Tuesday, June 20, 2017


- the Jazz Loft, pt. 9, 1967 -
There was a period of time, one March 
and April, when for a while I got a
little involved, through all these guys,
with some Friday night and weekend work.
It was pretty cool, and a real different
experience for me, and I ate it up. Real.
A few different jazz-clubs, music bars,
and cabarets beckoned. I started moving
around a little, uptown stuff, with some
of these loft guys, twittering away some
time while they talked fast and constantly
seemed to be on edge and always practicing
or warming up. Just a form of playing.
Terpsichord and violins together made
the sound of an unusual jazz ensemble 
tapping those sounds on tipcloths and 
bottlecaps - it was almost as if, right then,
 at that time, there was 'time' being made 
- cool guys on platforms wearing tophats 
and blowing tight horns while their feet 
kept time and the bodies swayed and 
in the background a wild drummer 
interspersed their time and rhythm 
with his own time amidst a wild staccato 
beat broken only by moments piled 
upon moments and no words could 
suffice ever to break in through the 
haze of sound and the cacophonous 
ride of scale with music. Out front and 
lounging along the few tables and 
chairs nearby, were half-wasted people
with twisted faces looking up just to 
watch what was happening and maybe 
getting it maybe not but in either case 
present for the execution. so to speak.
And even though this was but a final 
rehearsal, they listened and the real 
playdate was a few nights off - a few late 
sets rolling way into the wee hours but 
everyone was already set. One time I was 
on the street while the trucks lumbered 
by - delivery guys and freight-loads 
coming and going - and it was a lame 
mid-afternoon day in a cold grey late 
winter climate and everyone seemed 
tired of the cold tired of coats and 
tired of just being but it was that time 
of year too when a person knows things 
are about to change and the body can 
sense the new light and absorb somehow 
the new temperature and movement of 
the very air so that any unsettled feelings 
of cold or weariness can be withstood 
merely by expectation and hope alone.
It was that time of year when the things 
to come -  you just knew  -  would be better 
than the present. I looked at the poster 
on the entrance-wall and realized I'd 
mis-read the word and that Terpsichord 
was the name of the ensemble playing
and dancing, and not really an instrument 
at all; but also (as Terpsicore) the name 
of the Greek muse of choral song and dance 
which didn't really fit but so what maybe 
I'd just missed it all. And some people 
out front were busying themselves with 
the back end of a big station wagon 
which was filled with bolts of carpet 
or something which they were throwing 
onto the pavement nearby as some 
Spanish guy kept taking them into the 
next building and this went on for a 
while as I watched. I wondered how 
and why all these people had come to be 
- just going about their tasks each day 
in such a wide-open world with all these 
closed routines - and it was as if I saw 
the very future stretched before me and
that I was knowing that at some point 
I too would have to come to terms with 
life in that respect - what to do with all 
these days and how to go about that 
vapid routine of living and as the things 
of time came by me over and over in 
repeated manners I sometimes thought 
to myself that 'anything' would have to 
be better than that - better than taking 
the place and the station amongt the 
haphazard rank-and-file I saw around 
me repeating their daily chores but I 
saw too that I had nothing, I had no 
more promise to go on then did the 
window-washer across the way or 
the Spanish guy hauling carpet and 
even though I was for now in the 
advantageous position of just 'being' 
without connection it wasn't going 
to last forever but a part of me didn't 
want to engage just didn't wish to 
come up to the cruising speed needed 
to mesh with what was around me and 
I realized then that THAT was the calling 
of art or music or at least the finesse 
of sensitivity which made creative types 
always outsiders. Yet, realizing and coming 
to grips with that brought me nothing but 
comfort and in my way I sensed that 
maybe a comfort level of such a personal 
dimension was - in reality - the entire 
purpose of life anyway but NOT in the 
self-indulgent way of merely doing
(or not) what one wanted, but, instead,  
in reaching the inner achievement or 
attainment of personal creativity -  
so as to make and weave the thread 
of one's life into a sensible form or at
least some resemblance of that to 
those who watched (and to whom 
I guess it mattered). Outside the 
studio doorway, on the third level 
of the building, was a sign which 
read, in a really nice type, 'Matador 
Productions - Management and Booking -
fine art and jazz ensembles' and, believe
 me, it sounded bigger than it was. In 
actuality it was merely a booking agent 
for 'talent' which in this sense meant 
jazz quartets of whatever merit which 
were booked around town at any 
of the various nightclubs and 
cabaret/restaurants that wanted 
to 'trade' on the Jazz name but were 
more than happy with second or third 
tier acts that no one really cared about.
These are just the sorts of things you
get used to when clawing your way up.
And this is what I had been listening to
 - another set by another small groups 
of guys heading out for their night's gig.
It was all run as usual by some chubby 
guy in a cheap suit and plenty of sweat 
and humidity, named Goldsmith or 
Goldberg or somebody like that - usually 
a failed perfume salesmen or a sixth-grade 
history teacher who'd chucked one career 
for another but got by in both cases by 
doing nothing and trading off the work 
of others. There were lots of these types of
guys, preying and not, and they'd sit around 
and throw promises like darts and wait to 
see if anything stuck, so that there were 
always people around dumb enough to 
believe all this crap and who figured 
they really were on the verge of stardom 
and discovery by playing maybe just 
two more weeks at Hanley's Chop House 
or Trolo's Bistro and Cabaret or the 
Big Fixx Club or whatever. I saw lots of
that, and this on night here wasn't all
that special except that for me it was a
eal change of scenery. The people were 
more prime, the girls and ladies more 
prime. I guessed it was, like they said,
'Money talks, nobody walks...' It was 
all the same and nothing ever mattered. 
These scroungy-type guys got their 30 
bucks a night and they stayed late,
probably three or four nights in a row,
dicking with the chicks or getting laid 
easy and then they waited for the next 
one to do it all again. Anther night,
another gig. Hopefully.  And Goldsmith 
or whomever it was always got the big 
take and always talked big and got the 
next schedule card to fill out all over again.
Aand - yeah, yeah it just went on. These 
were always cheap green offices with 
poorly painted green or ivory colored 
walls and extension cords and phone lines,
brought in on temporary hookups - all 
cheap and all tack,y just like Goldsmith 
or Goldfine or any of the rest. What I'd do 
was, for ten bucks a day or so, move things 
around, or pull wires from here to there,
or hammer together another pedestal 
box for some jazz-cat to stand on and 
limelight his solo. Once in a while I'd 
get to plunk away on a piano as some 
form of accompaniment to whatever I 
was hearing - no one cared, and no one 
stopped me either,  though I was never 
sent out with a job-crew or anything and
I never cared. But there was one time I 
was let out to fill a drummer's roll in a 
song or two in a sot of warm-up or
practice session, while the 'drummer' was
'out' doing whatever, and twenty minutes 
later he was back and I was done. That was 
at some east-side club out by the UN in 
the 50's somewhere, and yeah, it was fun
but I had no card nor license or nothing 
of that nature so it was on the sly anyway. 
And, yes, fame and stardom, like all the 
rest, that eluded me too  -  but I was able.
at least, to stay  steady and just dig
the chance given.

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