano), poet Kamau Daaood, BJ Crowley & Linda Hill (vocals), Louis Spears (cello), Donald Dean (drumset) – July 15, 1984 Watts Towers Jazz Festival —– others in Arkestra that day: Roberto Miranda, Al Hines, & David Bryant (basses), Larry Gales (cello), Dadesi Arthur Wells (sax) – photo by Mark Weber
Sunday morning at Landmark Community Church, Johnny Otis, pastor —– October 14, 1979 (most likely date) – photo by Mark Weber
Art Blakey and Howard Rumsey backstage at Concerts By The Sea —- January 17, 1980 – photo by Mark Weber
A right-hand guitarist and a left-hand guitarist, backstage at Long Beach Blues Festival: Albert Collins and Coco Montoya – September 15, 1985 – photo by Mark Weber
Two great saxophonists under Santa Fe skies —– October 8, 2o18 —- Arlen Asher & Dave Anderson – photo by Mark Weber
Benny Golson at Jazz Bakery in Culver City, Ca. Photo and graphic by Cal Haines 1/11/2007
Doing another radio show with Arlen Asher on his KSFR The Jazz Experience – October 8, 2o18 Santa Fe – photo by Mark Weber
Cibola County Schools, Grants, New Mexico, exhibit at New Mexico State Fair – September 2o18 – photo by Mark Weber
Poem from a year ago (7oct2o17) by myself (photo from a magazine)