Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nice Little Piece of Jazz History

Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly could enjoy a respite from the cacophony of blowhards, in Day Two of the A.I.G. conflagration, that even, if he were still around, the legendary Red Adair would find it difficult to cap.

Quite a bit of fulminating, by far too many people that are in desperate need of a tailor.

Those on the Obama Team, and in Congress, have been caught with their pants down, and can't say "I'm shocked ... shocked to find gambling going on here ..." fast enough, or often enough, over the Always Incredibly Greedy bonuses.

Go out to Memeorandum for all of that.

We, here, offer you a wonderful oasis to get away from it all, found on Open Salon (to which, The Garlic, has staked out a little piece of turf, primarily, for cross-posting purposes).

Writer Rebecca Clay Haynes has penned "Dropping Bombs with Kenny Clarke", a nice little piece of Jazz history, on the legendary drummer.

Clarke had an incredible arc, of both pre-and-post Bebop, playing with all the cats and giants of the times, a majority of his career spent in Europe.

If you don't recognize the name, singularly, you may know him from the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, a monster group that was a bit under-the-radar, but, certainly, well critically-acclaimed (and they were as tight as Ellington or Basie).

A few snips from Haynes' "Dropping Bombs with Kenny Clarke";

When I taste madeleines, I remember sitting at the feet of the great jazz drummer, Kenny Clarke, in his modest living room in Montreuil-sous-Bois, while his wife, Daisy, plied us with those fluffy scallop shells.

As a starving young journalist, I'm sure I ate more than my fair share.


But the "most enjoyable moment of playing jazz for me was with Dizzy Gillespie," he said. He had known Dizzy since at least 1940 but he said that "the big band he brought to Paris was the most fantastic and stimulating band I had ever played with. It was so advanced, so new, so, ohhh."


Despite his own failing health at the time of our interview, Kenny was still teaching drumming at schools and conservatories in Paris and throughout Europe.

He also played "from time to time" at Le Dreher, a popular jazz venue on the Place Ch √Ętelet in the heart of Paris. I went to hear him perform in that cramped, smoky subterranean club, several winding sets of stairs down into the ground.
It's a good read, a small window, in a smaller time machine, of a piece of Jazz history.

Go check out "Dropping Bombs with Kenny Clarke"

And, here's a video, of the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, circa 1970

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