Did he really say that?

The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and think for ten minutes = GEORGE CARLIN...Stained glass, engraved glass, frosted glass–give me plain glass = JOHN FOWLES...Music is the mathematics of the gods = PYTHAGORAS...Nothing is more fluid than language = R.L.SWIHART

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Great Day At Dizzy's

He has the entire front row to himself. He is COUNT BASIE and today is his birthday. Unlike fellow jazz legends directly above him (Thelonius Monk & Lester Young), the Count is hatless but the reason why will be explained below. The reason for the post title: all these photographs were taken at DYZZY ON VINYL in Long Beach.

Therefore, you see surmounted security chains and creative spelling above. But Dizzy Gillespie is a primary interviewee in this stellar 1995 Academy Award nominated documentary.

A GREAT DAY IN HARLEM was based on a 1958 photograph commissioned by ESQUIRE MAGAZINE for a special issue dedicated to Jazz. Miles Davis was not in New York at the time but I mention him for describing Art Farmer (apex of the pyramid) as a "thinking man's trumpeter."

Art graduated Jefferson High School in 1946.
By clicking on the red ink in the previous paragraph, a perfect film poster enables you to identify everyone in the photograph except all but one of the boys seated on the curb. The link to A GREAT DAY IN HARLEM yields a treasure trove of information about all the men and women you see plus the unseen Robert Benton (director), Art Kane (photographer) and the invaluable Mona Hilton (see below).

Before the final group portrait was taken, these little rascals repeatedly removed Count Basie's hat from his head.
Mischief is payback when a photo shoot interrupts a morning stoop-ball game. Some of the boys may have lived in that building! But the one wearing white socks is also wearing a smile.

Taft Jordan Jr. became a jazz musician, just like his father who is pictured in the fourth row from the top. In the group portrait, the elder Taft Jordan has his right arm akimbo, like a landlord does when there is too much activity on the property. It is quite possible that the Jordans owned this now-legendary Harlem Brownstone.

If Dizzy Gillespie succeeded in getting Roy Eldridge to look away from the camera by sticking out his tongue, what did Monk say to get Mary Lou Williams to get the same result?
In pork-pie hat, Lester Young has his tongue buried in his cheek, distracting nobody. Between the chainlinks of this photograph...

...And between Thelonius & Lester is the most important jazz personage of the day: MILT HINTON. On this incredible day in Harlem, the much sought-after bassist (and author of two photography books) brought along his wife and his 8 mm movie camera. But what Mona Hinton filmed in 1958 was never seen until this Great Day in Documentary Film History premiered in 1995.
Aint that just like a woman?
But here is a non-rhetorical question: How do you get to Harlem?
And here is the simple answer: All you have to do is Take the A-Train.

Almost last but not least, I am extremely grateful to DYZZY for that great day in 2010 when he allowed me to take these photographs.

One year before Esquire Magazine's special JAZZ edition, there was a CBS television show dedicated to the same subject. Some clips from that show appear in GREAT DAY IN HARLEM, but to watch THE SOUND OF JAZZ CBS 1957, click here.

Another Harlem photo is posted in the 2-DIE-FOR PHOTO GALLERY.

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