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May 5, 2008

TT: R&R from A to Z

I'd planned to tell you all about my recent trip to Santa Fe today, but the truth is that after flying back to New York by way of Albuquerque, Denver, and Newark, then seeing four new shows in a row, one of them in Brooklyn and two of them very serious, I'm just too damn tired. Besides, I've got to knock out three Wall Street Journal columns between now and Thursday, the first of which is due at noon today if not sooner. So...no posting.

What will I do instead? I'll start by writing Column No. 1, then go have lunch with a friend, after which I propose to spend the rest of the afternoon unwinding by listening to Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, which is (as Paul Desmond put it) the musical equivalent of getting your back scratched.

Join me if you like. Al is the one on the left:


I promise to file a full and detailed report on my recent operatic adventures as soon as I get myself pulled together again. Meanwhile, it might amuse you to know that some anonymous, exceedingly well-meaning soul has gone to the trouble of writing a Wikipedia entry on The Letter. Take a look!

If that's not enough to keep you busy while I recuperate, go here to read a 1965 interview with Al and Zoot. You might also enjoy this piece by Dave Frishberg, who played piano for them once upon a time:

Zoot and Al were majestic in the way they commanded their horns, and they played rings around that music. They were locked into each other's playing like no other two musicians I ever heard. During their solos they were really composing as they played--they couldn't help it. They were compulsive composers, and it would be totally out of character for either of them to play reflexive licks, or to quote from nursery rhymes or corny pop songs, or to trivialize their music in any way. Jazz critics can probably point to certain "influences" in Al's playing, or Zoot's--Lester Young is the obvious point of departure. But the fire and the swing, and the way they swarmed over the changes and discovered ever fresher and more lyrical ways to navigate them resembles nothing else that came before or followed after.

What he said.

UPDATE: You'll also find me here.

Posted May 5, 2008 12:00 AM

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