Giuseppi Logan and the great mystery

 

Several years ago I was selling reeds and valve oil at Sam Ash when suddenly Roswell Rudd was standing in front of me. I told him I knew Giuseppi Logan since I knew they had history. Roswell got serious, looked me right in the eye and without hesitation emphatically said that Giuseppi was a genius.

 

Back when I was trying to help G stage a comeback he always wanted to play standards. We never knew what he would call next, and he certainly kept me on my toes after I had given up playing standards for years. G would call tunes in keys nobody played, and going further he would play bridges from songs different than what we were playing. While he played he would sometimes stare at Francois Grillot playing bass relying on him as a kind of tether to Earth, as Francois could follow and support him wherever he went. We played this way for a couple of years and Giuseppi eventually had a crumpled up piece of paper on it with a list of the tunes we might play. Sometimes G would surprise us like when he called Confirmation at the Downtown Music Gallery and nailed it, or when we really dug into Cherokee at the Firehouse Space. So here we had a man who had made an enormous proclamation and declaration of self in the 60’s who felt that playing this way was the path to get back to himself decades later.

 

Here’s the thing. It was working. Eventually Giuseppi wrote all new music and the sequel to his ESP records was planned. We rehearsed this music as Giuseppi became even stronger. It was here that the deep shadow of New York City descended upon us to remind us all of our place. In a matter of days our momentum was shattered and for Giuseppi it was the beginning of the end.

 

During Giuseppi’s standards phase I learned more about music and life than I did from possibly any other source. What happened when he played these standards? At the Local 269 Giuseppi called My Favorite Things, and it became the damnedest version that may have ever been played. G slowed it down and warped it in a way that simply no other musician on Earth would ever consider. Then he started telling us a story of tremendous loss. The loss of his family, the years of being institutionalized, the years on the streets. Giuseppi told the people at this dive bar on the lower east side that by the time his life ended he would never have experienced any of his favorite things besides music.

 

Despite it all, there was still a layer of hope.

 

His inner light was dim.

 

Blinking in and out.

 

But it still shined.

 

Giuseppi is still here with us. Roy Campbell is gone. Bern Nix is gone. Throughout jazz history we hear tale after tale of early, painful, and tragic death. But the powers of the universe, the great mystery of who leaves when and why has decided that he remain on the Earth. He’s still my brother, and I still have his back.

 

Where did his music come from? The last several years I’ve been scouring jazz history for answers to what I call the great mystery. At the core the question remains-is jazz in or out or both? In 2018 everybody seems to need to pick a place to be so they can be a brand. But the deeper I look the more evidence I’m finding that it’s finally time for us to resolve the questions that Ornette asked us all long ago. Maybe our dysfunctional family can move on somehow.

 

I have an eyewitness account of Monk and Ornette attending a concert together and hanging out.

Miles sat in with Ornette and played Don Cherry’s pocket trumpet all night

Miles tried to buy tunes from Ornette

Ornette told me that to become himself he had to master Bird.

On his quest to become himself, Coltrane worked for Johnny Hodges, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles.

 

Jazz is currently undergoing an intellectual expansion while an ongoing confirmation of self takes place. These two things can’t continue forever. I feel that the music is going to take yet another turn towards an absolute core of itself.

 

This is the place where Duke wouldn’t write changes for a soloist but would only write a name and an amount of time to play such as -Barney 8 bars-

This is the place where Ornette taught the members of Prime Time the chords to Kathelin Gray.

This is where Johnny Griffin would just “go for himself” while playing with Monk.

 

This is the place where the humanity in music becomes more important than the rules.

 

This is the place where Giuseppi Logan came from.

 

From the center of the great mystery of jazz.

 

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