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Thursday, 19 April 2018

Rhythm & Reaction, The Age of Jazz in Britain

A wonderful exhibition at Two Temple Place. London
Finishes 22 April!

Three more from my own collection:

Echoes of Ellington, Washington DC

“To me, the people of London are the most civilized in the world. Their civilization is based on the recognition that all people are imperfect, and that allowances should be made and are made for their imperfections. I have never experienced quite such a sense of balance elsewhere.” Duke Ellington, Music is My Mistress, New York, 1973.  

I can almost hear the clink and tinkle
Of  Duke’s jazz piano
Taking shape on Ninth and R
At  Louis Thomas’ cabaret.
 reconstruct the place and spot,
The siren songs, the playful rags,
Sonny’s drums, the banjorine.

I can hear Duke and his sidemen swing
Invited to the White House now,
Performing for the President.
Not far on foot from that cabaret-site,
A long, long way from where he used to play
“What You Gonna Do When the Bed Breaks Down”.
A suitable song for the White House.

All hail Mrs Clinkscales !
Well done T Street 1212 !
Duke’s childhood home, but
Where’s the plaque ?
Well done 9th and R !
20th and R ! (and those between);
Sherman Avenue 2728 !

 I saw him in Bournemouth,
Where I went backstage.
(How do you find the English weather ?
- “Ah feel no pain”).
Again in Addis Ababa
Playing for Haile Selassie.
The Duke and the Emperor:

Two conquering lions
About to be tamed.
All hail His Imperial Majesty!
A Command Performance for Ras Tafari:
- We thank you, Duke.
I can almost hear their siren swan-song;
Now and then wilder growls from the jungle.


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