Pages 8-9 of Crescendo, November 1962, Vol.1, No.4. Page 8 is taken up by adverts, while page 9 features an amusing account of a band's performance in Mombasa, and New York Notes, a brief round-up of jazz news from New York City.
|Catalogue Reference Number|
|Creator||Tony Brown [ed], Frank Noble, Max Barker|
|Title or Caption||Mop-up in Mombasa. New York notes.|
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Mop-up in Mombasa
by Frank Noble
/'AUR drummer gets delusions of grandeur by the time he sinks his third pint. The band becomes something that everyone should hear. Just between you and me, it isnât. Slight exaggeration to call it a band, really. Thereâs just three of us. Me on clarinet, the pianist and the skin walloper.
I mentioned myself first deliberately. The others Iâm not quite sure about. About me, I know. My biggest virtue is a real old-fashioned, get-up-and-have-a-bash keenness. Iâm strictly a demi-semi-pro who does it for kicks.
Look at it this way: you couldnât stop me if you tried. Iâm not deterred by my ancient, Simple System clarinet, nor by the strictly limited nature of my repertoire. When I started playing, âSweet Sueâ was reckoned a jazz standard. To me, it still is.
Years ago, I gave up the notion of becoming a de Francoâbut that didnât put me off the game. Nor did going to sea. Iâve moved around a bit. Theyâve wept over my clarinet in Port Of Spain. Theyâve wailed about it in Singapore. Hardened sea-farers have cried in their beer, musicians have shuddered.
Iâve played in more seedy, sordid gaffes that most buskers dream of. Iâve learned, in the hard school of Experience, the truth about myself and the human race.
Our drummer doesnât really appreciate this. Wherever we dock, he downs his pint and goes rushing down the gangplank to tell every bar proprietor and hotel manager in sight that we have arrived.
More. In a positive fever of enthusiasm, he tells them that they need us. âItâs a Benny Goodman-type trio,â he urges. And if they arenât impressed, quickly adds: âWith a touch of Acker Bilk.â
Our drummer is so persistent, so eloquent that he usually gets his way. Directly he senses agreement, he releases his grip on the managerâs lapels. Perhaps that unfortunate regrets his acquiescence directly the drummerâs alcohol-laden breath ceases to intoxicate him.
Too late. Heâs agreed to a one-nighter.
Back comes the drummer, practically incoherent.
âWeâre on,â he babbles, peering closely to make certain who we are.
âHow much ?â we ask.
This irks him and he fumes and frets while we do rapid calculations to see how much the local currency adds up to in bottles of the right stuff.
So far as I am personally concerned, Iâd blow my head off for just one bottle.
It happened the last time we put in at Mombasa.
We grabbed a taxi and swept along under the elephant tusks that line the Kilindini Road toward the swank Oceana Hotel. The drummer seemed to be shaking slightly. I glowered at him.
âNo need to be nervous,â he roared. âAnd no drinking before we get on the stand.â
We drew up under the canopied entrance and African waiters in green tarbushes led us to the ballroom.
The pianist spotted the champagne buckets and sighed. âJust like the Monseigneur in the old days.â
The drummer almost burst into tears. He had two sets of sticks in his raincoat pocket. Heâd been sitting on them in the car. Two were broken.
I laughed with real pleasure. But underneath I wasnât laughing.
The drummer had given us the build-up. It was all right for him sitting, skulking behind his kit. I was up there exposed to the world.
When we got up on the stand, it created a bit of a stir. Foreign musicians. Europeans. Americans, perhaps. The eyes were upon me, the ears were pinned back. The silence was expectant.
âNow,â said the drummer, wretched exhibitionist that he is. âWhat about a modern version of âHow High The Moonâ ?â
âHow about âSweet Sueâ ?â I countered. Nobody heard me.
The pianist was trying to remember the key for âHow' High.â The manager had decided that his customers were in for a treat. He turned the spotlight on and it practically blinded me. The microphone raised its delicate ear to within four inches of my battered octave key.
â âMoonâ,â whispered the pianist hoarsely.
âOkay,â I said. âNo intro.â On occasions like this a thick hide is worth all the technique in the worldâwell, nearly.
And I belted out with my spirited, faded, oft-repeated version of âSweet Sueââin B flat, with all the pre-war trimmings. The pianist and drummer had no option. They followed me.
It was raucousâit was even comic if you donât take music too seriously. And it had the impact of the Unexpected.
It certainly wasnât Progressive, but it paid for a night out ashore.
And it brought the house down.
The odd thing is, it usually does.
New York Notes
by MAX BARKER
Artie Shaw, now in semi-retirement in Connecticut, made a rare public appearance on the new Tonight show in New York City on October 3 . . . Benny Goodman was the first jazz musician to appear at the new Philharmonic Hall in New Yorkâs Lincoln Center. He played a concert of both classical and jazz music including Beethovenâs Trio for Clarinet, Piano and Cello . . . Veteran trombonist George Brunis is currently appearing nightly at New? York Cityâs Roseland Ballroom with Ted Lewis and his orchestra . . . United Artist Records recorded the entire New York Town Hall concert of original compositions with a 27-piece orchestra including Zoot Sims, Clark Terry and Jimmy Cleveland and directed by Charlie Mingus on October 12 . . . The new Stan Kenton orchestra made a solo appearance in concert at New Yorkâs Towm Hall on October 23 . . . New Yorkâs Five Spot Club reopened October 10 on Third Avenue at Eighth Street opening attraction Sonny Rollins and Roland Kirk . . . Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd are enjoying tremendous popularity with their new Verve album âJazz Samba'â which contains the hit single now being played by most of the countryâs commercial disc jockeys, âDesafinado.â They have both been currently appearing at the Village Gate in New Yorkâs Greenwich Village . . .
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