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Re: [RedHotJazz] Taking The Pith was Bernard Wolfe, Mezzrow, and Really the Blues

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  • Howard Rye
    I haven¹t read ŒReally The Blues¹ in years but I am surprised to find it described as containing no material of musical value. I remember it as containing
    Message 1 of 79 , Jun 9, 2009
      I haven¹t read ŒReally The Blues¹ in years but I am surprised to find it
      described as containing no material of musical value. I remember it as
      containing quite a lot of material of music-historical value (or did you not
      mean to take that into account?). Everything obviously has to be read taking
      account of the light in which Mezz wishes to show himself and the likelihood
      that already fallible memories will have been edited to achieve this. To an
      extent though this is true of all autobiograhies and authorized memoirs,
      except for the few written with scrapbooks in front of the authors. Bill
      Coleman and Doc Cheatham and Alberta Hunter didn¹t actually remember all
      that detail. They didn¹t have to. They had it all neatly filed.

      I really do think it needs to be stressed that what Mezz was trying to do
      was no different from the process by which some English people become
      passably French and some Germans passably Dutch, or the process by which the
      Polish Joseph Korzeniowski became the English man of letters Joseph Konrad.
      These cultural shifts are most often achieved by marrying into a community
      and going to live in it.

      This is what Mezz tried to do and Johnny Otis succeeded in doing. It is only
      the political claptrap surrounding the artificial construct of race which
      makes this process seem different in this case and the application of the
      term ³reactionary² seems deeply disturbing to me. It appears to accept that
      what was fine for Joseph Konrad is not fine for Mezz Mezzrow and the only
      reason I can think of for distinguishing the cases is that one of them
      involves ³race² and the other does not. And that Mezz chose to write a
      puerile and self-serving account of what in the event was his own failure to
      live up to his aspirations, though he wasn¹t mistaken that he became one of
      the most convincing white blues players in the music¹s history. I wonder how
      we would judge him if he had been a better musician. He is after all not the
      only author of a puerile and self-serving autobiography in history.

      I think Preston Love is better left to speak for himself. His autobiography
      ŒA Thousand Honey Creeks Later¹ (Wesleyan University Press, 1997) is a good
      read. So are Johnny Otis¹s own two books: ŒListen to the Lambs¹ and ŒUpside
      Your Head!¹. They deal with a musical era which is a bit off topic for this
      list but I stick to the view that the personal aspects are highly relevant
      for a more balanced assessment of Mezzrow as a man and musician rather than
      as a cipher on which to hang political opinions. Though, to be sure, he
      himself made love to that role and would have no grounds for complaint.

      I once spent a fruitless hour searching for his grave in Père Lachaise,
      fruitless even though I thought I knew where it was.

      on 09/06/2009 08:56, David Brown at johnhaleysims@... wrote:

      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Robert --- congratulations. An achievement to construct so substantial an
      > essay on so insubstantial a subject. Also finding the real non-musical pith,
      > for really there is a comparatively minor discussion of actual music in the
      > book and even less of musical value.
      >
      > 'Puerile, reactionary and self-serving.' Cruel but fair.
      >
      > ' Yes I'm a genius and Sidney Bechet helps me prove it on the King Jazz
      > records' -- Mezz notes Storyville reissue.
      >
      > Surely Cy Laurie thought himself a reincarnation of Dodds and cruel and
      > unfair to suggest Crawley or Senter.
      >
      > Howard --- tell us about Preston Love -- if you have time --- I know him
      > only from the rather sad chapter in the Dance Basie.
      >
      > Tony --- listening recently with great pleasure to your 'Vintage Geoff
      > Bull' (GHB) Wonderfully alive and creative music within the N.O. tradition.
      > Did your actual Trad ever swamp Australia or were you all too independent ?
      >
      > Dave
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >> Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
      >> howard@...
      >> Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
      >>



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Howard Rye
      Sadly, I have to report that ³the sweeter side of King Keppard² was a discographical misattribution on which Rudi Blesh built a flight of fancy. This
      Message 79 of 79 , Jun 16, 2009
        Sadly, I have to report that ³the sweeter side of King Keppard² was a
        discographical misattribution on which Rudi Blesh built a flight of fancy.

