Friday, June 24, 2005
Friday, June 17, 2005
Many years ago, I was surprised to find there was a trumpeter named Lester Bowie [1941-1999]. Bowie is not a very common name and I wondered if we were related. (One of my other hobbies is genealogy. So far, I been able to trace my family back to James Bowie, free man of color [c. 1794-1832]. He lived in the same Louisiana parish as Col. James Bowie (of Alamo fame) and his family. There’s a good possibility that they were related since they had a lot of dealings together, it’s just a matter of finding and documenting the link. You can find my genealogy site here.)
In 1979, the Art Ensemble of Chicago played at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall. Their latest album, Nice Guys, had only been out a few months. (One of the things I like best about albums is they have room where people can actually sign. I have yet to get a CD autographed. Nice Guys went one better by including a poster inside the sleeve.)
I introduced myself to Lester backstage before the concert. One of the first things I wanted to know from him was how he pronounced his name. Like my family, he pronounced it Boo-wee (like the buoy that floats in the water and rhymes with Louie, etc.). Singer David Bowie [nee Jones!] has been the most responsible for the mispronunciation. Lester told me that he had gotten tired of correcting peoples’ mispronunciation and just let them say whatever they wanted. Not me!
Next we talked about a family connection. Although he grew up in St. Louis, he was born in Maryland and that’s where his family traces their roots. Since my originated in Louisiana, we didn’t think we were related. Nonetheless, he signed my poster "To Steve Bowie, A long lost cousin? Lester Bowie"
Thursday, June 09, 2005
"To Steve, With My Very Best, Mercer Ellington"
The UCLA Jazz Club put on several Duke Ellington tribute concerts at UCLA’s Royce Hall in the 80s. For the 1982 concert, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley presented the club with a proclamation declaring April 29th, 1982 Duke Ellington Day.
Shortly after the concert took place, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, led by Mercer Ellington [1919-1996] was playing a gig at Disneyland. I volunteered to present the proclamation to him since I was living in Orange County at the time (with the ulterior motive of adding to my autograph collection).
Security is tight at Disneyland, especially concerning access to the stuff behind the scenes. But it’s amazing how doors are opened when you’re carrying an official Los Angeles city document!
I given a backstage security pass and shown to the area where Mercer Ellington was relaxing after the concert. I presented the proclamation to him and although something like this was probably old hat for him, he was genuinely touched by it.
The album he signed for me is shown above. I’m a lefty and so was Mercer. Surprisingly, very few of the musicians I’ve gotten autographs from are left handed. Ornette Coleman and bassist Monty Budwig are about the only others I can think of off the top of my head. Intuitively, I always thought there would be a higher percentage in jazz than the general population, but I guess not….
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Page 1 of "Meeting on Termini's Corner"
If you get a chance, take a look at the February 2001 issue of DownBeat (Sonny Rollins is on the cover). Pages 86 & 87 feature my transcription and annotation of Rahsaan's "Meeting On Termini's Corner" from the "Domino" album. The blowing changes are based on "On Green Dolphin Street."
Since they didn't print the whole solo and what they did print is really tiny, I've included a complete copy above (for Bb instruments). For those of you who want a concert key version, let me know and I’ll send it to you.
I have a fair number of Rahsaan Roland Kirk solo transcribed (by me and another musician). We’re trying to get them published, but so far haven’t had any luck.