The Jazz Cat
I have known Mark since 3rd grade, and although he was not a jazz dude then, it did not take long for him to establish roots and start to develop. By the time we were in high school he was already a music aficionado. When our clique had jazz questions, he was our reliable reference. He was also a budding jazz bassist. Fortunately, his passion for broadcasting and production led him away from the actual playing of music. He is a great writer…
Anyway, because of his proactive efforts, we were able to regularly get into one of the premiere Chicago jazz clubs on a regular basis, even though we were only in high school. He managed to work a deal with the owner whereby we could get into the club, sit at a particular table, order soda and food from the waitress, and only move if we needed to go to the restroom from drinking all of that soda. Anything else and we were 86’d. We always behaved, and as a result I (and a few others) got to see live performances by the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Roy Ayers, George Duke, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Phoebe Snow, Ramsey Lewis, Art Porter, The Crusaders, McCoy Tyner, George Freeman and at least 30 more important artists of that day. Heck, I cannot remember all of the great acts we got to sit and watch thanks to Mark’s machinations and passion.
Another thing I need to bring up, he seems to be able to remember what is written on most of the record albums (that’s vinyl) that he has ever seen. I am mentioning that because I really can’t stand him for that… no… wait… I mentioned it because this book is well written and in the places where reality and history intersect it is always very accurate, because of his ‘eidecit musicologist’ memory.
The book? Read it and form your own opinion. I could tell you it was insightful and full of allegory and relevance to today’s troubled times, or I could tell you it was filled with the kind of insight only a jazz veteran like Mark could impart. Or I could just tell you that I am a critical-assed writer and English major and I still found it to be a great read when I sat down and read it from cover to cover. When he finally got to doing it, he really put it down!
But…don’t be a sheep and act like you care what I think. Read Bebop Fairy Tales and form your own opinion after you read it. I think it is excellent.
– Steve Watkins – Former editor of JazzUSA.com and current curator of the JazzUSA.com archive.