Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
A Brush With Immortality: Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and
One or two of the waitresses who'd been around for awhile knew my mother when she was working as a greeter at Dynamite Jackson's, and I think they put the word out on me. So they'd tolerate me, but they just wouldn't let me be the man that I wanted to be so desperately, because I wasn't. It's sort of funny when I look back on it. Had I been sophisticated enough to know what adulthood actually entailed, I would have been more desperate to hold on to those precious years than was I to become an adult.
So I just kept coming back and braving the humiliation, because from the time I was 12 years old I loved everything, and everybody, associated with jazz. I got that gene from my father. As I've said many times before, my father thought the only reason the Sun came up was to keep Bird's reeds warm. I had to fight the preacher at his funeral to have Jackie McLean playing "Love and Hate" in the background. I told the preacher if they don't have jazz in Heaven, the Pearly Gates would constitute the entrance to Hell for my father. The irony was, when I was done reading the eulogy that I'd written for my father (Blues For Mr. C), with Jackie Playing softly in the background, that very same preacher came up to me and asked me for a copy of it.
.On that particular night, however, after his first set, Monk walked up to me and TOLD me, "Come with me." He took me back to the musician's lounge where Nelly was, and asked, "Who does he remind you of?" And she said, "TOOTIE!" - Monk's son.
He saw me as a young wide-eyed joke, and I was. I was 16 and on a roll (I had just seenJohn Coltrane a couple of weeks earlier). Monk asked me, "What you know about jazz, boy?" And I started telling him about all the urban legends that I'd heard about him. As he was listening intently to one of my stories he asked me, "Damn! What did I do then!!!?" You have to know how Monk was to know why I look back on that as being so funny, because he was dead serious. He got into the story like I was telling him a story about someone else. I never did find out whether the story was true or not. But When I was done, he told his wife, Nelly, "Shit, he knows more about me than I do," and they started laughin' their asses off.
I spent that entire night with them, because I was so young that Nelly was worried that I was gonna be picked up by one of those,"Hollywood perverts." Monk told Nelly, "Shit,who you should be worried about is Blank" - his drummer (I''m not gonna give his name because he's famous and he's never been outed as gay). But for the rest of the night I sat in the front row next to Nelly, and after the gig I went to their hotel room with them and we grubbed and talked. I told him how I planned on becoming a great saxophone player someday, and I asked him everything I could think of about Bird. I remember him telling me, "Naw, you don't want to be Bird, unless you like bein' broke. How much money you got?" I had about five dollars in my pocket. And he said, "Shit, you already richer than Bird was half the time," and then started laughin'. Nelly said, "Don't say that, T!" They dropped me off at my mother's door just as the Sun was coming up. It was a night I will never forget.
After that episode, the OGs made me a celebrity in the hood. I've never had that much attention before, or since. I had attracted the interest of THELONIOUS MONK. EVERYBODY wanted to know EVERY detail of what went down, and every detail about Monk that they could get - everybody, including Jimmy, the brilliant dope fiend that my father had hired to teach me to play the saxophone. There are a lot of details that I've left out of this story, and I remember every detail like it happened last night, but I do intend to write about it, and every nuance of that great man in the most minute detail in the near future, because it's of historic significance. People STILL don't realize how great that man was. You can listen to "Ruby My Dear," or "Round Midnight," and they constitute a MASTER'S CLASS on what contemporary music is all about. I could appreciate that even back then. So I thank God that I had the sense to know that I was in the presence of immortality.
I also intend to write about an entire New Years weekend that I spent with Dexter Gordon during the 70s. He grew up two blocks from my mother and they both went to Jefferson High School here in Los Angeles. She graduated; he went on the road with Lionel Hampton at 17 years old. During that weekend Dex made a passing comment regarding how I idolized him that ended up becoming the guiding philosophy of my life - "Learn to become your own hero, because you're the only one who won't let you down." He also told me, "Whenever you hear me play a lick, your very first thought should be about how you could go about playing it better." He was right, and that was the key to his greatness. Lester Young was his main man, and you could hear Lester in him, but he wasn't Lester - he was Dexter, and nobody did it better. But he was wrong about one thing. He never did let me down. He blew the lights out until his very last breath. But I've taken him at his word, nevertheless, and he became my last hero. That's turned me into a severe cynic over the years, and that very cynicism has been of tremendous value to me as a writer. I don't trust the word of nobody, so I start off every piece I write by probing for lies.
A Swingin' Affair
Was told as a child
Blacks had no worth,
Not a nickel’s worth of dimes.
I believed that myth
‘Til Dex rode in
With his ax
In double time.
Horn was soarin’,
The changes flyin’,
His rhythm right on time;
Beat with the pleasure
Of new found pride,
Flowed through mine.
Took the chords
The keyboard played,
And danced around each note;
Then shuffled ‘em
Like a deck of cards,
And didn’t miss a stroke.
B minor 7 with flatted 5th,
A half diminished chord,
He substituted a lick in D,
Then really began to soar.