        This particular piece of tosh is to be found in the ŒPostscript¹ appended to
        later editions of Blesh¹s ŒShining Trumpets¹. Keppard isn¹t even on the
        record cited as proto-Beiderbecke, Doc Cook¹s ŒI Got Worry¹. The trumpeter
        is probably Elwood Graham, whose presence is confirmed by his file
        attribution as a member of the vocal trio on ŒHum and Strum¹. As the date
        is 1928 comment on the likely direction of influence is probably
        superfluous. This is a showband doing what showbands do (giving the public
        what it wants). It would be an exaggeration to call ŒI Got Worry² a
        Whiteman-imitation but they are aiming at the same territory and Graham
        plays in the style he or the arranger considered appropriate for that job. I
        seriously doubt that anything more compliacted is happening.

        Incidentally despite what discographies say about the personnel of this
        session, Doc Poston is certainly present since the files name him as one of
        the vocal trio too, unless there really was a musician called ³Postum² in
        the band.

        on 16/06/2009 18:01, Tommer at tommersl@... wrote:

        >
        > --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com> ,
        > "Tommer" <tommersl@...> wrote:
        >
        >> > I didn't read this Murray but IMO improvisation on Blues texture (hot) is
        >> different than improvising on the something that wraps the Blues (sweet).
        >> >
        >> > IMO Louis' "West End Blues" the piano is sweet. They also don't swing much.
        >> On the other hand the piano on Johnny Dodds' "New St. Louis Blues" is hot and
        >> they swing. I was reffering to the piano but it is more or less what I feel
        >> about the whole of each of the two.
        >> >
        >> > What I prefer? The hot!
        >> >
        >> > Tommer
        >> >
        >
        > I have to add something accordingly. I think that one of the problems in
        > understanding among Jazz listeners the connection between Jazz and Blues is
        > that because unfair argues. Like, saying anything Louis did was hot which is
        > not true. What those that like "West End Blues" is the virtuoso trumpet thing,
        > but in terms of hot music it is not so much.
        >
        > Why I mentioned this is complicated to explain, first because I saw that West
        > End is regarded by Albert and I am sure others think the same as one of the
        > two (with Singin the Blues) most important records of the 1920's, and for me
        > this record is a symbol to the end of the most powerful Blues era in Jazz,
        > because this as well as Singin are records that goes from collective efforts
        > on Blues texture to virtuoso use of Blues for other things.
        >
        > And I don;t mean 12-bar Blues, because 12-bar can play without improvisation
        > on the texture, as much as other forms can be played inside the texture.
        >
        > What I believe is that because assuming everything Louis did was "hot" is why
        > Rudi Blesh claimed that Bix wasn't influenced by Louis but, he was influenced
        > by the sweeter side of King Keppard.
        >
        > Because assuming everything Louis was doing at the time was hot, causes a
        > problem, how can a always hot musician influence so much a musician Blesh
        > believed was sweet?
        >
        > And this is what confuse people! Because there are romantic descriptions to
        > deal with this.
        >
        > So, Murray omitting Oliver or for that same matter any list is questionnable,
        > at the time Bunk and George Lewis were rediscovered they weren't as able to
        > deal with Blues texture too much. That era is over since the 1920's are over.
        > But, Murray could say that on Bunk because Bunk was from the old times!
        >
        > However, Oliver had Jazz Babies Blues and Alligator and Krooked Blues and
        > Canal Street Blues, and other that were some of the best Blues in Jazz ever
        > recorded IMO. I don't believe he omitted Oliver, maybe he didn't hear the
        > right records or just forgot about him or had a short selevtive or
        > representative list.
        >
        > Tommer
        >


        Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
        howard@...
        Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098




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