Friday, May 7, 2021

The Right Kind of Hate

I’ve been buried in Youtube looking for documentaries and music performances by various jazz and jazz-related artists. It seems to have slowed the bubbling of thought that makes it on to these pages most every day. And then it became the thought of the day! As follows:


Some years ago I was at an Orff retreat of music teachers and walked into the theater to join the nightly jam session. There was a young African-American man playing the drums and he sounded great! After a few numbers, I was talking with someone and when I turned around, he was playing the bass. Expertly. A few more numbers and he wandered over to the piano and started playing with great facility and technique. Now I was starting to get pissed off. It wasn’t fair for one person to have so much talent!


And then it got worse. He started playing flute and when I finally asked him to tell me what he actually studied in college, he said, “Marimba” and whipped out his cell-phone to show me a four-mallet virtuosic piece he performed. Then he turned to me and said, “But really my main thing is tap-dancing.” And to make it all the more maddening, he was also a great singer, a teacher of young children and a super-sweet nice guy. I hated him! In the best way. 


The young man is Aaron Williams and we have since shared workshops together, performed together and generally kept in touch. So when I started looking for clips of Sammy Davis Jr., it struck me like a thunderbolt— he's Aaron's musical ancestor!  For Sammy was gifted with more talent than any one person rightfully should have. He could— and did— sing, act, dance and play multiple instruments (drumset, piano, trombone, vibraphone, in the clips listed below). He also was a black Jew with Cuban ancestry and partially disabled having lost his eye in a car accident. He must have kept sneaking back in the line over and over again when the gods handed out both talent and obstacles to overcome. 


So treat yourself—and share with your kids, friends and neighbors—to these remarkable short clips below. And keep your eye out for Aaron Williams.


Singing styles and impersonation::

Playing Drums and Piano:

Sing, scat, trombone, drums and play vibraphone)

Tap Dance:


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