Music & Memory
Strut. The way the blonde walked across the street, not taking her eyes off me
for a second, both hands in her dungaree jacket pockets above long dungaree
legs. What more can I say? I'm old. & that's just the way things are. Recent
posts of Albert King playing mean left-handed guitar brought me back to
Lennie's on the Turnpike in the early '70's, when during intermission I gave
him a rave sitting at the bar. "Who's the girl?" was his answer. "That's my
wife." Knowing what he meant. Same thing happened with B.B. Gave him a
compliment, too; all he wanted to know about was the girl. If both Kings had
their way she would have been part of the band as long as she could last.
Blind Reverend Gary Davis opened for Dylan in '65 at Newport, blowing my
mind even before the latter went electric. In Mexico City, after Manuel Avila
Camacho told us to call him when we returned from Zihuatanejo, 19-year-old
Adriana Page answered the phone. Lead actress in the film Manuel directed
on the West Coast, she invited us to Manuel's place, adding, "Manuel wants
to know if you'll go with us to see Ray Charles tonight?" All these
performance memories burst out of the lone exchange with Albert on the
barstool. There's Miles on another side of the square bar sitting behind his
glass of whiskey the same color as his trumpet, while his sidemen did most of
the work on stage. His silence, a music in its own right. My mentor for
student teaching senior year in college with the license plate "JAZZ 1"
secured the front-row table five feet from this Davis.
Tracy Nelson strutted across piano keys without Mother Earth one night in
the early '70's at Sandy's in Beverly, MA. Wow, what a big voice from a big
woman. Another night Marilyn Crispell accompanied me there, long before
she married Gary Peacock, then made a name for herself, when Illinois
Jacquet hinted into the microphone between tunes that Sandy had something
to do with Lennie's burning to the ground. Richie Havens at Club Passim for
$3. Front row, three Times, what sweat! I watch Palladia Channel now &
again, & wonder how these people can stand & stand & stand in stadium
crowds. Marilyn Crispell in a backless black dress playing Cecil Taylor before
an intimate crowd at the then Stone Soup venue. Or, alone in her Mass Ave.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse in 1969 at the Paradise. "Down by the River," out
of my Bose 901s at my first apartment in Rockport, three-rooms, all utilities,
$115 a month. Fellow first-year English teacher Joe Schuyler turning me on
to "A Love Supreme," & Roland Kirk on vinyl at his place across town.
Garth Hudson of The Band on the organ on "Chest Fever" in Music from Big
Pink, playing for free on Main Street in Scituate, during their summer
festival, followed by Eric Burdon. High, listening to It's a Beautiful Day on
Cambridge Common. Early images in family lore of my grandfather on
piano on the vaudeville stage. Years, when Bach's intricacies & simplicities
were all that mattered. Recent purchase of Beethoven: The Complete Piano
Sonatas by Alfred Brendel. Robert Hellman singing in the car Mahler's,
"Songs of the Wayfarer."
Addendum: Gary Burton on vibes, Peacock on bass, whom Jain preferred,
while I favored 22-year-old Pat Metheny. Tim Hardin. Gato Barbieri. Each
show at Paul's Mall on Boylston Street, Boston. Three Times Buddy Guy
pied-pipered the audience outside & around Lennie's with a 400-foot cord to
his electric guitar playing a hyper-Hendrix version of Dylan's "All Around
the Watchtower" (businessmen still drinkin' my wine!) Last year's all-
Prokofiev program at the Met, where Kathleen & I hovered above the
orchestra in box seats 1 & 2 of the Parterre.
Music From Big Pink