Amoeblog

Happy Birthday Arthur Tatum Jr., October 13th, 1909

Posted by Whitmore, October 13, 2009 12:25pm | Post a Comment
 
Art Tatum is acknowledged by anyone who knows anything as one of the greatest and most influential jazz pianists of all time. A child prodigy born with perfect pitch, Tatum was picking up church hymns and tunes off the radio by ear at the age of three. As a teenager, the nearly blind Tatum started at the Columbus School for the Blind where he studied music and learned Braille. His first musical heroes were his contemporaries like the stride pianists James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, and Earl Hines. Within a few years he was playing in New York settling at the Onyx Club where he recorded his first sides for Brunswick. Tatum developed an incredibly fast improvisational style, and though he rarely ventured far from the original melodic lines of a song, his technique and ideas are a direct line to the bebop revolution of the late 1940’s. One of Tatum’s great quotes was “There is no such thing as a wrong note.”
 
Though I’m often dubious of many opinions laid out by jazz critic Leonard Feather, I have to more or less agree with him when he called Tatum "the greatest soloist in jazz history, regardless of instrument." Legendary French writer and artist Jean Cocteau called Tatum "a crazed Chopin." Count Basie called him the eighth wonder of the world. Classical composer Sergei Rachmaninoff once said, "he has better technique than any other living pianist, and may be the greatest ever." Dizzy Gillespie said, "First you speak of Art Tatum, then take a long deep breath, and you speak of the other pianists." Charlie Parker, who briefly worked as a dishwasher at Jimmie's Chicken Shack in Manhattan, where Tatum regularly performed, once said, “I wish I could play like Tatum’s right hand!” One of the most famous quotes about Art Tatum was by Fats Waller, whose introduction one night announced, "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house." Waller also once said, "When that man turns on the powerhouse, don't no one play him down. He sounds like a brass band."
 
Art Tatum died in Los Angeles on March 12, 1955 at Queen of Angels Medical Center from the complications of kidney failure. He was originally interred at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, but in 1991 he was moved to the Great Mausoleum of Glendale's Forest Lawn Cemetery.



rhyme or reason not necessary

Posted by Whitmore, October 11, 2009 11:11pm | Post a Comment
T.S. Eliot
This past week in Great Britain, in honor of their National Poetry Day, the BBC commissioned a poll to name Britain’s favorite poet. And oddly enough they chose the great American writer T.S. Eliot, best known for his landmark poems The Wasteland and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The 1948 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but moved to England in his mid twenties where eventually he became a British citizen.
 
According to the BBC, more than 18,000 people voted online. Eliot won by a narrow margin, just ahead of John Donne, the 16th and 17th Century metaphysical poet, with Benjamin Zephaniah coming in third. Zephaniah was the only living poet on the list. Born in 1958, he is a Rastafarian dub poet who last year was included in The Times' list of Britain's top 50 post-war writers. Coming in fourth was Wilfred Owen, the First World War poet who was killed in action at the Battle of the Sambre just a week before the war ended, and rounding out the Top Five was Philip Larkin, who was also renowned as a novelist and a jazz critic.
 
Many in academia’s hierarchy were a bit perturbed by the lack of rhyme or reason to the top ten finishers. No John Milton or W. H. Auden (maybe because he became an American citizen) or Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney or Ted Hughes or even this old guy named Shakespeare. Most of the great Romantic poets were also shut out: William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Carol Ann Duffy, the current Poet Laureate of Britain, didn’t make the top ten, nor did Rudyard Kipling, who back in 1995 was named Britain’s favorite poet.
 
The rest in the exclusively male top ten include William Blake, William Butler Yeats, John Betjeman, John Keats and Dylan Thomas.
 
According to those carrying out the BBC poll, for several months Wilfred Owen led in the voting, most likely reflecting the concerns over the rise of UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan this past summer. But very surprisingly, in the last few weeks, Eliot and The Wasteland pulled it out in the end.
 
While the results of the poll demonstrated a growing interest in contemporary poetry and that classic poetry still seems to have a strange hold on reader’s affections, the National Poetry Day event and Top Ten list comes on the heels of a survey conducted by the UK Literacy Association that found more than half of primary school teachers could name no more than two poets.


Happy Birthday Thelonious Sphere Monk

Posted by Whitmore, October 10, 2009 12:37pm | Post a Comment

 “I'm famous. Ain't that a bitch?”
 
“Wrong is right.”
 
“Sometimes it's to your advantage for people to think you're crazy.”
 
“If someone wants to play music you do not have to get a ruler or whips to make them practice.”
 
“Be-bop wasn't developed in any deliberate way.”
 
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”
 
“All musicians stimulate each other. The vibrations get scattered around.”
 
“If you really understand the meaning of be-bop, you understand the meaning of freedom.”
 
“Man, that cat is nuts.” (Monk’s comment about Ornette Coleman.)
 
“Jazz is my adventure. I'm after new chords, new ways of syncopating, new figures, new runs. How to use notes differently. That's it. Just using notes differently.”
 
“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”
 
“I don't have a definition of jazz... You're just supposed to know it when you hear it.”
 
“I say, play your own way. Don’t play what the public wants -- you play what you want and let the public pick up on what you doing -- even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years.”
 
“Miles’d got killed if he hit me.”
 
“Where’s jazz going? I don’t know? Maybe it’s going to hell. You can’t make anything go anywhere. It just happens.”
 
