Friday, November 5, 2010

BLOWING LIKE MILES

Trumpeter Eddie Henderson
Be bop, Cory the barber’s 12-year-old daughter stormed pass KB's work station carrying her book bag. She slammed and locked the restroom door. A minute or so later, Cory walked into the shop. Cory wore a Levi denim jacket, a Detroit Tiger’s baseball cap turned backward, and a new pair of Timberland work boots. He hung the jacket on the coat rack next to the shoeshine booth. Cory knocked on the restroom door. He told Be bop she could forget going record shopping at Melodies and Memories Saturday. Cory was hot. He ignored me and KB who was trimming up my hair. Whenever Cory is upset, he cools down by playing Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue”. He couldn’t find it, so instead he played “For All We Know”, the new album by trumpeter Eddie Henderson. When I arrived at 100% Barbershop for my bi-weekly cut, KB was the only barber there. Cory usually opens the shop. KB explained Cory received a call from Be bop’s school. Mrs. Cotton, the school’s principal, suspended Be bop because she got in an altercation with a fellow student. Be bop threaten to beat up a classmate because the classmate said James Carter, Be bop’s favorite jazz musician, was overrated. Cory believes Be bop inherited her bad temper from her mom.

Eddie Henderson version of Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz played throughout the shop. Cory flopped down in the shoeshine booth chair.
“That girl is becoming more and more like her mother everyday. Those kids at that school are too smart for their own good. Be bop got into an argument about James Carter.”
“She loves James as much as she loves you," I said.
“You got that right”.
“Is thatMiles Davis”?
“No. That’s Eddie Henderson”.
“He still sounds like Miles”.
“Miles influenced him.”
“You would think as long as Eddie has been on the scene he’d have his own voice by now.”
“He’s carrying on a tradition of lyrical trumpeting. In my book, there’s nothing wrong with sounding like Miles,” Cory said.
“That’s a hip arrangement of ‘Jitterbug Waltz.”
“Do you think it’s better than Eric Dolphy’s version on Music Matador?
“The arrangement is hipper. Eddie’s opening passage is deceptive.”
“How so”?
“He makes it seem like he’s going to play a ballad,” I said.
“I thought the same thing when I first heard it.
Like Miles Davis, Eddie treats every note like precious pieces of art.”
“He puts a lot of distance between notes, too.”
“Yeah, he gives John Scofield and Doug Weiss plenty space to do their thing improvisationally speaking. I like the fact that Eddie left the piano player at home, and replaced him with a guitarist.”
“You can’t go wrong with Scofield.”
KB saw Be bop slide a sheet of paper under the restroom door. He turned off his clippers, walked over to the restroom and picked up the note. Then he read it, giggled, and he gave it to Cory. He read the note aloud.

“Mr. Stubblefield, you are hypocritical. It isn’t fair that you put me on punishment for standing up for my favorite jazz musician. I know I could have handled the situation with Raquel a little better. But I hate her. She is so stupid and fake. I knew you’re embarrassed when principal Cotton told you about the argument I had with that ugly cow. I guess you are right. I inherited mama’s bad temper. Dad I have witnessed you lose your cool on many occasions. What about the time when you loan Uncle Billy the “Booker Ervin and Brass” album and he returned it all scratched up. You called him every bad name under the sun and refused to speak to him for months although he’s your only brother. You behaved just as foolishly and as childishly as I did today, but you didn’t see fit to punish yourself like you punished me for giving Raquel a piece of my mind. In fact, the next day, you went to hear Kurt Elling at the Music Hall. Daddy, will you please reconsider by punishment. I haven’t been to Melodies and Memories in a long time. I was looking forward to hanging out with you Saturday. I‘m sorry that I threaten to beat up Raquel. Honestly, it’s partly your fault because you turned me on to James Carter’s music in the first place. If necessary I will-although reluctantly-apologize to Principal Cotton and horse face Raquel.
Sincerely,
your loving daughter who has been a straight A student since pre-school

After Cory read Be bop’s note, KB and I laughed. Whenever Be bop is mad at her dad she refers to him as Mr. Stubblefield.
“Be bop is a piece of work,” KB says turning on the clippers.
I heard the restroom door click. Be bop emerged. It was obvious she had been brooding. Her eyes were red. She finally spoke to me and KB, and she hugged her dad. Cory had cooled down. She told her dad she was hungry. He fished some money out his pocket. He told her to go next door to Jet’s Pizza. She asked if we wanted anything.
“As a rule, I hate when there’s no piano player, but Eddie makes it work,” I said.
“Billy Drummond sounds amazing, too,” Cory says. His solo on “Be Cool” was tasteful.”
“That’s a good way to describe his overall style”.
“Eddie can play the shit out of a ballad. Listen to his phrasing”.
When Cory made that statement, Henderson was soloing on “For All We Know”. Scofield followed, soloing softly like snow melting on cotton.
“Miles played ballads beautifully.”
“Better than any other trumpeter I can think of.”
“I won’t argue with that,” Cory said.
“You have to let me borrow this album”.
Before Cory answered Big George, one of Cory’s regulars, walked in. Be bop was behind Big George, carrying a small Jet’s Pizza box. Cory motioned Big George to sit in his barber’s chair. KB handed me a mirror so I could inspect my haircut.
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