Music and Magic
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Om Music and Magic
This book, the result of a lifetime of listening and 30 plus years of research, focuses on the magic that is jazz, particularly the element of Tricksterism in the music. In some sense, anyone who is proficient at jazz has some element of Tricksterism, the ability to make something out of anything and to transform it in the process. The truly great musicians are Tricksters. I have concentrated on Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Dizzy Gillespie because these great musicians most displayed the genius and humor that the African Trickster is reputed to have. Each of these musicians took the material available to them, usually the pop songs of their day, and refashioned them into something better than they found. It is a kind of magic or alchemy. This sleight of hand is filled with surprises that cause physical reactions, often gasps, in their audiences. In a kind of reversal of expectations, the more the audience knows, the more it is surprised. I have listened to Louis Armstrong for about sixty years and, at least once in every performance, I am surprised. The more I listen to Armstrong, Parker or Gillespie, the more I am astounded by what they have done. I did not write about Sonny Rollins here, an oversight, but at 80 years-old-plus, Sonny amazes me at every performance I am lucky enough to see.These magician-Tricksters transform all they touch and turn even dross to gold. This book is a step toward understanding how they do it.