He tipped his hat
To Charlie Parker,
Trane with Miles,
Then paid his homage to
In Charlie Rouse's style.
A Scrapple From The Apple,
Then went to Billie’s Bounce,
The rhythm section, now on fire,
But he didn’t budge an ounce.
Dug right in
To shuffle again,
A Royal Flush;
Then lingered a bit
Behind the beat,
But in no rush.
Doubled the time
Just like this rhyme,
In fluid 16th notes,
Charlie and Lester,
"Your baby boy, Dexter’s,
On top of the
Bebop you wrote."
Like a banshee,
This prince of saxophone,
His ballads dripped of honey,
His Arpeggios were strong.
Callin’ on his idles,
Ghost of Pres’
Within in the isles,
Smiling at his protege,
At the peak of this new style.
Drenched of Blackness,
And all the things we are -
Of pain, and pleasure,
And creative greatness
Until his final bar.
*So we've been blessed, Playthell, and I intend to share that blessing, just as you have with your piece on the Duke. We're old schoolers. We've had the opportunity to be up close and personal with the kind of greatness that this world may never see again. So we have an obligation to share it, because after us, it will be lost forever.
Did I ever become that great saxophone player that I told Monk that was going to become? No. Because I never reached the caliber that I demanded of myself, and I wasn't raised to be a member of the dime-a-dozen club. I'd rather entertain myself in my bedroom and DREAM about being great than just being "one of the boys." If you can't be the best, it ain't worth doing. But sometimes, on a good day, Dex will step in and help me to make my eyes moist. I live for those days, when I don't think theory, notes, or chord progressions; when I just close my eyes and pour out my soul. Those days, as fleeting as they are, are good enough for me.
So while I still love playing my horn, I became a writer instead, because that's what I seem to do best - and as a writer, at least I can edit for quality as I go along; but as a musician, once it's played, it's out there. That's what makes jazz such a brilliant art form, the demand that it places on its musicians to compose their own compositions on the spot, based on some of the most intricate rhythms and chord progressions in music. It literally DEMANDS of it's practitioners a form of artistic genius. Thus, when I can substantiate my passions, I put them in the form of an essay. When I can't substantiate what I feel, I express my impressions through poetry. But during those times when I'm feeling the kind of passion that I can't express in words, only then, do I pickup my horn.
But 52nd Street is always tugging at my heart, because that's who I am. Many people who are long gone now put in a lot of work over the years to see to it, so I always live with a sense of letting them down. There are two brothers playing all over the world today who I taught to HOLD the saxophone, to play their chromatic scale, and who I taught the musical theory behind ii, V, Is ( you musicians will know what I'm talking about), and frankly, that brings me much pain. I feel displaced. I wasn't born to be Langston Hughes; I was born to be Bird, so even if I became lauded as the greatest writer who ever lived, I still wouldn't be able to escape that pain. But my problem has always been that I was TOO well schooled in jazz, and at much too early an age, so I've never been able to appreciate baby steps, as every good musician should. Instead of taking pride in how far I'd come, I'd listen to Dex, Jackie, or Trane and agonize over how far I had to go; and instead being thrilled at how well I could play "Misty," I'd be depressed at how sluggish I was at playing Bird's "Anthropology." That's a curse. But my blessing is, unlike most people who hear something they like and say, I'm going to go buy that, I can say, I'm going home and play that. Oh yes, I can play any tune, and in any key - Gb is just like C to me - but from the time I was a child, I've always known what it meant to be a GREAT musician, and I'm just not there . . . yet.
Show 'em what I mean, Dexter, Jackie.
but that solemn moan made it all his own, as burning passion flowed lush from his horn.
Hearing “Love and Hate” made Jazz my fate, joyous anguish dripped blue from his song. He both smiled and cried and dug deep-down inside, until the innocence of my childhood was gone.
As I heard this new sound, and embraced the profound, childish eyes now saw as a man;
I stood totally perplexed, but I couldn’t step back, from the hunger of my mind to expand. I saw Charlie and Lester, and a smiling young Dexter, as I peered into Jackie’s sweet horn;
it was a place that I knew, though I’d never been to, but a place that I now call my home.
That's jazz. That's greatness. That's world-class excellence and what it means to be Black, and we should never forget that.
Presenting Ms. Rita Edmond - Meet The Contemporary Face of True Jazz Royalty
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.Sphere: Related Content
When Jackie McLean first appeared on the scene he swung it like nobody else;
He stood all alone, with that bittersweet tone, owing nobody, only himself.
With his furious attack he could take you back to the beauty of Yardbird’s song,
Satire Essay Topics List
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, satire is defined as “humor that is used to make fun of and often show the weaknesses of someone or something.” Satirical or satire essays often make use of humor, irony, and hyperbole to poke fun or criticize an object or a person. A majority of these are aimed at politicians, particular events, or even celebrities. The purpose of writing a satirical essay is simply to entertain readers and therefore, topic selection is indeed critical.
