Trad opened up more than three chords. It also equated to beer. So it was that we ended up at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival in 1961, when they had the riot. Me and my mates didn’t tear down any lighting scaffolds, but we gleefully watched it, until the police got too close and we scarpered. That music was a hooligan.
One evening back in 1968, my band-mate Graham and I were slumped in our shared pensione room in Milan, pretty well enhanced, listening to this:
When side one had finished, he turned to me and said “Why do they play like that?” Good question.
I can’t play jazz, never could, never will. There was a guitarist busking in Broad Street the other day who could, and I stood watching from a distance, trying yet again to decipher how those notes get from the head to the fingers. I can do them in the head, sometimes; but the fingers refuse to obey. It’s not a matter of technique, I can’t do it in the slowest of slow motion.
John Coltrane died in vain for a love supreme, said Big Youth on ‘Natty Cultural Dread’, and proceeded to explain why. I’d like to be able to pass that on, but I can’t, because he said it in jazz, which can’t be translated.
I once played a baritone sax. It was surprisingly easy, after I got the hang of the embouchure. I got at least five notes out of it, would’ve got more if we hadn’t had to go on stage: but it was the closest I’ve ever got to physical communion with an inanimate object. I might go out and buy one, actually.
The great trombonist J. J. Johnson said: “Jazz is restless.”