Jazz and Pop, Youth and Middle Age like Young

By Francis Davis | Go to book overview

On Stage and Screen

The Jazzman Bloweth

Resembling one of those cool bop collections Starbucks sells as a side dish to cappuccino and biscotti, Side Man: jazz Classics from the Broadway Play (RCA Victor 0902663444-2) epitomizes everything spurious about a show that epitomizes everything spurious about contemporary live drama. The centerpiece of both this new CD and the second act of Warren Leight's long-running play is Clifford Brown's version of "A Night in Tunisia," recorded at a Philadelphia jam session the night before his fatal 1956 turnpike collision. This electrifying performance wasn't commercially released until 1973, by which point tapes had been making the rounds for years. It's 1967 in the play, and one of Leight's terminally out-of-it white jazz musicians, a former member of Claude Thornhill's trumpet section now scuffling for society dance gigs, has come up with a dub that he can't wait to play for his buddies—fellow ex‐ Thornhillites on a job with the dreaded Lestin Lanin (and such fuck-ups that their idea of a good time is swapping yarns designed to illustrate what fuck-ups all musicians are). As Brown masterfully elongates a phrase from his first chorus into his second, one of Leight's sidemen lets out a "whew!," only to be told "wait!" by the sideman who's heard the tape before—meaning, it gets even better. Both reactions ring true: This is how such men would listen to music, and this is the monosyllabic way they would talk about it. Then, a few minutes into Brown's solo, one of these guys jumps up and yells "I quit!"—delight giving way to frustration:

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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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