Saturday, March 16, 2013
Time Travel Back To 20th Century, Anyone?
Now just where in the less-than-lamented 20th Century could be wonderful places to time-travel to? Hmmmmm. . . Let's start with this, Brooklyn's Fox Theatre in 1954 - and headliner Bo Diddley!
Indeed, how could a time-traveler go wrong with a rockin' set by the great guitarist/vocalist?
Or, for that matter, hearing unbelievably great jazz LIVE IN PERSON at NYC's legendary 52nd Street club The Three Deuces (expertly photographed here by William Gottlieb).
How about an excellent time-traveling evening, tripping the lights fantastic at the RKO Palace!
Or out to Vegas at Harrah's Club in 1958, where the headliners are Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams!
What if one could blast back to that very not good year 1939, NOT to the abject misery of war-torn Europe, but into the studio audience witnessing the filming of this Vitaphone Melody Master short, starring the always demure, shy, unenthusiastic and low-key Miss Betty Hutton!
How about going out to Miami Beach in 1950-1951 for some Florida sunshine, r&r and evenings at The Beachcomber, featuring, among others, that Puttin' On The Ritz guy, Mr. Harry Richman.
And. . . standup comedy by Myron Cohen, songs by the original "Red Hot Mama" herself, Miss Sophie Tucker.
Had enough? There's also a rip-roaring set of Nicholas Bros. style dancing by The Will Mastin Trio!
The star of the show-stopping Will Mastin Trio: musician-dancer-actor-impressionist and entertainment legend Sammy Davis, Jr.
Need laughs and a place for the kiddies to go while vacationing in The Sunshine State? There's this matinee show spotlighting The Three Stooges, The Bowery Boys, Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy and Robert Youngson's compilations of Mack Sennett and Hal Roach comedy classics - big screen fun for everyone.
While one can technically replicate this celluloid lineup via DVD in 2013, there is something about watching classic comedies with a capacity crowd (especially full of kids) rocking the house with belly laughs.
How about enjoying a night at the movies, 1932 style and actually having enough change in your pocket to afford a night out in the Great Depression? This bill includes an Ernst Lubitsch flick and The Mick! What I want to know is just what was the comedy short on the bill and when did Rouben Mamoulian's incomparable Love Me Tonight show here?
Go for that tuneful mid-1960's pop music in a big way? How about this San Francisco summer concert starring The Beach Boys (preceded by about 47 other bands)? And just how did the concert promoters forget to book The Turtles and The Young Rascals for this Summer Spectacular, anyway?
Like psychedelic era rock? Then here's a concert starring the Jimi Hendrix Experience, early prog rock innovators Soft Machine, the blues-drenched Electric Flag, and headbanging metal rockers Blue Cheer!
Enjoy such virtuoso guitar players as Jimi and The Electric Flag's Michael Bloomfield? Well, here's another concert, this one at the legendary Fillmore East on February 11, 1970.
Haven't seen a larger or original version of this photo, but there it is - Bill Graham and Co. somehow got all of these rockers onstage for a Grateful Dead-Allman Brothers-Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac jam session. There is a recording of this set featuring The Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Mickey Hart, Bill Kruetzmann) with special guest guitar-slingers Duane Allman, Peter Green and Danny Kirwan, plus keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Yup.
And then there's jazz, the evergreen that grows stronger and with deeper roots every year - and such super-swingin' concerts as this. While some of the 1940's Jazz At The Philharmonic lineups were even better - for example, the concert that included Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Illinois Jacquet playing "I Can't Get Started" or the 1944 one with guitar guru Les Paul and pianistic powerhouse Nat King Cole driving the band - this ensemble . . . is pretty darn special.
Tough to say, having not been there, whether the JATP concerts with Charlie Parker and Lester Young making magic onstage together or the evenings co-starring Coleman Hawkins and Stan Getz or trumpet kings Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie were the toppers. You just know all the sets were great!
In any case, this lineup that hit the stage at Stuttgart sounds pretty darn wonderful - and when it comes to vocals, Ella can't be beat!
And this amazing photo shows another stunning ensemble; for non jazz-fans, that would be Charlie Parker A.K.A. "Bird" and "Yardbird", Dexter Gordon (before his series of super albums for Blue Note and Prestige), and, very early in his music journey, Miles Davis. . . YOW!!! Were the 52nd Street music fans in 1945 lucky or what? One-two-count 'em THREE geniuses onstage together!
A certain Carnegie Hall audience in November 1952 got a treat as well. . .
We'll finish with these references to The Village Gate, where John Coltrane (in his Ascension era) performed with an octet and both redefined the sonic boom and set a new bar line for the physical/emotional/sonic/spiritual limits of woodwind players. Check out who's playing back-to-back engagements (1962?).
The Village Gate "coming events" list brings to mind the thought "how could we be so lucky as to have a Miles and a Trane living among us"?
Indeed, while there are countless 20th century places and scenarios that one would never, ever time-travel back to in a gazillion years, all of these great happenings and greater artist/entertainers are definitely not among them. Dear Extraterrestrials: check the aforementioned visionaries out - they're the best humanoids have to offer!