I love rock music. Raised on symphonic, classical and big band, my musical rebellion was fueled by rock. Like most of my generation, upon reaching my teens, I eschewed “serious” music for the sorcery of simpler composition; loud, amplified guitars, thumping percussion and howling vocals. I wallowed in rock as a consumer and as a wannabe performer, wetting my feet enough to learn that I still needed a “day” job.
I discovered jazz in college. Though far beyond my musical abilities, I had by then accumulated (like radiation), sufficient musical exposure over time to appreciate Jazz’s capacity for improvisation, expression, communication, technical prowess and passion.
I started my career in public radio and it granted early access to a vast collection of the very best music available in every genre over the history of recorded sound. My listening was continuous, repeated and prolonged. Music was and continues to be a primary source of joy, excitement and an ongoing distraction in my life. Once I discovered jazz, I was anxious to share it with others and lucky for me, in FM radio, I had as platform. Friends taught me Jazz and I shared what I learned as I learned it. It’s a facet of me that I find hard to shake. Good music fives me goose bumps.
I used to play a version of an oft-covered Duke Ellington standard by Clark Terry, “Just Squeeze Me” from what I recall as a double Columbia LP release that also featured )if memory serves,) Harry “Sweets” Edison. I long ago lost track of my copy. It may be buried in my collection. I’m certain to have copied it to cassette–it’s a version in which Clark Terry ‘hum-buzzes’ and scats along with an upright bass. The accompaniment is loose, lazy and lilting, full of texture and contrast. I always found it fun and uplifting. I’m sworn to track it down. When I do, I’ll post it. Until then, here are two Terry performances: one of “Just Squeeze Me,” the song I’ve loved from its first hearing but whose preferred rendition still eludes me and the other, “Mumbles,” a wonderful example of Clark’s unique scatting technique that so attracted me to the original all those years ago. These illustrate several of the innumerable reasons Jazz originally spoke to me and continues to enchant.