One from the ‘Trane…A Giant whose drive to communicate his feelings using the universal language is, (as far as I am aware), almost unparalleled. Technically there are other great musicians but something about John Coltrane feels unique. I am no Coltrane or Jazz scholar and his music only found me when I was searching for something that could define my deeply complex feelings about a deeply profound life experience, (musicology #6)
The piece that found me was from one of his masterpieces ‘A Love Supreme’ and since that day, (which inspired me beyond belief) his spirit sits among the pantheon of musicologists who I am honoured to call guide.
This cut, (recorded in 1960), was released in 1964 on an Atlantic album called Coltrane’s Sound and features the backbone of the quartet that took music somewhere new, pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, (along with bass player Steve Davis)
Hold this quote from Elvin Jones
“To me he was like an angel on earth. He struck me that deeply. If there’s any such thing as a perfect man, I think John Coltrane was one and I think that kind of perfection has to come from a greater force than is here on earth”
Today I would like to take the opportunity and quote from a top ranking piece of critique on the subject of Modernist by a Cat named Johnny Spencer who lived through as well as observed the changing face of London during the early Sixties.
“In London during the early sixties as in other parts of the British Isles a tiny minority of young, (mostly working class), boys and girls known only to themselves as ‘Modernists’ were walking, talking, dressing and dancing to a different song. These youngsters who were conceived in the heady and delirious optimism that marked the end of WW II had passed onto them in their genes a very real sense of supremecy, invincibility and confidence, a confidence that was fuelled and underpinned by the meta narrative of the western world, the concept of modernity, then at it’s zenith. By the early 1960’s the social fabric of cities in England had changed radically from the period before 1945, the war had dealt attitudes of authority and deference a mortal blow, conscription had ended, and the young en masse for the first time found themselves with a realistic disposable income. With history on their side this generation of independently minded teenagers felt able to think and act for themselves, not in a quasi-intellectual way as the ‘beatnicks’ had done, or to have to rebel, like the ‘Teddy Boys’, but as a truly autonomous entity.”
The musicology is courtesy of modernist icons ‘The Miracles’, (Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Ronald White and Claudette Rogers), whose unique and distinctive sound epitomised the emerging sound that became known as Soul. The cut that was BIG on the London scene was in fact the second version, (with strings), but in the essence of ‘Modernist’ I had to lay this, (regional) one, (without strings), on you. Recorded for and released in 1960 on Motown.
(Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – A Little Busy)
Apologies for the eleventh hour post yesterday..out grafting and got back late but had to throw one down to try and stay on track for what’s turning out to be the Hustler marathon..best part of a month will be taken up by this theme from the sounds of it but as the French are known to say Ces’t la vie or, (for all us Anglo Saxon speakers), in the words of Lord Creator ‘Such Is Life’, (watch and listen out for this cut…soon come).
Anyway enough of the interlude and on with the marat … story.
The trio are at the party and the two men are enjoying themselves, especially Eddie who is being admired by the ladies. Bert is slinking around like a snake in the grass waiting to pounce on Sarah who is back on the bottle in response to his and Eddie’s behaviour. As previously mentioned for Sarah alcohol is for numbing the pain, sound and fury of reality so all she can do is abstain totally or get hammered..no middle ground. Sarah notices Eddie in conversation with a female and as she is already drunk goes off in search of more medicine. Bert sees this as his time to pounce and makes what must be a sexual proposition. Sarah is disgusted and gives him the least that he deserves, a drink in the face and collapses in tears stopping the party. Eddie rushes over and asks what’s happening and Bert, (the low dog), lies and palms it off on Sarah being drunk.
Eddie, (the fool), takes his word for it and escorts her upstairs to lie down and sleep it off. It’s a painful scene to watch and has almost no dialogue so you’ll have to watch the film to see what I mean…
Today’s slice of the Hustler dialogue follows on with Eddie, Bert and Findlay retiring to the Billiard table to begin ‘the dance’… we are in to the meat and bones of the underlying tensions and, for me, true meaning of the film now and there are some harsh words said here which strip the characters bare as it builds up to the final countdown..
The music is courtesy of one of the most important figures in Be-bop. Drum legend, band leader and inspirational figure Art Blakey, featuring the ground breaking collective known as the Jazz Messengers, (Bobby Timmons, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan and Jymie Merritt)..wicked slice of Modernist Jazz from 1960 recorded for Blue Note.
Today’s dialogue is unique in that it’s the first piece that doesn’t feature Paul Newman. The trio have arrived in Kentucky and Eddie has sloped off to join some old pool hustling aquaintances he meets in the foyer of the hotel they are staying at. Bert has aquired two adjoining rooms, (much to Sarah’s disaproval), and the two of them are left to ‘stake their claim’ on the kid. Bert finishes the scene with menace, (the first time we have seen this side of him), leaving an impression that he is not as cool, calm and collected as he prentends to be………
The music today is quite simply one of the best slices known to man, woman, child or beast from the mouth and hands of the majestic Memphis Slim whose career stretched over many decades. Starting out playing ‘Jukes’ in the 1930’s and later in the decade hooked up with Big Bill Broonzy whom he backed on many sessions. He was also a major influence during the 1940’s in the development of what became known later as Rhythm & Blues but at the time was known as ‘Jump’….Have to cut it short here as I’m off to earn a crust and need to get my skates on !!!
After the emotional plea yesterday from Sarah, Eddie asks her to join him on the Kentucky trip. They meet up with Bert who tries to belittle her, (but doesnt succeed), and the three of them board the train…
The music today is from one of the great female Rhythm & Blues singers, Lavern Baker whose recording career begun 1n the late 1940’s but had some big hits in the 50’s with cuts like Tweedle Dee and Jim Dandy. This one from 1960 was recorded for and released on the Atlantic label.
Still a week to go for this theme such is the amount of quality dialogue..so wasting no time today’s section features our man ‘back in the saddle’ after having the casts removed. Not sure how long this period would have been…month or two? anyway, during this time there would have been no pool, no hustling, no sharks..just Eddie and Sarah. Back into the frame steps Bert who notices Eddie’s new ‘bridge’ but doesn’t make too much fuss about it…
Eddie, (after having time to think), accepts Bert’s previous offer to become his manager and the ‘action’ is about to begin again.
The music is another slice of Hammond organ but this time it’s courtesy of ‘Brother’ Jack McDuff with a cut from his 1960 album ‘Brother Jack’ released on the Prestige label.