Correspondence: Broadbent And Monk

Following the Ornette Coleman birthday posting three items down, Alan Broadbent sent the following:

Now, this one’s absolutely true, I was there and it’s never made the books.
Monk’s quartet came to NZ on his “64 world tour and I and my friend Frank Gibson had good seats at Auckland’s beloved Town Hall to see him. After the concert I was elected to drive Larry Gales in my ’53 Ford Prefect to the Musician’s Union where we held a little party for the band. Well, would you believe it, there was Thelonious all by himself standing in a corner, keeping to himself. Mostly, I think, because everyone must have been afraid to approach him. I remember him wearing a turban and occasionally doing a little twirl, which must have been somewhat intimidating to everyone, not the least me. Frank started nudging me. “Go on, Alan, go ask him something.”

Being a lad of 17 and discovering all kinds of new things to listen to in jazz, even in 1964 New Zealand, I had been listening to Ornette and Charlie, trying to comprehend the new “free form” jazz. I had read the term in Down Beat, I believe.

Well, I made my way through the crowd toward his little corner of the world and looked up at what seemed to me a giant of a man in more ways than one. After gingerly introducing myself, I somehow managed to tell him I was listening to Ornette and asked him if he had an opinion about this new “free form” music.

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Thereupon he looked down at me and said in a low, quiet voice….

“Well…. first you said FREE….. then you said FORM.”

Whereupon I thanked him and melded back into the crowd.

On this CD, Broadbent plays Monk’s “‘Round Midnight.” I hoped to find video of him performing a Monk piece but had no luck. Instead, here he is with Charlie Haden’s Quartet West in a 1999 concert in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Haden, bass; Broadbent, piano; Ernie Watts, tenor saxophone; Larance Marable, drums. Bizarrely, the YouTube clip identifies the tune as “The Long Goodbye.” Maybe they’d had too many Heinekens. The piece is, in fact, Charlie Parker’s “Dexterity.”

Mr. Broadbent adds that rumors of Larance Marable’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Larance suffered a stroke a few years back, but, although he can’t speak and is infirm, his friends might like to get in touch with him at West Side Health Care where he is very much alive.

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  1. John Pickworth says

    Sorry to be so pedantic, but Alan’s date is out by a year.
    I too was at the concert, and it was definitely 1965.
    I had just moved to Auckland with my day job.
    By the end of 1965 Alan was on his way to Berklee after winning a scholarship there.