ON BECOMING INSTANTLY COOL WITH THE PREZ & BIRD BIRTHDAY BROADCAST ON WKCR
Oh, we are blessed that recording devices existed in these ancient days when these two, Lester Young, a/k/a “Prez,” and the Yardbird himself, Charlie Parker, played and, even better, played together.
And we benefit greatly that WKCR is playing music so good, that I drove an extra eighth of a tank of gas just because I could not bear interrupting “The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever” (History’s words, not mine) recorded at Massey Hall in 1953. I get pretty bad mileage. I drove, windows unrolled, for all to hear. This music is the sound of history.
With such music accompanying, one is automatically, incontestably cool. Unbelievably cool. It’s quite a feeling on a hot August afternoon. And it’s a timeless cool, just so you know. There will never be a time in future history when someone doesn’t find this music utterly delightful.
We’re only halfway through the three-day broadcast dedicated to that space in recorded time we call 27-29 August, a High Holiday of the Jazz Calendar, which we must accord especial status, given that this is the period of time bookended by the births of Lester Young (1909) and Charlie Parker (1920).
This music is wound as tight as mechanically possible, valves and reeds and strings and pipes and skins interlocking with Swiss precision. And rocking. And swinging. It swings, Gate. Like a gate. It leaps alive across the air and snatches control of your feet.
It’s all online, or over the air, via incomparable WKCR FM 89.9 MHz, ably and didactically helmed by the voice of academic jazz himself, Doktor-Professor Phil Schaap, a sonorous, human encyclopedia of jazz, whose electron-precise memory is etched in wax, vinyl, wire recordings, metallic tape, LP, and all the digitalization that’s followed.
Schaap is the best deal in New York City: a graduate-level jazz history and criticism course guised as simply the greatest music, ever. Which it frigging is.
Which brings us back to the near-coincident birthdays of two of the ultra-titans of jazz. Let me ask you this? Why aren’t you listening to it right now?
Good. Now, listen to all the other greats showing up, too. Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Buck Clayton, Max Roach, young Miles Davis.
Thank the Muses and Dr Schaap and the staff of King’s College Radio for such a celebration.
Prez & Bird Live!