• I usually sleep deeply and well, and so tend not to remember my dreams. On the rare occasions when I do recall them after waking, they’re almost always commonplace, nothing like the elaborate doozies that some of my friends regularly bring back from the Land of Nod. Every once in a while, though, I manage to eke out something interesting. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I dreamed that I sat in with Louis Armstrong (we played “Mack the Knife,” and the piano player was rushing). He was performing in the large, anonymous-looking waiting room of a hospital located on a hill, and when I awoke I realized with a start that it was Cape Girardeau’s Southeast Missouri Hospital, the place where I was born. Pretty good for an Armstrong biographer, huh?
Last night’s dream was similarly exotic, as well as similarly related to my childhood. I dreamed that the studio of Helen Frankenthaler (whose Grey Fireworks is part of the Teachout Museum) was located in the basement of my mother’s home in Smalltown, U.S.A., the house where I grew up. My mother, it seemed, had somehow neglected to share this fact with me–apparently she didn’t find it unusual enough to mention–and I only happened to discover it when I went downstairs during a visit and found a tall stack of unfinished canvases next to the water heater.
After I woke up, I realized that the woman who played Frankenthaler in my dream was Illeana Douglas, who had a nice little role in Ghost World but whom I haven’t seen on screen for a number of years. (That’s pretty good casting, actually.)
As usual, the part of the puzzled middle-aged dreamer was played by me.
• Max Roach is dead. He was a great and influential jazz drummer, one of the very best who ever lived, though I can’t say that he was one of my personal favorites–I always found his sound to be flat and grey. Still, he made far more than his share of memorable recordings, of which Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus, a 1956 album to which I return at least once a year, shows him off to particularly good effect. His solo on “Blue Seven” (which exists in notation in the second volume of Burt Korall’s Drummin’ Men) is a classic by any reckoning, mine included.
Mr. JazzWax pays a heartfelt and intelligent tribute to Roach here.