(John Coltrane – India)
Penultimate slice of the Hustler ‘alternative’ finds our man having finally reached the peak of his game. No alcohol or bravado..just one man and his craft. Have to give George C Scott a special mention for his contribution on this scene..full of menace and vitriol as he tries one more time to ‘boss’ the kid...
The cut is a second one from mind blowing virtuoso John Coltrane whose command of the language is out of this world. Again let me state that I’m not a big fan of the genre but more than once when the ‘Trane has spoke themusicologist listens. For me it’s like he’s reaching beyond the boundries of tonality to deliver authentic spirit and even though I’m trying, words can’t do the Cat justice.
Recorded for Impulse in 1961 at New York’s Village Vanguard..another live performance that I would ‘give me right arm’ to have been present at and ably supported by Eric Dolphy, Roy Haynes, Reggie Workman and Ahmed Abdul-Malik. What has it got to do with The Hustler and themusicologist? in a word..synchronicity.
(Dee Clark – Raindrops)
As yesterday’s slice of musicology pronounced…themusicologist is ‘A Little Busy’ at the moment so i’ll keep it brief. The dialogue today says it all. Eddie’s done his conkers and still hasn’t learnt any ‘character’, Bert still hasn’t learnt any compassion and Sarah, (who comes down to the arena unnoticed), learns that maybe Eddie is not the man of her ‘dreams’. Heart wrenching….
The music is courtesy of the majestic Delectus ‘Dee’ Clark whose voice is how I have always imagined an angels would sound. Yet another BIG mod/ernist dancehall classic, (and eary musicologist memory) from the dawn of a new era, (1961), and yet another on the Vee Jay label which between the years 1960 – 1962 did as much as any label to direct the new sound. Unfortunately that wasn’t backed up by artist renumeration and even though the record sold TWO million copies and hit #2 on the ‘Pop’ charts it signalled the end rather than the beginning for Dee who never scored another hit and ended up absolutely ‘pot-less’ in a Welfare motel in the 1980’s….Tragic.
But his memory lives on and the music he made is as good as it gets…So even though he is no longer with us…Dee this one’s in honour of you..
(Etta James & Harvey Fuqua – My Heart Cries)
Today’s dialogue is especially poignant in as much as it offers an insight into not only the two characters, (Eddie & Sarah), but also a fundamental difference in the sexes. Don’t forget that this is 1961 and the dawn of a new era in the dialogue between man and woman. Sarah makes it as clear as crystal how she feels about Eddie leaving no ambiguity and he, (in time honoured fashion), tries to sidestep the issue but she reiterates her feelings and lets him know in no uncertain terms what she wants to hear him say.
The music is a beautiful piece of Soul from two great singers both of whom have already featured on themusicologist, Etta James and, (her husband at the time), Harvey Fuqua with yet another slice of the Chess records pie, (as influential as any label in the development of what is now known as ‘Urban’ music). Recorded and released in, yep you guessed it, 1961 and featured on Etta’s fantastic album ‘At Last’. Arranged by musicologist Riley Hampton.
(Buddy Guy – First Time I Met The Blues)
After taking an old school battering as well as having his thumbs broken by the roughnecks who didn’t take kindly to his hustle Eddie turns up back at Sarahs apartment looking like he’s been ten rounds with Cassius Clay. She takes pity on the kid and wants to take care of him. Some women are funny that way…or is it just the mothering instinct? ..all the bravado and ‘front’ has gone and we catch a glimpse of the boy behind the man. If youve been there you know how it feels.
The music today is yet another slice of the Chess Blues pie but this time from guitar virtuoso George ‘Buddy’ Guy whose influence has spread far and wide touching almost every guitar player that followed; Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton have all cited Guy as a major inspiration, (especially Hendrix who was known to cancel concerts to go and hear Guy play). His stage antics are legendary which according to the man himself were inspired by, (at the age of 13), seeing Guitar Slim perform in 1949.
(John Coltrane – Spiritual)
Today’s dialogue features Eddie and Sarah almost at each other’s throats. As mentioned yesterday the way Eddie spat Charlie out has left it’s mark on Sarah who has hit the bottle again to try and numb the pain. Alcohol is a problem for Eddie too but not in the same way. For him it’s ‘fuel’ but for Sarah it’s ‘medicine’. I don’t get the impression that he thinks of his consumption as a problem, (the film portrays their reliance on alcohol completely differently), but is all too quick to conclude that for her it is. Anyway in this scene Sarah’s drunk, (it was he who got her back on the bottle at the end of the previous scene), Eddie isn’t and words are spoken, culminating in Eddie giving her a hard slap. Sarah comes back with a scathing response, (one of the best lines of dialogue in the film for me), and Fast Eddie leaves.
Todays’ cut is from a Cat, (with a capital C), whose musical prescence and command of the language is as good as it gets. Must admit that ‘Jazz’ from this period is not generally one of my musical passions but on more than one occasion the ‘Trane has blown my mind with his melodic originality and ability to communicate the message…..The piece also features Eric Dolphy, Reggie Workman, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones.
Garvin Bushell, Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Jimmy Garrison were on the session which was recorded in 1961, (live), at New York’s famed ‘Vanguard Village’ but I don’t know enough about the players or the instruments to discern whether they were involved on this particular Jam. (Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder for Impulse).
(The Coasters – Snake and The Bookworm)
Not even half way through the film yet so looks like themusicologist is in for the long haul. I promised myself after the 12AngryMen alternativesoundtrack that I would relax the rule of only throwing down music from the year the film was released but on reflection feel that the harmonies involved are too compelling so as a compromise for The Hustler I’m restricting the music to the year the film was released, (1961), and the year preceeding it…1960.
Today’s piece of dialogue features Eddie and Sarah after having spent the last few days together. Not sure whether our man has been hustling during this time but if he has there’s no mention of it. Maybe they have found what they have both been looking for…someone to share a life with? that’s the way I’m reading it anyway.
The music is a piece of ‘Rock and Roll’ from one of the great vocal groups The Coasters, (this line up features Carl Gardner, Billy Guy, Cornell Gunter, Will “Dub” Jones and Albert “Sonny” Forriest), whose star, along with Rock and Roll’s was beginning to fade. Soul was stepping up to take it’s place because Rock and Roll was considered to have corrupted the nation’s youth !! but music is too powerful to control and what seemed at the time to be a more soothing sound was beginning to capture the attention of ‘the new breed’ who would take it on and use it to communicate a more powerful, (and popular), message of freedom and equality.
(John Lee Hooker – I’ll Know Tonight)
Our man Eddie wakes up from his short sleep at the bus station, sticks his bag in a locker there and heads back into NYC trying to decide what to do next..he hits a local bar and there in a booth, alone in an empty bar is the girl whose magnetism drew him to her at the Station..He buys her a drink and finds out that ‘Sarah’ is a ‘boozer’. Something about this lady intrigues and ‘attracts’ him but he only knows the “fast and loose” hustle so that’s the way he plays it..she clocks his small town play and initially declines his offer but as we are to find out later, birds with broken wings are a perfect match especially if they can help each other to become whole again.
The musicology is a 1960 slice borrowed from the LP ‘Travellin’ on Calvin and Vivian Carter’s Vee Jay label from the Inimitable John Lee Hooker, (featuring Lefty Bates, Sylvester Hickman and Jimmy Turner),with his unique combination of Delta and City blues perfected whilst drifting up from his birthplace near Clarksdale Missisippi through Memphis and eventually settling in Detroit.