Sunday, June 19, 2011
Ornette Coleman was the subject of a JazzWax piece several days ago. Ornette's debut album, Something Else!!!, was reissued recently, and Marc Myers noted in passing that Cannonball Adderley's LP of approximately the same title (Somethin' Else, with Miles Davis guesting) had appeared at approximately the same time in 1958.
A whole scene popped immediately into my head, but when I tried to pass it on as a comment, Marc's recalcitrant server chewed it up and spit it out into space, or some sort of cloud of dissed-information. (Even the a.i.'s are critics these days!) I started to write it again, then realized--waste not, want not--that I should post it right here instead.
The encounter is imaginary and never happened... unless it did, of course. Some might think it should have.
* * * * *
Cannonball and Miles were playing a one-night gig in St. Louis, rehearsing some tunes for Adderley's upcoming album. Late in the evening, a slight, dark-skinned young man shuffled up to the bandstand carrying a small plastic saxophone and asked if he could sit in.
Cannon looked him up and down, saw new threads on a country boy, wrinkled like he'd just stepped down off the bus. The big man smiled. "That accent says Texas. And Blues maybe. Why, sure," checking Miles. "Ease on up here."
The trumpeter was remembering his first trip to the Apple, searching for Bird for days, finally sitting in... Miles just shrugged, called for "Autumn Leaves" in a slightly ascerbic key and, a few bars in, pointed at the newcomer: "Go."
Swirling leaves vanished, the song consumed by bleating goats, snakecharmers' pipes, staggering leaps and fits, plastic gold and deep African blues. Cannon listened to the kid's caterwauling for a few minutes, then stopped the tune. "Coal Man," he said, "you are somethin'."
"Somethin' else," rasped Miles. The two looked at each other. Adderley said, "Sounds like an album title to me."
Miles frowned at the plastic sax held in the young man's long fingers. "You got a lonely future right now. Get a real sax. Learn the changes." He half-turned, paused, laughing in that croaky way, "Better yet, find some Texas woman take you in."
Cannonball laughed then, too, and the dual leaders walked away.
The young saxophonist looked down at his odd sax and his scuffed shoes. He smiled just a bit and said nothing, keeping his own counsel as usual. He was already feeling the solitude... the aloneness... in his chest, and hearing some ornate harmolodic wails in his head.
He walked out of the club, straight to a nearby corner. Under a flickering streetlamp he began to blow. Cries and whispers...
He could almost see the sad lady, could almost see her face.