Tag Archive: Jazz music


I have a friend…well, it has been a while since we hung-out, so maybe I should write, “I know a guy…” who I first saw telling jokes during my DJ time-outs at a bar, formerly located in Uniondale, Long Island, called The Dolphins Cove. He grew up in Roosevelt, Long Island, around the block from the only woman lucky enough to marry me right out of college when we both were too young to do so. He used to come over to my ex’s in-laws house to court her younger sister while I was still in the mix. His name is Eddie Murphy, and I just found a movie in which he starred, that was not one of his typically funny ones, called “Mr. Church”, in my local library’s DVD section!

Actually, it was previewed on another movie’s disc; I didn’t even know that he was still working or that it existed! Mr. Murphy used to leave my name at the door when he was performing his stand-up at the hottest New York City comedy clubs (at the time I was a pretty warm local radio DJ).

This is the first movie write-up I have ever penned on this blog I think, and I do it because “Mr. Church” moved me so much! How much? Well lets just say that I sat there like an old lady with a moist handkerchief, constantly dabbing at my teary eyes throughout the film. I guess I forgot about my sentimental side, calloused by many failed love affairs and poverty through the years. Watching it a second time did not deviate from the previous reactions.

Maybe it is because I knew/know Eddie as a comedian, and remember those at the Dolphin’s Cove “booing” when he was trying-out his material and chanting, “Bring back the Dee Jay, Bring back the Dee Jay!” lol OR…somehow I relate to the story-line of a bachelor who likes to cook and does it well, while slightly self-abusing his talents with whatever medicine while fighting past disrespectful persons in his life. We all “grow up” sooner or later in our creativity – as silly as we used to be and I can testify (but I still like to be “silly” and laugh as much as I can- just seems to be fewer people with a sense of humor now) to the metamorphosis! That clarinet theme song doesn’t dispel my melancholy either – it only encourages this movie’s spiteful therapy at me.

Cannot find the name of that clarinet-led theme song during the ending credits, however. Anybody?

I now will return the “Mr.Church” DVD to my local library, so if someone reads this, they can share my experience – or not – and learn more about ourselves. “Mr Church” is emotional dynamite for Mr. Murphy and the cast! As someone who reviews music and other media, I rate this move with four of five sentimental stars.

Major Props, Eddie on your beautiful wife and new family.

       

One of the great things about music is that it keeps coming at you through time, if you keep on living.  Have you ever had the experience of hearing a song of your youth again for the first time, and finally understanding that lyric you never really could figure out, but you would somehow gloss-over it as you sang-along with it a thousand times?  Have you ever known a song was a classic and not known why, except that the title and original singer commanded so  much respect, that you followed the herd of homage until you just accepted it as a fact – again, not completely comprehending?   

Poplar Tree on the left in this picture:

Such is the case with me (again, thankfully as I love to learn new stuff ), a tree that stands guard at my driveway and a Billy Holiday classic, “Strange Fruit”. 

I learned that this is a (flowering) Poplar tree through the years I have lived here, and basically thought nothing of it except for the fact that it is obviously ancient, and frequently tosses its heavy branches down upon and close to my car and house with the stormy winds that usher-in storms from the northwest.  I always heard the words “strange fruit” in combination, more like and idiom or phrase that had a hidden connotation – until this past Sunday when, while listening to NPR’s  “Jazz Profiles” hosted by Ms. Nancy Wilson (who I love like an Aunt – a whole other post), I heard Billie Holiday sing it, and learned that she sang it first – and the historical significance that song has relative to the history of racial relations in America.  My little known fact moment came when Ms. Wilson narrated that the “strange fruit” in the song so aptly interpreted by Ms. Holiday were actually lynched Black Americans of the slavery days, “swingin” under the branches of the that tree. 

The idea of being dragged-off to be lynched by an angry mob of southern white men just because of the color of your skin is abhorrent to me and many, many people.  It is one of those things that was swept under the historical rug in America and is “not spoken of” anymore – until some silly magazine editor does something like put a hangman’s noose on the cover of a magazine article about Tiger Woods, as happened a few years ago.

So now when I spy by eye this big lumber watching over me, I can almost see the ugliness and dry “blood” etched within those deep old vertical crevices.  It is another of my life’s ironies, as from time-to-time I have the opportunity to drop the science that as recently as thirty or forty years ago, I could have been one of Poplar’s ornaments instead sharing this land with it – and praying that the next branch to fall finds only the ground.  I remember once one of them decending like a spear, sticking deeply into the ground only feet from where I was tyring to upright my wind-scattered recycle bin as I returned home from work during a thunder storm.

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Do you remember the TV game show, “Name That Tune”? Well, Saturday night, just as I am about to go to sleep early for a change like  a “good boy”, a Wes Montgomery jazz number’s last notes sparked an idea for an update on that show’s theme.  The notes were suddenly dancing in my head earlier that afternoon, which is how it is to be me.  I think my mind is better than any radio station’s automation at selecting random and timely music of the past forty years to torment me with.

So I just HAD to play this song in order to get it out of my mental front row seats and maintain what I know as sanity.  I had to find it first in my library, which, incredibly I  did, almost immediately!  Wow and Holy Cow!  I hadn’t been to my “jazz crates” in a while, but went right to it!  This is one reason I call my vinyls my “children”, I always know where to find them through my own unique memory catalogue system.  The only knowledge I had going-in was, “vibes, jazz, last eight notes” and I thought it might be  the late Milt Jackson playing them.

As a DJ and player of many notes in songs, I have never before conjured-up a song that I just HAD to play from its last eight notes!  How Fun! OMG!  Then to grab it at 3:30 AM on my first try?  I knew at that moment that bedtime was now postponed for at least another hour, so I re-charged my inner night owl, poured another glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and proceeded to find the cut on “Wes and Friends” , a  February 1973 Milestone Records “specially priced two-record set”  addition to my library featuring Wes, Milt Jackson and George Shearing.   

 Fortunately I made good notes amongst the centerfold liner notes and track listing, and remembered that this song had two versions, If I wasn’t mistaken.  Sure enough, after briefly going to “Stairway To The Stars” on side one, where I wrote in red “Oh Yes!”, I saw “Blue Roz” [Take 3 and Take 4] and next to them via a connected arrow the word “serius” underlined twice by me all those years ago.  I knew I had my selection!  I thought, “I bet they don’t have  this one on You Tube, and I was right – to an extent – they do have it on another album, “Bags Meets Wes”.  Jackson really swings on this composition, portraying the introduction,  body and conclusion with Philly Joe Jones on drums laying-down the solid foundation;  “Bags” was Milt’s  nickname by the way.  

 The one time I interviewed Milt Jackson was at Grant’s Tomb in New York City during a summertime Jazzmobile outdoor concert in the late 1980s.  He was still cool and up there in age by then, and I have him on tape not wanting to reveal why they called him “Bags” saying jovially, “Well we’re not going to get into that right now…” LOL  A great moment. Play it again, and listen for those last eight notes!  Wouldn’t this be a great idea for a game show?  “ba-bong, ba-bong, ba-ba bong-bonggg….”

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