1060 Chapters
Medium 9780253007254

5 “We Were the Ones Who Composed the Songs”: The Promises and Pitfalls of Being a Bandsman, 1945–1970

Nathan Plageman Indiana University Press ePub

In 1950, a young Charles Kofi Mann left his hometown of Cape Coast for Takoradi, a rapidly growing city that served as the locus of the colony’s rail and harbor works. Like a number of young men before and after, he made the move in hopes of finding employment, earning money, and charting a future.1 Unfortunately, Mann’s arrival in Takoradi was marked not by opportunity, but by obstacles and hardship. Without friends or family to lean on, he spent his days searching for work and a place to live. After scouring the city center without much success, Mann descended on the harbor, where he secured a steady stream of odd jobs, found friends, and became immersed in his new urban environs. For the next year he loaded and unloaded cargo, cleaned ship decks, and assisted with various maintenance tasks on and off the docks. One day a British captain impressed with Mann’s work ethic and array of skills offered him a position aboard a ship bound for Nigeria. Convinced that he had finally found his lucky break, Mann eagerly accepted the offer and began a four-year stint at sea.

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Medium 9781770906730


Neil Peart ECW Press ePub

Balancing Rock


JULY 2013

SOME STORIES JUST WANT TO BEGIN where they end. Like songs, days, journeys, lifetimes, and even love affairs, everything is colored by how things turn out. If any of those stories ends badly, the rest of it probably won’t shine too brightly in memory. For example, if this pillar of basalt on the northwestern shore of Nova Scotia had responded to my little joke by falling on me, it wouldn’t be just a metaphor. It would be a variation on the classic definition of comedy and tragedy: if the rock falls on Michael, it’s comedy. If it falls on me, it’s tragedy.

The date was July 13, 2013, a day off before our second show in Halifax, the last one on the penultimate run of our Clockwork Angels tour. The formation is called Balancing Rock, and in retrospect, it has come to seem like a multifaceted symbol—both universal and personal. Everyone knows what it’s like to have days like these—when you’re standing in a hard place and pushing against an unyielding wall of stone. Also, for this reporter, nothing could be more representative of the dynamics of my life than “balancing rock.” Thirdly, the actual moment, as opposed to the symbol, echoes a time and place in a previous life that ended badly, and thus does not include any bright memories.

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Medium 9780253007476

3 Jazz Hysteria in the Hoosier State

Rick Kennedy Indiana University Press ePub


The success of Fred Wiggins in acquiring Chicago talent for Gennett Records led him back to his native Richmond, where Fred Gennett promoted him in 1924 to oversee the label’s day-to-day operations. The tall, outspoken Quaker with the squeaky voice and ever-present stogie cigar moved his wife and their nine-year-old son into a two-story bungalow at 522 Southwest A Street near Earlham College and across the Whitewater River from the Starr Piano factory.

Wiggins’s home was a half-mile walk from his office in the factory. He supervised about fifty people in the record division, including the sales team, office staff, disc production and packing workers, as well as recording engineer Ezra Wickemeyer and his engravers in the studio. Wiggins actively secured musicians of his choosing, and he often dictated which master discs from the local and New York studios would be pressed for public release.

The music scene in Indiana had changed during the years Wiggins spent in Chicago. He soon found that the seeds of jazz from the Windy City, spread in large part by the Gennett releases, were now firmly planted in his home state. In fact, young people in the Hoosier State had eagerly embraced jazz in the early 1920s, ahead of most of the Midwest. The colleges, particularly Indiana University in Bloomington, the dance halls, the roadhouses, and the summer resorts in the northern part of the state, such as Lake Wawasee and Hudson Lake, were now booking young dance bands modeled after the New Orleans–style bands. Indianapolis, the state capital, with one of the Midwest’s largest black populations outside of Chicago, was home base in the early 1920s to several professional black and white jazz bands.

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Medium 9780253011565

Chapter 1: Symbolic Meanings, Sonic Penance

Robert L. Kendrick Indiana University Press ePub

Chapter 1

Symbolic Meanings, Sonic Penance

In the ritual year of early modern Catholics, the days before Easter represented the longest single commemoration, collective and personal, of the central events of salvation. Despite the survival or re-invention of historical Holy Week traditions today, it is still hard to imagine how much prayer and penitence were packed into the seventy-odd hours between the afternoons of Wednesday and Saturday. The three central days—the Triduum—recalling the Passion included the chanted words, participatory rites, and sonic behavior of liturgical Maundy Thursday (“Feria V in Coena Domini,” hereafter F5), Good Friday (“Feria VI in Parasceve,” hereafter F6), and Holy Saturday (“Sabbato Sancto,” hereafter SS). Beyond the structures of the Divine Office and Mass, there were community actions: processions, “entombments of Christ,” depositions from the Cross, ceremonies of mourning and weeping, and, less appealingly, group violence. The social re-enactment of Christ’s atonement went hand in hand with individual purging of sin via penance and often Confession. This dialectic between the audible expression of mourning and the internalization of remorse was vital for the Week’s meaning.

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Medium 9781574415872

7 - Terry Gibbs and “The Tailor”

Chris Smith, John Mosca and John Riley University of North Texas Press ePub

Mel first met vibraphonist Terry Gibbs in 1948 while both men were living in New York City. Gibbs remembered his initial encounters with Mel:

Mel was with Tex Beneke, and he used to try to find me all the time because he loved Tiny Kahn's drumming. He knew that I grew up with Tiny, and had all of these things I could tell him about Tiny. So he would find me and we'd talk a little bit, but we never really got to know each other until I moved out to the West Coast.

When I moved out to the West Coast and wanted to start a band, that's when we got really tight. Mel was looking for a band to play with, and even though he had Bill Holman's rehearsal band and Med Flory's band, all they did was rehearse and my band ended up as a working band almost immediately.1

The two men first recorded together in September of 1957 on an album titled Jazz Band Ball—Second Set (Mode).2 It was during that session that Gibbs famously gave Mel his nickname, “The Tailor.” Gibbs recalled the exact reason:

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