Saturday, April 7, 2012

The only truly American musical idiom - le jass bleu

One day, I was watching television in Houston in the mid-afternoon - some station with an offbeat kind of programming - and there amid the soap operas and other assorted trashy stuff, there was this very elegant program that originated at the Cork Club at the Rice Hotel, hosted by a singing trio of brothers who featured musicians and writers who passed through town, many of them going through treatments at the Medical Center. Hoagie Carmichael sat down at a baby grand and just leaned into his classic, "Stardust," sang the lyrics in black and white, and I thought, man, "How cool is this? This old cat just slick as can be, Jimbo. Too bad I can't hear it again, you know." But that was long ago... I got to watching that show pretty regularly. I saw Count Basie. I think he played "Moten Swing." Then Frank Sinatra did this same number, and I was hooked - totally and permanently. They say Mr. Hoagie Carmichael was a song demonstrator who worked at various music publishing houses in Tin Pan Alley, playing numbers on the piano for artists, managers, producers, and other assorted show biz people - Can I hear it in A? - I kind of want to believe that, whether it's true, or not. Oh, yeah, dig the little Gershwin arpeggios Mr. Carmichael throws in there. Man had some style, and, what's more, he wore a fedora - The Legendary

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