Birdland, NYC June 30, 1950
Charlie Parker – alto, w/Fats Navarro (aka “Fat Girl”) – trumpet, Bud Powell – piano, Curly Russell – bass, Art Blakey – drums.
I see no one from the bandstand where I stand I see no one, a little to the side from me next to me but a ways off Fat Girl giggles silently, shows his famous smile to someone in the audience I do not bother to look at, deep Bud Powell sits astride a piano and waits to slaughter any key I call or do not call any key it is not really a wait because there is no expectation on his part, he is supreme supremely confident and wildly cool, cracks no smile, his eyes half closed do not even let on that he is here, he sits there like he is not here, who is on bass?, I sense Bu ready to blow, Bud starts without asking, without saying, we blow the head, god, Blakey drops bombs better than anybody, no not better than Max but better than anybody else, head time, I will give you something to play Fat Girl, play this play this play this play this and behind my solo play whatever you think.
Now. How do you, do I, does anyone take a sunset and make it more beautiful, beautiful than the beauty it is in both the now and in the eternity and in the medium of expressing this searched for more beauty that the artist seeks not through thought but through god.
Once you have witnessed a sunset’s beauty that beauty will be in you not just the memory but the beauty will be in you as long as you are you, the artist seeks through god.
Thought is being.
God is creating.
Are we men or gods? Can we be both or merely one or the other?
Artists are men who aspire to be god so they create work more beautiful than original beauty, more beautiful than the idea of beauty, more beautiful even than the ideal of beauty, more beautiful than a thought of beauty.
Things are ugly. Things are beautiful. Things are things. Ugly and beauty are not things. The most lasting beauty is that beauty that lasts only as long as it is beautiful and than submerges into the listener’s head, damn, Blakey plays beautiful music is the only art that dies the moment it is created and must be constantly created over and over in order to and over to live I need music I need music I music I create I music I music create I need create I need I I need music.
Records. Tapes. Are not music they are a representation of music, merely an approximation of what music sounds like when sounded. Limited approximations. Very limited. So limited that everytime you play them they sound exactly the same but music never is exactly the same not music every time it is created especially when it “sounds” the same, our stomachs have different contents even when we listen to records, on some days we play records and don’t even hear them on other days we play a record and hear things we never heard before even though we’ve listened to that record fifty, forty, a hundred, once before, in fact usually the first time we hear it we don’t hear anything but our reactions so busy reacting we are paying attention to our reactions that we don’t hear what is going on on the record imagine and that is only a reaction to a record so how can we really hear music? we can’t, we can watch it with a distant eye, see what it does to us too does to others observe the various parts or we can experience it, submit to it, be a slave to the rhythm become the music rather than the listener to the music rather than merely try listening to what we can’t all hear can’t hear all of anyway.
Or we men. We are men can be gods. What gods do is make men aware of godliness and make men aspire to godliness and create beauty and men aware of beauty if they are really men want to create beauty and show beauty to other men want to be gods too.
To help a person move from someone who is just here occupying space while the sun shines, moon moves, crickets and cars cry in the twilight with yellow beam eyes and warm houses flow and row on row of apartments with radioed music, move from just being, attaining no more consciousness than a rock or grass receiving a dog’s golden shower letting everything wash over us and not understanding who what when, why or where because the newspapers are words of men who want to be men and not men who want to be gods, beauty, gods helping persons move to gods ahhhhh.
Art. Art animates. Art is the breath of gods, moving, art moves us from witness to participate outside to inside creating pass passive recipient to active conspirator when we look at Picasso’s bull’s head without seeing the handle bars and the bike’s seat we have seen nothing but when we see both the handle bars & the seat as well as the bull’s head then we have seen everything for art tells us that it is possible for everything to be everything for the inanimate to become animate or rather for the inanimate to animate within us whatever potential we have to create, god is bull’s horn from man’s bike handles without man making bull without god making bike handles with both being beautiful, Stravinsky would dig this if he could hear, god, Blakey is beautiful for the blind to see for the unknown to become knowable to know what you did not know you knew for Monk to take three notes three notes three notes you have heard before and before and before and sound completely like something you don’t know not by changing the notes but by changing the way those notes are perceived that is what we mean by genius or how to make us see the extraordinary qualities of things, common things extraordinary in common like life how to make life extraordinary.
Now. Fat Girl. Let’s hear what you have to say…
—kalamu ya salaam