Thursday, March 20, 2014

the last book I ever read (Stanley Crouch's Kansas City Lightning, excerpt thirteen)

from Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch:

After a Halloween dance in 1936, Count Basie and his band left Kansas City on a series of jobs that would lead them, permanently, to New York. Their time as regulars in the sin-for-sale kingdom of Pendergast was over. It was a turning point for Charlie Parker: no longer could the young saxophonist listen to his idol on the bandstand at the Reno Club or in those relaxed but electric after-hours jam sessions, picking up a scrap of music here, a scrap of music there. He would never have the moment of direct communion that fellow saxophonist Frank Wess did a few years later in Washington, DC, when he and a buddy went to Young’s hotel to pay their respects—and were called up to his room, where the tenor saxophonist greeted them in his long underwear, hat atop hs head, cigarette case filled with reefers, and his horn out. As the young musicians sat rapt before him, Lester Young shared a lifetime’s worth of lessons: alternate fingerings, breathing techniques, advice on tone production, the great man a light-skinned oracle right before them.

No, none of that for young Charlie. His unrequited apprenticeship ended when Basie took Pres off to New York City. He would have to find another mentor.

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