The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Art of the Gig #28

5 comments :

Laura Brown said...

What year is this from?

swac said...

From what I've read, this troupe was active until the 1930s, and looking at the modern, un-minstrelsy look of that jazz band photo at the bottom (it kind of reminds me of photos of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five), I'm going to guess this is from the mid-20s or thereabouts.

Jeffinprov said...

The jazz band photo at the bottom depicts Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds, which included a very young Coleman Hawkins. The photo dates to 1921.

swac said...

Great eye, Jeff. I'd say Coleman was young, he joined Smith's band when he was just out of high school. Always been a favourite of mine, one of the first artists I listened to when I started getting into jazz in junior high.

Wellwynder said...

Sorry, but Jeffinprov's ID is mistaken. The photo shows Ma Rainey and her Georgia Jazz Band in 1923. You can find many better prints of the photo around the web (by Googling Ma Rainey). Coleman Hawkins is not shown (because he was, as mentioned above, in Mamie Smith's band, not Rainey's), but the piano player is Georgia Tom Dorsey, later to make many records in partnership with Tampa Red, and later still to give it all up to compose gospel songs.