Thursday, July 06, 2006

Artist that a Old Head told me to check out: Joe Newman

Well, I finally broke down and decided to see what happened to Saxophone Willy. I just knew that I would receive some horrible news as soon as I entered the jazz club he performed at, like maybe no one had seen him in weeks, or possibly I would hear a haunting tale having to do with some city workers, scuba-divers, and Willy wearing cement shoes. Shit, I didn't know what to think as I entered that smoke filled club, so obviously I had to do a double take as I saw Saxophone Willy having his favorite alcoholic beverage at the bar. Have you ever sat besides somebody and just felt that you were unwelcomed like a motherfucker?? Well, that's how I felt when I started to shoot the shit with Willy, it took him a few minutes to even acknowledge my existence with his eyes, an offense by the way that would get most sons-of-bitches intimately acquainted with a beating. He spoke, but he was so brief with his words it seemed like every one of his sentences had a 7 word limit. As he walked away I could tell that he was walking with a serious limp, an injury that possible was the result in him owing someone 5 figures, then he turned around briefly and said "Hey kid, you want a name for that segment on your blog??" Before I answered I thought about the relief I felt that he was still alive, mixed with me feeling that his anger towards me was misdirected based on how unreasonable the nature of the loan he asked for was. So, as he stood there clutching his leg waiting for a response I said, "You know Willy, fuck you.. Invest in a kickstand, you wobbly old bastard!!"

Even though I knew I shouldn't had cursed the old fellow, especially since without him I felt that my "old head" segment would be coming to an end, but at the end of the day I felt it was justified since I let that geriatric fuck get away with far too much shit in the first place. I mean, I'm not saying that I would have knocked an old man out or anything, I'm not even condoning it, but since I once sucker punched a 65 year old man who didn't want to pay me a gambling debt he owed me and wanted to capitalize his unwillingness to do so while holding a switch blade, I don't particularly come off like Mother Theresa on that particular subject.

So, I decided to follow my dear mothers advice and make this profile on my great Uncle, Joe Newman. I don't remember ever meeting the man, and if I did I was probably in the middle of drooling and shitting myself, but what I do know by the music that he left behind is that he was a fine jazz musician. He was one of a selective few to spend a great deal of time playing with Count Basie's orchestras throughout the 40's and the 50's. Coming from a musical family in New Orleans(My moms mom and her immediate "peeps") he was influenced by Louis Armstrong, he was known as one of the most versatile trumpeters ever. He played with Lionel Hampton's big band(1941-43), worked with J.C Heard, shared solo space with Thad Jones, besides his many stints in Basie's orchestra. *In later years, Joe Newman fared well at the 1972 Newport in New York jam sessions, guested with the New York Jazz Repertory Company, toured with Benny Carter, and led sessions for Black & Blue and Concord. He also founded Jazz Interactions, a New York-based organization that educated children about jazz and promoted concerts.*

But because I'm probably a small minded dude who has all of his priorities in the wrong place, those laundry list of accomplishments isn't what particularly sticks out in my mind about my great uncle. What I remember, and what you can see for yourself by picking up "The autobiography of Malcolm X", is that my Uncle was one of the musicians Malcolm said he sold "reefer" to when he was a hustler in Harlem. I'm saying, how fucking cool is that?? Anyway, check out my myspace page for a sample of his works, or simply get your narrow ass to the myspace page I created in his honor.

*Scott Yanow, All Music Guide


Anonymous said...


Piscean Princess said...

Hate to hear that you have broken your ties w/ S.W., but glad this series could continue anyway. You inspired me to get more acquainted with Nina Simone - you gotta keep this up.