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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blackie's Liquid Salad Bar

Where's Billie?
Said the cat

I'll show you
Where she's at
She's right here

Spoke chair #17
Who turned green
When the queen
(Chair #3)
Queued up to say
I've got an iso
Of Billie Holiday

Where's the Duke?
(Not of Wellington
But of Ellington)
Asked Blackie the Cat

I am where he's at
That was chair #1
Yes! The band
Was having fun

Sang a chair chorus
Front row: #16, 7, & 6
(And more)
#5 and #4

To keep your eyes alive
This is "chair" #5

The trumpet you see
Is with a man
Called "Dizzy"

Show the ivory hands
Let everbody see

Shouted chair #20
Blackie responds obligingly:

Unblock this poem
It's so willy-nilly
Denude the mystery
Of Gjon Mili

Each chair number corresponds to a photograph.
The photographs were taken by Gjon Mili at his studio during the early 1940's. Some of them would grace the pages of Life Magazine (October 11,1943). Most of them would remain invisible to the public (Gjon Mili's books notwithstanding).

All of the photographs were taken during late night "jam sessions" and are presently featured in a TIME/Life photographic essay entitled Giants at Play: LIFE With Jazz Legends

To describe Gjon Mili as a jazz photographer is like describing a Rolls Royce as a nice car. To better describe a "jam session," I will end this post with an excerpt from the 1943 Life article.

A jam session is an informal gathering of temperamentally congenial jazz musicians who play unrehearsed and unscored music for their own enjoyment. It usually takes place in the early morning hours after the participants have finished their regular evening’s work with large bands…. It represents the discarding of the shackles imposed by working with a band that plays You’ll Never Know and All or Nothing at All in the same unimaginative arrangements night after night. It represents the final freedom of musical expression.

Recently such a session took place in the New York studio of LIFE photographer Gjon Mili. From shortly before 9 p.m. until after 4 a.m. some of the most distinguished talents in jazz performed for an audience which, in the smoky sweaty barn of a studio, derived an alert, fascinated, almost frenzied enjoyment from what it heard.

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