More Than You Know: Jan 05

During the interval on a recent gig, a customer approached me to enquire if we had a CD similar to the music we were playing that night, to which I suggested a Goff Dubber recording entitled “Clarinet Marmalade”. I told him the musicians playing that evening were the same ones playing on the CD. He took my advice and bought the CD. The following day the phone rang, it was he. “I’ve listened to the CD and I want to swop it for something else” he said. When I asked him why, he retorted “It’s nearly all clarinet”.
After purchasing one of my CDs at Sutton Jazz Club recently, a man took it to the “desk” where my wife Pat reigns supreme, and asked if he could get it signed. “If you go to the bar, you’ll find him there with the rest of the band” she told him. “But how will I know which one is him” he enquired. Pat divulged the essential information – “He looks similar to the picture on the front of the CD”.

I think the following is worth quoting in its entirety as it mirrors the confusion and ignorance which existed among writers and critics about “this new form of music”. It’s from an article entitled “The Jazz Path Of Degradation”, written in 1921 by a certain John R. McMahon. “Our Middle West is supposed to be a citadel of Americanism and righteousness. Yet a survey of its length and breadth shows that it is badly spotted with the moral smallpox known as jazz. Those moaning saxophones and the rest of the instruments with their broken jerky rhythm make a purely sensual appeal. They call out to the low and rowdy instinct. All of us dancing teachers know this to be a fact. We have seen the effect of jazz music on our youth. The American people will never be the same as they were before they learned the disgraceful art of the shimmy and toddle. It is likely that the birth rate will be affected. The next generation will show certain physical consequences. There will be more weaklings and fewer stalwarts. The crop of human weeds will increase. Instead of real men and women, we may reasonably expect an augmented stock of lounge lizards and second-quality vamps. Jazz dancing is a worse evil than the saloon and scarlet vice. Abolish jazz music. Abolish the fox trot, one step, toddle, tango or any form of dancing that permits the gentleman to walk directly in front of his partner. The road to hell is too often paved with jazz steps!”

The Promoter welcomed me on stage at a New Jersey theatre last year. He made reference to the fact that “as the English drive on the opposite side of the road to us, they have their piano’s made the other way round, that is the bass strings at the top of the keyboard, and the treble at the bottom”. During the intermission, a dozen or so people emerged from their seats, and were seen to be peering inside the Grand piano.

Neville Dickie