What do Jack Kerouac, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Joseph Papp, Leonard Bernstein, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Tito Puente and Willie Nelson all have in common?
They’ve all hung out and spent quality time with David Amram.
As part of the Village Trip Arts Festival David led a walking tour through the West Village on September 26, 2021. The previous night he was on stage with Willie Nelson at 11 PM playing an encore at the Farm Aid concert in Hartford, CT.
He’ll be turning 91 this November 17, but clearly the calendar means nothing to him.
Walking down West 10th Street now home to multi-million dollar brownstones previously a row of art galleries. One of these ground floor apartments was the art gallery that hosted the first ever known jazz-poetry performance. Someone had to do it and the two who did it were David Amram and Jack Kerouac in the 1950s.
Another Amram/Kerouac production, the 1959 film “Pull My Daisy” based on Kerouac’s never finished play “The Beat Generation.” Larry David credits the film with providing the inspiration for his own “show about nothing” – Seinfeld. (Directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie.)
David has fans of all ages. Old and new friends came out for the tour.
Synchronicity: The corner restaurant across from where we ended the tour recently changed its name to “The Beatnic,” the term the news media coined to described the art-music-poetry-theater culture that thrived in the West Village in the 1950s.
Three years ago, we had the great pleasure to hook David up with a gig on opening night of the 2018 Havana Jazz Festival.
“Osage Stomp” and “Get with It” – Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys (1935)
Hezekiah Leroy Gordon “Stuff” Smith (1909-1967) – Toured Texas extensively in the ’20s
Ramblin’ – Ornette Coleman (Texas) with Charlie Haden (Missouri) and Don Cherry (Oklahoma) (1959)
As I mentioned in the interview, we were only going to be able to scratch the surface of Dave’s work on this call. One areas he’s done work in is exploring the musicality of animals. If they can recognize and make music, we may need to recalibrate how we view and treat them.
“Rain” – Elephant Orchestra. Instruments built and directed by Richard Lair and Dave Soldier in Lampang, Thailand (2006)
1. Moten’s Swing (1933) – (00:00)
2. Hittin’ the Bottle (1935) – (03:24)
3. Topsy (1937) – (06:24)
4. Good Morning Blues (1937) – (09:38)
5. Swinging the Blues (1938) – (12:26)
6. Countless Blues (1938) – (15:10)
7. Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (1938 – two takes) – (18:07)
8. Jumpin’ at the Woodside (1939) – (24:09)
9. In the Mood (1939) – (27:18)
Documentary about Eddie Durham by the Center for Texas Music History
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube
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Music credit: The Jazz on the Tube podcast theme song is “Mambo Inferno” performed by The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra conducted by Bobby Sanabria from the CD ¡Que Viva Harlem!
The Annual San Marcos Texas, Eddie Durham Tribute Sponsored by the Calaboose African American History Museum
The secret creative “spark plug” behind the success of the Blue Devils, Jimmy Lunceford, Lester Young, Freddie Green, Charlie Christian and Count Basie. Arranger of Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” too!
The entire wide-ranging, free-wheeling conversation – unedited – complete with numerous sidebars, including some genealogical information which despite Aurora’s surprise may actually have a degree of accuracy (to be continued.)