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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Newport 1958

Hep cats.

The Train and the River. Jimmy Guiffre Three.  Probably the last time anyone played a valve trombone in public. Probably.

The movie Jazz on a Summer’s Day documents the Newport Jazz festival in Newport Rhode Island in 1958. I like watching it to see people in an audience looking well turned out. Fast forward a decade and it’s all patchouli and B.O.

The fifties were supposedly a vast cultural wasteland. I don’t see it. There were challenging and interesting things happening in music, film, fashion, books, and every other stripe of intellectual folderol. People still tried to look and act like adults. I’d rather be plunked into that movie than Woodstock. Waking up in a mud puddle that’s only mosty mud while Sha Na Na performs isn’t my cup of tea. And I imagine the drugs were better in Newport, anyway. The gin and tonics most definitely were.

My older brother once mentioned to me that a trombone and a saxophone is the best horn section you can muster. Trumpet’s too, well, brassy. They sure sound wonderful together here.

9 Responses

  1. Thank you for that.. very cool on a hot day. (I used your amazon portal to order some homeschool books the other day.)

  2. My older brother once mentioned to me that a trombone and a saxophone is the best horn section you can muster. Trumpet's too, well, brassy. They sure sound wonderful together here.

    Holy Cow. I'm in love. And I'm crazy about your brother, too. What a fabulous sound. I've always loved the roundness of the cornet as opposed to the "here let me cut you some glass" sharp edges of the trumpet. But oh my heart. This combination is magic.

  3. Wow

    Bill Murray impersonated by a horn player.

    Howd de know?

    I'd kinda like to be transported back to '58, for jes a vit mbb.

  4. The 50s were THE decade. I graduated from college, took a masters, became a published microbiologist, got married and stayed married for the next 58 years, had first and second children (of six), chucked microbes and learned to fly, and made it to first officer before the decade ended. I accomplished almost all of my life goals in the '50s, with just a little help from the '60s to reach the top of the flying game.

  5. I think that's Bob Brookmeyer on the valve trombone, and I'm pretty sure he played it in public, shamelessly, for the next five decades.

    There are piles of great Jazz artists who made their mark in the '50s but may as well have never existed, so far as popular culture is concerned. Jimmy Giuffre is one of those. He played baritone sax in Woody Herman's post-war bands (one of the "four brothers" with Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn); he also played clarinet and tenor sax.

    He went on to form smaller groups like this, some of which produced some pretty Avant music, but never with the "epater le bourgeois" militancy expressed by many of the late '50s & '60s jazz artists.

    I think the '60s generation likes to pretend that the '50s were as repressive, conformist and dull as they maintain to excuse their reckless overeaching. They destroyed not just the bad things, but the good and great things from the prior generation.

  6. I do believe I was there. The Jazz Festival was a regular take-in for me in the late '50's, so although I have no precise memory of any one performance, I'm going to claim attendance and let the Alzheimer's crowd prove me wrong . . . if they can.

  7. The Fifties were the last water hole for thinking people. The joke was that young Fifties married couples who once would have depended on a family pastor, agreed on a trustworthy literary critic instead. Men wrote and read the vast majority of books, and novels were meant to change lives, sometimes, as well as entertain.
    Me, I'm trying to bring back the mid-century style "socially significant" novel. But it's a rockin' good read, too.

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