Cause and effect may be a natural law; although I will admit before you, Dear Reader: It is often an elusive mystery to me. Nevertheless, I keep thinking; (it aint illegal, yet.) As New Orleans' September song echos transitions of climate and weather, we can now gaze upon the beginning of the end of Summer 2009. With the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the 8th anniversary of the attacks on the the World Trade Center and Pentagon now also history, I will conduct these postings into another territory of Danny Barker's unique insights into the Jazz life.

For the next several weeks we will examine just how it came to be that Danny's life led him, on March 15th, 1977, to make a bold statement to the Xavier students such as this: “You could be in your office building, doing your job... doing your work and, get blasted.”

Blasted.wav

“And you hear... in this music.”

Mr. Barker's swing is deep and devastating throughout this one particular lecture and I intend to present most of the material edited and contextualized for you. In subsequent weeks, we will follow Danny's thought patterns on the relationship of: Islam and African-Americans, and Be-bop (or Modern music,) and Jazz musical innovation i.e. “a revolution in music” vs. preservation of a cultural heritage, and... armed revolutionary conflict.

As presented by Mr. Barker, our delight will be a special helping of the thing most needed, Jazz music.

Music.wav

“They...” the first of which – Dizzy Gillespie, whom you will hear by going to my Main Page.

Peace & Pops,
Esquizito
Maison Musique, New Orleans
esquizito.com
PLEASE SUPPORT BY SHARING THIS INFORMATION, AND BY PURCHASING MY MUSIC.
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Comment by Esquizito on September 15, 2009 at 11:48am
~+~

P.s. The Epiphone archtop was in the archive room.
Comment by Esquizito on September 15, 2009 at 11:40am
~+~

Speaking of cause and effect... I have been asked: How did I end up with these tapes? True, they were all made by Mr. Danny Barker himself while he was teaching a course at Xavier University (Afro-American Music.) He apparently brought his own cassette recorder to class, purchasing tapes - "THREE PACK SPECIAL - $4.99" and operated the machine with varying efficiency, and uniquely annotating the tapes with and without actual dates.

Danny had intentions to turn the lectures into a book, or "a course of study in Jazz" as he says on a couple of different occasions when questioned by students as to why he records each class. It is also apparent that he listened to each, if not some, of the tapes at least once, and assessed for himself the job that he was doing.

Nevertheless, the tapes remained untouched in his archives for the thirty years that followed, which included a period of serious illness that resulted in his death on March 13th, 1994. The tapes came into my possession, directly from Danny and Louise Barkers' daughter, Sylvia, in the summer of 2005.

I can't exactly remember when; as many events of my life of that summer were, from my memory, washed away. However, it was shortly before the time when Sylvia was to return to her home in Rochester, New York. At that time, Sylvia was in the routine of spending the winter/spring in New Orleans in her parents last home at 1277 Sere Street, in the Gentilly neighborhood.

I will leave the story of how I first met Sylvia for another time, as Sylvia is quite 'a story' herself. Still, I feel honored to know that she has counted me among her NOLA friends, and that she has entrusted me with a significant part of Danny's legacy.

Again, while I can't recall the date, I do remember a sunny, breezy summer's day when I decided to pedal power myself up to the house for a farewell visit. I can see her sitting on the couch in the 'front room' (much of the house was the same as when her parents lived.) I had previously... and repeatedly offered my assistance for the great task of cataloging Danny's vast archives, which were in varying degrees of organization - shelves of file boxes along with Lawn & Leaf bags of clippings, and miscellaneous papers that would accumulate on the kitchen table until Lu chided him to, "get that mess off my table!" (Danny would go thru the Obituary section of the Times-Picayune looking for persons who were listed with their nicknames, i.e. "Pookie" or, "Toots" or, "Sweet Daddy" etc.)

I was also aware that one of Danny's guitars, his vintage Epiphone archtop was unaccounted for and, I presumed in the archive room. I suggested to Sylvia that regardless of what she decided to do with the instrument, it was worth a considerable amount of money and should probably be kept in a better climate controlled environment than an un-cooled, locked-for-the-summer New Orleans house. Of course I wanted to hold it... play it and generally be One With It.

Sylvia had concerns that the archive room, with old books... and plastic bags of... history would present a mold health issue. This thought pattern occurring well before the house was engulfed in several feet of flood water. Nevertheless, on this particular visit, I again implored her that I would take the lead, and the necessary precautions whenever she was ready. Sylvia responded: "OK... the next time I visit, we'll go thru that room." She turned her head, pointed to the floor in the hallway and continued, "But there's this box of tapes that my father made when he was teaching at Xavier." I was struck by this revelation, "When did Danny teach at Xavier?" She answered, "In the 70's; he was teaching a class in Jazz history." Looking in the file box of maybe... sixty-seventy, 30 year-old cassettes along with a few open-reels, I was characteristically incredulous, "You've got to let me take these tapes and have them archived digitally!"

Needless to say, I was eager to hear them as well. Not so eager that I pop one in soon as I got home as I was well aware that these aged 'Compact Cassettes' needed to be handled with care. Admittedly, they sat in my home for several weeks unattended to until the Sunday morning of August 28th, 2005.

Let me briefly explain. During that time, I had decided to stay and "ride out" Hurricane Katrina, having worked a gig that Saturday night and went to bed with a little bit of "grocery money" that would pay for several days of basic provisions. Then, something happened that Sunday morning; the predictions of storm surges at 20 feet gave me the jolt necessary. (I knew that, at best the levees were only stated for 20 feet, some lower.) Fortunately, some musician friends with vehicles experienced the same, or similar, jolt. I evacuated with them.

It took about 45 minutes, as I recall, to: pack a little bag, decide to take the guitar that I was still paying on, get my beloved Rottweiler, Dorian together with his food and Pet Porter, and... take all of my "irreplaceable data" upstairs and cover all of it with plastic sheets. Mr. Barker's tapes were the most important pieces of this nominal effort.

Four years ago today, had the tapes not been in my home, they would have still been submerged in funky, murky water.

An elusive mystery... that I am chasing!

Peace,
E.

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