“Those who want to know what sound goes into my music should come to New York and open their ears.”
 
“I like to sleep. There is no set time of day for sleep. You sleep when you’re tired, that’s all there is to it.”
 
“I don’t consider myself a musician who has achieved perfection and can’t develop any further. But I compose my pieces with a formula that I created myself. Take a musician like John Coltrane. He is a perfect musician, who can give expression to all the possibilities of his instrument. But he seems to have difficulty expressing original ideas on it. That is why he keeps looking for ideas in exotic places. At least I don’t have that problem, because, like I say, I find my inspiration in myself.”
 
“At this time the fashion is to bring something to jazz that I reject. They speak of freedom. But one has no right, under pretext of freeing yourself, to be illogical and incoherent by getting rid of structure and simply piling a lot of notes one on top of the other. There’s no beat anymore. You can’t keep time with your foot. I believe that what is happening to jazz with people like Ornette Coleman, for instance, is bad. There’s a new idea that consists in destroying everything and find what’s shocking and unexpected; whereas jazz must first of all tell a story that anyone can understand.”
 
“Well, I enjoy doing it. That’s all I wanted to do anyway. I guess, you know, if I didn’t make it with the piano, I guess I would have been the biggest bum.”
 
Thelonious Monk was once asked what he thought of Downbeats jazz polls, he thought for a moment and replied, “I have a lot of respect for the Polish people, especially the way they can drink vodka.”



Happy Birthday John Winston Lennon!

Posted by Whitmore, October 9, 2009 09:31pm | Post a Comment

About the Awful

I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who had only one). Anyway, they didn't get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn't pass-much to my Aunties supplies. As a memebr of the most publified Beatles me and (P, G, and R's) records might seem funnier to some of you than this book, but as far as I'm conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I've ever ready.
God help and breed you all.
 
A Reason for Breathing


I pictured myself on a boat on a river with tangerine trees and nervous dysplasia. This was to be the final chapter in my life savings. I pulled the plug and boarded an Amtrak to nowhere. I had suffered insomnia all my life, but, like Isaac Newton, had put it down to apples. It was hereditary (so was my forehead). I wished to remain anonymous in a world of Philadelphians. I ticked myself off and put myself in my place, a two-bedroomed brownstone of ill repute. I was convinced I'd been here before. Call it what you will, I call it daft. Had I walked these same dusty springfields before? Or was I just a victim of circumnavigation? Yea, tho' I walk thru Rudy Valle, I will fear no Evel Knievel. Junk food made me silly; fast food slowed me down; I had to get off at the next stop. I alighted to the sound of a military bandit.

"Do you take this woman anywhere in particular?" the voice rang out. I panicked slowly and continued to exercise my discretion.
 
Interview

Question: How do you write your books?
Lennon: I put things down on sheets of paper and stuff them in me pockets. When I have enough, I have a book.
Question: Why do you kill people off in your books?
Lennon: That's a good way to end them. I suppose they were manifestations of hidden cruelties. They were very Alice in Wonderland and Winnie-the-Pooh. I was very hung up then. I got rid of a lot of that. It was my version of what was happening then. It was just the usual criticisms, as some critic put it.
Question: What were you really trying to say in your book? Why don't people understand it?
Lennon: I understand it. If I wrote in normal spelling there would be no point. I'm not saying anything. There is no message.

Happy Birthday Sheriff John!

Posted by Whitmore, October 2, 2009 05:57pm | Post a Comment

If you were a kid growing up here in Southern Californian and your family owned a television set in the 1950’s or 60’s, inevitably you watched Sheriff John's Lunch Brigade, which aired on KTTV-TV Channel 11 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, and a late afternoon show, Sheriff John's Cartoon Time. I spent many a day as a sickly child watching Sheriff John and cartoons like Crusader Rabbit, Tennessee Tuxedo (voiced by Get Smart’s Don Adams) and Underdog.
 
Today the host of those shows and one of the true originators and unsung pioneers in early kids television, John Rovick, is 90 years old. Born in Dayton, Ohio, October 2nd, 1919, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corp in the Second World War, trained as radio operator and gunner on a B25 Bomber -- he survived some 50 combat missions, even a mission when the plane had to ditch at night off the coast of Italy. He started as a staff announcer on KTTV when the station first went on the air in 1949. Starting in 1952 Rovick began portraying the Sheriff for Cartoon Time and in 1953 John Rovick won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.
 
Sheriff John started each show singing as he walked through the door of his Sheriff's office, "Come on now, laugh and be happy, and the world will laugh with you." He then said the Pledge of Allegiance, read a daily safety bulletin, and for good measure threw in some health tips for the youngsters.
 
But the highlight of the show was always the birthday celebration. Sheriff John would read dozens of kids' names, roll out a cake, and sing the classic kids song "The Birthday Cake Polka." For a certain age group, a telltale sign of a native Angelino is the ability to sing the song, word for word. In 1970 both shows were cancelled, but Rovick continued to work as an announcer for KTTV until his retirement in 1981. For decades he was also a favorite in the Hollywood’s Santa Claus Lane Christmas parade. After retirement he moved to Boise, Idaho where he still resides. In 1998 Sheriff John made one last special appearance on the Emmy’s, being introduced by longtime fan and Culver City native Michael Richards.
 
Happy birthday, Sheriff John! Now everybody sing along!
 
Put another candle on my birthday cake
We're gonna bake a birthday cake
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

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