Friday, December 2, 2016

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This conflict with The unquestioned austerity uber alles.

Julia - Ko-Ko


Nov 26 1945
WOR Studio
New York City, New York

It cannot be said my friend that all is infatuation with the presentation of the moment as question and answer period, instead kind takes a flow that moves over and under time passes as moments in the mist that wraps now inside it then inside of a premise in eternity that comes down to the moment, which is not the same thing as now, if you dig what I'm saying you'll understand.

It was November 26 and I was going down to Parker's apartment to bring back the man we all knew as “Bird”, for the bird he shot with a shotgun and ate in front of all the band members one day in July. More people have said they were there, and if it's true, there must be 400 people who were there when he did it. I wasn't, I'm not afraid to say, but trust me I've heard a distant different renditions from people who say they were there that day. Me, I don't even know which day it is, because renditions differ. How am I supposed to know?

So anyway, Byrd was booked for a three hour session, doing four tunes in New York. It was a union contract mood at by some people the week before. It was all legal and official like. Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Curly Russell, and Max Roach were allegedly booked for the time. And I was sent down to Bird's apartment, to get full bird and Bud Powell. Anyway there was bird they are all right, but there was no Powell, because he was working on his mother. She wanted to go to Philadelphia, and look at a pad which supposedly was big enough for herself, and off she went with Bud. And well you see there was no nevermind about what she wanted to do, when she wanted to, contract or no contract she was going to have her boy with her.

Anyway, I got there and I will tell you that I was cool because I knew that Dizzy Gillespie was staying at birds apartment, and while I didn't exactly know him, I knew him by reputation, and substituting Powell for Gillespie was a no-brainer, sorry but it's true, anyone would take Gillespie, including, and probably dis-including, Powell. It was that that bad.

So I got on to the front stoop, and their was bird, absolutely as friendly as day, and I knew that he had told Powell to get lost, that dizzy was really the person he wanted as the person tickling the keys, there was no two ways about it. “No need to worry, here is our piano player, rest assured.” who was I to judge?

So I took the two of them down to the station, I can't remember which room we were in, and there is confusion from the other people involved. And you know something? It doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter at all, but you will have 10 different opinions, and that is only from two different people. You know how it is when something small gets caught up in the details. It assumes a kind of detail that normally you wouldn't recollect anything about it if it were not part of the substance and significance of the moment. And boy was that ever a moment to paint a picture of. After all, it'd been three years since we been allowed to record, what with the war going on and all.

Anyway, first we start talking about what they were going to be playing, and I wasn't doing any talking just listening for ideas. It was of course Bird who had settled on bringing Gillespie's new rendition of “Cherokee” , because having listened to Duke Ellington's rendition from a few years ago, I checked it was 1940, he wanted that to be the marker that things were going to be different after the war. “It was a new generation.” someone said, I don't think it was Parker.

There was no warm up, new beats before, they were ready, and it started quick and ended quicker.

Well it started out with an eight part phrase, both alto and in unison octaves, each note played in unison no quirks or vibaroto. Then the trumpet goes solo, and then the sax does the same thing, each playing a different caress on the same notes but completely different in their interpretation and excitation, one could not even guess they were playing the same tune. The first take someone, not playing anything, started whistling and clapping and shouting, “You can't play that”, and so they started again, doing the 32 bar introduction piece, but then they skip the Cherokee introduction, that being the cause that started the whistling and clapping. You see, playing the piece as the piece was a big no-no.

So they got to the 64 bar solos from Parker, and what a tune it was to become. No one could believe that anyone could do such things on the sax, okay maybe it Parker believed, but no one else did. And it was fast, oh God was it fast, take the fastest piece by Beethoven, and double it, that's how fast it was. And Parker started with quavers, and went on to yet more difficult pieces, including a notoriously difficult quotation from Picou playing “High Society”. Even now, I can't believe I heard live.

I can't tell you how difficult it sounds on the recording, and how easy Parker made it look. There was a total disconnect between the eyes and the ears. It was almost as if looking at him it was easy, but if you closed your eyes, and listened, really listened, it sounded as hard as anything that you have heard played. Maybe even more so than that, if you can believe it. The people watching it were open jawed amazed, just flabbergasting. If someone tells you that they were there, don't believe them, because there were only a few of us who actually listened to it as alive as live gets. And they have all been heard from.

Anyway, as I was saying, after Parker's enormously long solo, there comes in a drum solo from Max, which in its own way takes the cake, and you'll hear plenty of people saying that was the best solo for drums that they have ever heard. I won't get in to the drum solo part, because that is really for drummers to contend with. And believe me, you can get a heated argument on which offbeat is better, let alone the whole solo.

Finally there is a 28 bar coda, somehow integrating all the main themes and sly lick from Parker and Davis, obviously they had planned this for a very long time, no one could just improvise, it was a planned improvisation. Then suspended on top was an imperfect cadence, the kind which hangs there and you think it will resolve, but it never does, even in your mind it doesn't.

That's how I remember it, other people may remember things differently. But I can hear fragments of this recording everywhere, I may just be locked in a kind of written with it, and there is nothing I can do about it. I wish I could go back to the beginning of the session, and here it through once again live, and thrill to the extreme virtuoso performance that Parker gave on that night.

I missing him, and the sounds that he made for the first time. I can go on talking and talking about this, and while talking I could just be able to touch the hem, and ride off in two the sunset, talking about Bird and the amazing days he started. It really wasn't the first bebop performance, but it was the first one recorded, and from there it slipped into a groove never before sounded out.

And that's the good thing, is it? The only thing I wish is that Hakim, that's his name now, would have recorded Ko-Ko as well, but he had to leave because he was not a member of the New York City Union.

Will I think it is, and from the number of recordings after the war, many other people were locked in that same place, and tell rock 'n roll and then just rock, took its place on the scene where jazz was once supreme.

(What Teddy doesn't say, is he was the producer of this session. He also disagrees with John Mehegan in putting Powell in the mix of things, appoint which he agrees with most people. And since he was sent to collect people, he should know. The other thing which he doesn't recall is that Dizzy was under the pseudonym “Hen Gates”. I should also mention that according to most people he was the one who said “you can't play like that” - though of course he demires to other people. - SN)

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