Jazz and Pop, Youth and Middle Age like Young

By Francis Davis | Go to book overview

Some Recordings

One of the strangest recordings I own is Process and Reality, by the English saxophonist and free improviser Evan Parker. It ends with a performance called "Lapidary," which consists of Parker tapping the keys of his soprano saxophone in loose counterpoint to a recording by Steve Lacy. Shades of Charlie Parker in a Chicago hotel room in 1943, improvising over 78s by Hazel Scott and Benny Goodman? Not quite, because the practice-recording chosen by this Parker—"The Cryptosphere," from Lacy's 1971 LP Lapis—was an overdub to start with, and you'll never guess whose record was on Lacy's turntable.

Lacy's unassenting duet partner was Ruby Braff, a cornetist whose acceptance of swing as holy writ would seem to put him at the opposite end of the musical spectrum from avant-gardists like Lacy and Parker. I like to think their enthusiasm for him is testimony to their ability to spot a fellow original, whatever his stylistic affiliation.

Braff was a rebel of the 1950s, almost a prototype for Wynton Marsalis, minus the latter's celebrity and the race card he takes every opportunity to play. (In the person of John Hammond, Braff even had his own literary champion and propagandist, à la Stanley Crouch.) At a time when a young musician was expected to be either a progressive or a moldy fig, Braff shook the status quo by opposing both camps. Though not given to sweeping pronouncements (that was Hammond's job), Braff held that jazz had achieved perfection with swing, and that most of what was being called "modernism" amounted to self-indulgent tweaking. However short-sighted this position was, it worked for Braff—a magnetic soloist

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Jazz and Pop, Youth and Middle Age like Young
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also by Francis Davis *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Advertisements for Myself xi
  • Part One - Voices *
  • Swin G and Sensibility 3
  • The Great Hoagy 19
  • Not Singing Too Much 27
  • Billie Holiday, Cover Artist 39
  • Betty Carter, for Example 49
  • Part Two - Change of the Century *
  • Bud's Bubble 57
  • The Sound of One Finger Snapping 66
  • Aftershocks 77
  • Taken: the True Story of an Alien Abduction - (A Conversation with Sun Ra) 83
  • Rashaan, Rashaan 94
  • Inward 99
  • A to Z 106
  • Charlie Haden, Bass 116
  • ornette 134
  • The 1970s, Religious and Circus 141
  • Like Young 156
  • In His Father's House 169
  • Leaving behind a Trail 176
  • Some Recordings 186
  • On Stage and Screen 200
  • Part Three - Here and There *
  • Tourist Point of View 219
  • Time Difference 223
  • Part Four - Undercover *
  • Man Lost. Songs Found 235
  • Country vs. Western 242
  • Elvis Presley's Double Consciousness 246
  • Beached 256
  • Everybody's Composer 263
  • The Best Years of Our Lives 281
  • Infamous 297
  • Victim Kitsch 304
  • The Moral of the Story from the Guy Who Knows 316
  • Index 339
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