Friday, 30 March 2012

Metropole memories, 1956

Unfinished business.

Over a year ago I posted a memory of being a teenager without a draft card, standing outside the Metropole listening to Henry "Red" Allen with Coleman Hawkins, J.C. Higginbotham, Buster Bailey, Marty Napoleon, Cozy Cole, et al. That was before I was hip to Hipcast -- that is, before I knew how to post audio. Time to make the memory complete by adding music, recorded at the time with the same personnel.

The majesty of Red Allen is captured in this splendid 1958 portrait by Lee Tanner, which comprises one side of a postcard propped up on my desk, a constant source of inspiration.

Copyright 1958 by Lee Tanner

But my Metropole memories aren't primarily visual, mainly because you couldn't see much of anything from the sidewalk, aside from occasional glimpses of Red in profile on the bandstand.

So let's imagine the scene at the top of this post with a few minor changes. It's 1956. The marquee'd names are Red Allen and Coleman Hawkins. The cluster of freeloading listeners and tourists outside the open-doored club has been augmented by two high school seniors who just sat through a college basketball doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. One of them is checking his watch and suggesting it's time to walk down to Times Square and catch the Sea Beach Express home to Bay Ridge. The other, the one with the acne and the crazed look of an adolescent jazz nut, is saying, "Red just called Ain't She Sweet. Let's stay for one more!"

No comments:

Post a Comment