Consequently, here are examples of satire essay topics you can consider when writing your essay:
- Increased fixation with social media platforms.
- Employment: The harder you work, the lesser the pay.
- The US government struggle to develop a new health care act.
- The federal budget and its flaws.
- Kevin Durant getting booed in return to Oklahoma.
- The rift between Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.
- Increased rate of teenage pregnancies.
- Workplace harassment.
- Sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Gender bias in the workplace.
- Problems the upper-class individuals face.
- Facebook and Instagram friends are the best.
- How to twist a lie and make it convincing.
- Why school is a waste of time.
- Video game skills should be considered during job interviews.
- Why the phrase “Any publicity is good publicity” makes zero sense.
- The recipe of being an annoying human being.
- How to change from an extrovert to an introvert.
- Special guidelines on how to fail in your exams.
- Do politicians tell lies?
- Why should the Avengers lead our troops in the fight against ISIS?
- Why I will hire Mike Ross and Harvey Specter as my lawyers?
- Do we really need gun control?
- Why global warming is simply a hoax?
- Advantages of being homeless.
- Do we really need the freedom of speech?
- Writing a movie review on a movie you have never watched.
- How to avoid getting punished even while you are on the wrong?
- How to pass your exams without studying?
- Reasons why dropping out of school is important for some people.
- Why it is important to have your teenager son/daughter as your financial advisor.
- Why you should be friends with your parents on social media.
- Why it is important not to ignore strangers.
- Reasons why some men should consider being stay-at-home dads.
- Why your pet will never assume the role of your best friend.
- What diseases has music really cured?
- If the ozone layer is depleted, what will we be left with?
- Who is the slave, man or technology?
- What should be the appropriate sentence or punishment for animal cruelty charges?
- What exactly is meant by the phrase “rat race”?
- Are rats also involved in their rat race?
- Reasons why girls workout more than boys.
- Eliminating currency can help solve the problem of lack of money.
- Why cars should be banned to help reduce air pollution.
- Why FIFA should make soccer watching illegal to avert the dangers of hooliganism.
- Food should be distributed according to a person’s body weight.
- Equal salaries are the only solution to help eliminate social prejudice.
- What will we do when the graves become overcrowded?
- Using illegal immigrants as free workforce can help prevent others from coming.
- Why TV shows currently make a strong case to be considered as babysitters.
- If you wake up as Kanye West tomorrow, would you remain married to Kim?
- As president for a day, which basketball game would you rush to watch?
- Each country should build a wall round its borders to help keep its people in.
- Is healthcare as complicated as the Republicans are making it to be?
- Will it ever be possible to assign one’s sleeping time to a robot?
- Should teachers be required to wear uniforms?
- How to win an argument with your girlfriend.
- How to break up with your girlfriend via social media.
- A guy’s hairdo advice for girls.
- Steps on how to be annoying on social media.
- How politicians lie and blame it on their duty to the citizens.
- Things to do to avoid getting into a relationship.
- What to do when your boss finds you mocking them.
- Ten reasons why brushing your teeth brings you closer to your grave.
- What are some of the problems that the working class individuals face?
- How to arrange and have an awkward date with your crush.
- Why Donald Trump is my hero.
- How not to do your chores.
- What to do when surrounded by zombies.
- If my identity is stolen, will I have a different face?
- How to always show up late for dates.
- How not to get asked what you are currently doing with your life.
- How aliens built the Great Chinese Wall.
- How to breakup with your girlfriend without talking to her.
- How to defeat terrorists by downing our fighting gear.
- How to be a nosy friend.
- Here are some of the real causes of global warming.
- Why I will be voting for Captain America as the 46th President of the United States.
- Why we need an off button for the Internet.
- Why conservative media houses should exclusively cover news regarding Trump.
- Google is indeed making us more knowledgeable and hard-working individuals.
- Why I prefer North Korea’s press freedom to ours.
- Why women lift heavier weights than men especially in the gym.
- Why recycling is the worst remedy for environmental pollution.
- Top 10 reasons why Russia is America’s closest ally.
- Reasons why Brexit is good for Britain.
- Five reasons why animals should have equal rights as human beings.
- Why deforestation must continue to help accommodate the surging number of people.
- Is capitalism the direct opposite of communism?
- Should people be forced into interracial marriages so as to help eliminate racial discrimination?
- Why Kenneth Bone became an Internet sensation during the presidential debate.
- Five reasons why President Trump was sniffing a lot during the debate.
- Why President Trump has the best temperament compared to a majority of former US presidents.
- Why President Trump is likely to deliver on all of his promises before his first 100 days in office are over.
- Why I prefer taking the trash out over all other chores.
- Why the barter system is better than the current monetary system.
- How students can experience a stress-free environment in college.
- How mathematics came to be my favorite subject in school.
- Why the government is right to infringe on our privacy.
- Where do all the mismatched socks disappear to?
- Some of the inherent mistakes within our families.