Correspondence: The Sporting Life & “Take Five”

Rifftides reader and Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker alerts us to an improbable happening in Chicago—a debate on an ESPN sports radio program over the authorship of “Take Five.” The story on drummer Ted Sirota’s website includes audio of the argument. From Sirota’s preamble:

I told him I was a jazz drummer and he put me right through! That’s the first time I’ve ever been treated better by saying I’m a jazz drummer! Usually they tell me to go away or go through the back door or the kitchen. Anyway, the whole thing was pretty funny. Check it out.

To listen to the rumble, click here. Sirota doesn’t identify the debating experts. Maybe one of our Chicago readers can.

Mark Stryker adds:

Not that those guys ever would, but they should have you on the show as Desmond’s biographer to talk about the song and related issues and ironies.

On a somewhat related note, there was a sports talk show here in Detroit for a while that used Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder” (original recording) as its theme song. I heard the host – well known as a huge Bruce Springsteen fan — refer to Lee Morgan and the song by name once, but I never heard anything like the extensive discussion about “Take Five” on the Chicago station. I always wanted to call the station here and ask if the folks knew that there were two Detroiters on that record – Barry Harris and Joe Henderson – or that Lee had been one of the great prodigies in jazz history and died under tragic circumstances, or that “The Sidewinder” had been used in a car commercial.

Jazz can show up in some pretty crazy, unexpected places — otherwise improbable films, TV shows, commercials, radio, literary references, etc. One that comes to mind is the use of Mingus’s “Haitian Fight Song” behind a love scene in “Jerry Maguire” (details at this web page).

Maybe others can give more examples …

Coda: Regarding “Jerry Maguire” — the Nanny in the film is played as a stereotypical jazz geek but he misidentifies the date of the Miles/Trane recording. Also, and I’m going from memory here, I think at the very end of the scene Tom Cruise reacts to the music (Mingus) by saying in a bewildered tone, “What is this music?” My initial read is that he’s actually breaking character but they decided to keep the line in the film.

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  1. Charlton Price says

    In my working years I learned from psychiatric colleagues that All Behavior Is Motivated. So what’s with this guy who can’t stand it that he’s totally wrong about who composed “Take Five”?

    The silver lining: Ted Sirota provided a bit of important information that may be news to some Chicago listeners to ESPN — who, alas, are probably more numerous than Chicago jazz radio listeners.

  2. Jim Williams says

    One of the voices is definitely Harry Teinowitz; I believe the other is John Jurkovic, an ex-NFLer who turned to broadcasting. Those two and Carmine DeFalco are the afternoon hosts on WMVP, ESPN 1000 from Chicago, the old WCFL.

    The show can become…shall we say…a bit boisterous and spirited. It used to be called the “Afternoon Saloon” until some people took the title literally.

    I listen to that station occasionally “down here” in Indianapolis on an actual receiver (with tubes, even) or over the internet.

    In reply to Mr. Price above…it’s most likely part of the act…more vaudevillian than freudian.

  3. says

    One of the funniest of all “jazz” appearances is the “out-of-time” placed cover of “Tutu” in the film The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) 😉 — The film itself is staged in 1958+ … :)

    I think it hardly can get “Further Out”.

  4. Mark Stryker says

    Re: Jazz in odd places. This just came to my attention: WordPress has named a new version of its blogging software for Sonny Stitt. Doubt this is a signficant cultural signifer for jazz but pretty damn cool anyway.