By Gerald Majer
Afflicted city neighborhoods and jazz-club havens have been the backdrop of Gerald Majer's existence starting to be up in sixties and seventies Chicago. The Velvet front room, an unique hybrid of memoir, biography, and musical description, displays this heritage and pursues a sustained meditation on jazz besides a probing exploration of race and sophistication and the way they outlined the fabric and psychic divides of a urban. With the tool of a supple, lyrical prose type, Majer elaborates the book's topics via literary and highbrow forays as conscientiously developed and as passionately articulated as a jazz master's solo. in the course of the paintings, problems with id and tradition, paintings and politics in achieving an extraordinary immediacy, as does the song itself.In pictures of Jimmy Smith, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, solar Ra, and others, Gerald Majer conveys the drama and artistry in their tune in addition to the non-public hardships lots of them persisted. bright descriptions and telling ancient anecdotes discover the music's richness via numerous political, social, and philosophical contexts. The Velvet living room, named after the well-known Chicago membership, is usually one of many few works to contemplate the song of such avant-garde jazz musicians as Fred Anderson, Andrew Hill, and Roscoe Mitchell. In doing so, Majer builds a bridge from the traditionalist view of jazz to the realm of latest innovators, casts a brand new mild at the track and its makers, and strains connections among jazz artwork and postmodernist inspiration. current all through Majer's lively encounters with the worlds of jazz is Majer himself. We listen and enjoy the track via his person sensibilities and reports. Majer recounts becoming up in racially divided Chicago -- his journeys to the famed Maxwell road industry, his wanderings between its mythical jazz golf equipment, his using the El, and his operating in a jukebox manufacturing facility. We witness his awakening to the tune at a crossroads of the in detail own and the intellectually provocative. (10/27/05)
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Additional resources for The Velvet Lounge: On Late Chicago Jazz
He began playing professionally when he was ﬁfteen years old and was pretty much constantly traveling the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world for over forty years. Sonny—a way of marking the son, the junior, the heir. And Sonny— wasn’t he not only his father’s heir but also, as many in the music world said, the heir apparent to Charlie Parker? When he met Bird in 1949, the story goes, Parker told Sonny, four years younger: You sound like me. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Stitt played and recorded with Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie, and the other bebop masters.
Simple as the work was—probably for that very reason—the atmosphere under the hangarlike ceilings often thickened with a common boredom, disgust, and at times rage. The job demanded only two things: a consistent eye and a steady arm. I had to accurately position a small metal plate on the chassis of the jukebox and then fasten it securely with three self-setting sheetmetal screws driven in full force by means of an air-compression drill. The drill was branded with its maker’s name, Milwaukee, and with each screw it rattled and screeched like something from a nightmare dentist’s chair.
The album cover images from Roost, Prestige, and Chess might mark a decline: from Sonny the young black virtuoso with head rearing high to Sonny the bad motherfucker with sardonic gaze, and always the cigarette somewhere, smoke ﬂoating like strands of soul plasm. A low point might be the 1974 album Satan, on the cover a ﬁfty-year-old Stitt wearing a turtleneck, a leather vest, and a giant scarab ring (his hand appears oversized, too, the ﬁngers long and thick, bending with the cigarette in ambiguous code: Come hither or Don’t fuck with me), the smoke lifting away from his brow like wispy horns or hovering there like an inﬁltrating ghost.