Back in the day Sonny Rollins and Jackie Mclean were playing together in Harlem.Place was packed in anticipation of hearing them do what they do.
In walks Sonny Stitt with an alto in one hand and a tenor in the other.Sonny walks right up on stage.He points at both of them.
“I’ve been waiting to get you two motherfuckers in the same place at the same time for quite awhile now.”
True story as told to me by piano master Harold Mabern.I pressed for more golden nuggets but was then shocked to hear the impossible.
“Freddie Hubbard walked out on Booker Little in tears one time.Booker had something he just didn’t have and it messed him up.” What? The King?
“Woody Shaw exclaiming on stage once..”Freddie Hubbard! I used to be afraid of you but not anymore.I’m 34 years old.”
And finally when I inquired about Lee Morgan..
“Well..when your teachers are Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown what do you expect?!”
I thanked Harold for the seeds of truth and told him about the time we crossed paths during my two weeks at William Paterson before they found out I was broke.I had lunch with him in the hallway one day sitting in a windowsill.He told me then what he told me now,that he was a traditionalist.When I inquired about OC he said “I respect my Pisces brother for what he did,but I do what I do.” Mad respect HM.
Breaking bread with Harold got me thinking about today vs. yesterday…the truth.It hit me the hardest when I had this epiphany:
I have to believe that most of the masters of this music would not be interested in transcribing the solos of most of us under 50 years old today.I know Louis learned King Oliver solos and Bird learned Lester Young solos,I cop to that,but are any of us today going for and getting ourselves to such a degree that people would need to get that close to us? Everybody today wants technical perfection at the cost of the THING.That wrinkle that makes us who we are.I never did the transcription thing for better or worse.I could try and transcribe a Roy Campbell solo but there is no one else who could ever play the way he does.I’ve never stopped for a minute trying to be a better musician but for the love of God I play ME.
Hmm…maybe this new 1927 Conn Trumpet can help me get there.POP! SIZZLE! Happy birthday to me.Yeah,maybe there is something to this whole vintage thing.Problem is we are always trying to get to the place they had always been at naturally by just being themselves.
Hey,I know we still have something to say today.I’m blessed to know some true originals,TRUE originals.It’s taken me 25 years just to see my own thing.Miles said it takes some people a long time.Shit,I spent 13 years playing the wrong horn.I’m my own worst enemy but I believe the heart of Jazz is taking a chance and for a trumpet player to fuck with bass clarinet as much as I did has to be the ultimate chance.
Backstage at the recent William Parker concert at Roulette Cooper Moore was shocked by what he heard coming out of my horn,I could see his reaction right away.
“You haven’t heard me in awhile man.I can play now motherfucker”
“I put the bass clarinet down to focus on it”
“Well you needed to put that down”
“Yeah but now I fuck with the Alto Clarinet,were in Love.”
I’ve been known to silence people that talk more than anyone.I called up Joe Maneri one time and exclaimed..
“Joe! I finally got it.Your music is the vehicle.Through you the Earth heals from all the spiritual damage we did to life during World War two.Your music is the spiritual healing of the world!”
. . . . .
All I know is,that no matter what we keep going.Bird could of only existed when he did,and we exist now.We are here to play the music of NOW,not THEN.If your here now then you and your music are needed now.The world is changing.The spiritual awakening that John and Alice told us about is actually here.
I can feel changes in the music.Never before have so many people been so inclined to allow the spiritual aspects to flow inside the music.The river is indeed flowing.I know people who create new music every day.Every freakin’ month there’s another memorial and sooner or later the musicians of today are going to have to take up the mantle of the responsibility of the music.The masters and creators are not going to be here forever.
Now’s the time motherfuckers. . . . . .
. . .
For Luke Cage,recently deceased trying to infiltrate Ultron’s take over and re-writing of the world.