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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

They Don't Make Jazz Like They Used To - Jon Hendricks - A Master Entertainer

Years ago I was given a CD by my Uncle Michael. He wasn't really my Uncle, it's just that in my family, anyone who was close to my father was called Uncle. Don't worry, I don't come from any Godfather like family, just one that was reasonably tight knit when we were kids. So, this Uncle Michael, he took a liking to me over my brothers. Perhaps he could spot my taste early on. Taking me under his wing he taught me a few things. He taught me to fly fish. He taught me about girls, most of which I cannot write about on this blog, and finally, he taught me about jazz. The latter has left on me the longest lasting impression.

Years later Uncle Michael died of cancer. I remember seeing him at the hospital and I remember him asking me to help raise himself up in the bed, and lifting him was like lifting a sack of potatoes. It was a very foreign feeling being that close to death. Two weeks later at his funeral a trumpeter played 'When The Saints Go Marching In' in a very slow melancholic cadence. It was the first time I cried at a funeral.

It wasn't for a number of years that I truly appreciated his role in my upbringing. In fact, it was when I couldn't find a Wynton Marsalis song in my car, a song called Multi-Colored Blue that I recalled meeting him at the Opera House in Sydney so he could take me to the concert of Wynton Marsalis and his band. I was a little restless shit and I didn't want to stick around after the concert and when he began talking about the battle of Thermopylae I too busy texting my friends and feigning how tired I was... Ah well, life lessons often come after the event, not before....

Tonight a big smile was brought across my face. Because beyond all the sadness of his death, I glimpsed all the cheeky excitement he held in his eyes when he was living and two jazz songs reminded me of that period and I thought I would post them below. Jon Hendricks - Watermelon Man & Wynton Marsalis - When The Saints Go Marching In.

The inimitable Jon Hendricks, now 92 years old, Time Magazine referred to him as 'The James Joyce Of Jive' 

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