COLUMN 106, JUNE 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THE EGG CREAM EVENT
Dizzy Gillespie was there, talking about how you could
see sparks coming from the audience. Harold Conrad, the boxing promoter, was
there and Elia Kazan and George Plimpton's wife, Freddie, and Pete Hamill and
Igor, who runs the health food shop on Sixth Avenue, where Dave Amram goes down
to eat every day.
If you didn't see the sparks you could certainly feel the warmth. This was
an event for egg cream New York, for all the surviving West Villagers,
for the Dolce Vitalists down at Casey's and the storytellers from the
Lion's Head and the Monday night jazzmen at the Vanguard and all the other
people, little and big, who have cashed in on the charm and attention that Dave
Amram has spent his 40 years squandering.
An event? I once saw Dave try to walk down Broadway, to
the subway station. It took him in hour to got from 53rd Street to
52d,bumping into all the people he knew. What more exciting occasion could there
be for all those lost legions of closet David Amram freaks than the world
premiere of his Triple Concerto for Wind, Brass and Jazz Quintets and
Dave and his quartet played it at Philharmonic Hall yesterday afternoon
along with Leopold Stokowski's American Symphony Orchestra as sidemen. You know
the way Dave greets you with, "Hey, boobeleh!" This was Dave Amram
setting Dave Amram to music. When is someone going to record him?
Dave drew from much of his previous work for this
score, transfiguring all
Classic and even Middle Eastern influences into what ought to be called a Pop
Concerto rather than a Triple one.
Dave's jazz is pop jazz, but Dave is still a classical
composer and much too straightforward for any gimmickry or he would have been in
Hollywood years ago. The only reason Dave ever did movie scores was to finance
his serious work. Who takes classical composers seriously these
Jazzmen have wedded their groups to classical ensembles in the past, notably Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis, but Dave's Triple Concerto was commissioned as a symphonic work by the
to write the piece
Samuel Rubin Foundation and it was
presented in that format, right down to its title. As Dave says, "Classical
music and jazz aren't dead. What's
dead are the attitudes people used to have toward them."
After the concert you could hear him up in Philharmonic
Hall's Green Room telling well-wishers that he hadn't taken a drink in two and
a half months because he felt he was in training for this like a boxer for a
"It took me seven months to write the piece," he said.
He didn't finish it until last Tuesday. Rehearsals began Wednesday
The conductor was Japanese guest maestro Kazuyoshi Aklyama, who
led the orchestra with great economy and a welcome lack of choreography.
"He doesn't try to make conducting a big ego trip," Dave explained.
As for ego trips, Dave worked hard trying to avoid one of his own.
"In the parts I wrote for myself, I didn't try to make myself a big solo
vehicle," he said. His parts included the French horn, the piano, the
Pakistani flute and the dumbek, all of which are only a portion of Dave's
armory of instruments.
be an instant replay of the Triple Concerto at Philharmonic Hall tomorrow
the Green Room, Dave finished signing his autograph on a program banded to him
by a Fire Island friend with whom he goes fishing and
then invited me to a party at his apartment in the Village. Above his autograph
he drew a picture of a fish.
By the time I got to his third-floor
walkup, there was only
room for a couple of more
people. Roast beef stew and homemade bread were being served and a copy of New
Morning was on the turntable.
why younger people enjoy my music, I don't make it a "you know. . .,?? he
said, and he tossed his head. "All the colleges and schools I go to, the
kids respond to your attitude."
took some beef stew and talked about a youth concert he's going to do with the
Philadelphia Orchestra and a jazz concert he's going to do for ghetto kids in
the reception I've had with other composers like myself whose influence
isn't only Central European but music from the streets," he said,
"maybe they'll get an idea to incorporate the music symphonically. Mozart,
A colleague once told Dave he was climbing the ladder
to obscurity. Me, I've been after Dave for 10 years to do a pop symphony. I
asked him why he couldn't write Jim Webb, Bob Dylan, and Richie Havens 'symphonically."
"Because I only do my own stuff," he said. "I've stuck
to my guns.
out until the record companies and the orchestras become aware that there's a
place for my music. There are too many people who dig what I do to have to sell
out. If necessary, I'll go back to work in the Post Office.
"The one thing I want to say about rock that's beautiful is that it opens up everybody's ears and minds to music as a high spiritual calling. People now are tired of cars breaking down and cities breaking down and all things being sold breaking down. They want quality and they want quality in music, too. And people, when they go to concerts, know more than people think they do." ##
AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP
IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM", TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."
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