ROBERT R. CALDER
serapion at btinternet.com
Mon Jan 21 17:35:36 PST 2013
I remember an interview with Ben Webster long ago..
He was asked various potentially but not immensely controversial questions
Each time there was a sort of warm-up, followed by a reference to what Benny Carter said on the theme, or a more generalised topic germane to it...
I don't think Webster was avoiding the questions, just articulating the wisdom of the wise
Now one will find among writings of those who knew that Benny was regarded as and referred to in conversation by musicians as the King.
Benny Carter was Benny Carter, who and what he was needed no public nicknaming.
Even KING Oliver was presumably so named as a sales pitch.
Perhaps somebody could devise a spoof movie plot to the title KING OF JAZZ SINGERS
or revive some of the quotations from Clayton & Gammond's FOURTEEN MILES ON A CLEAR NIGHT
like G.H. CLUTSAM's reference to jazz as "hectic, unsatisfying fare"
As I recall Aldous Huxley delivered a diatribe against jazz on a basis of time spent in a dark hall watching an Al Jolson movie.
That was I think before his silly enthusiasm for complex chemicals.
What a pity Nat Cole didn't live to be a merry old soul playing piano
and of course he was named after a nursery rhyme --
only in an irony-free zone could KING OF JAZZ have been inflated to represent Paul Whiteman,
whose talents seem rather to have been of a power behind the throne sort
a crowdmaster advising musicians to be careful of letting audiences stop dancing
and avoid conduct which stopped the money coming in.
Avoid giving them too much that a majority haven't asked for ...
Fortunately some nice bits fashionable at the time slipped in on ancient 78s I played with as a child.
Thus I advanced from Arthur Schutt to James P. Johnson.
I have never heard among the ghastlier bits of Whiteman anything so gruesome as the Schmaltz of Harry James,
as on a cheap compilation CD which also had great work elsewhere by Willie Smith.
Not to be confused with Dick King-Smith,
who wrote BABE, about a piglet
And then there was a real King James
like a true jazzman intent on the proper translation of the Holy Word,
God bless us every one!
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