Valentine’s Day with Bud Powell

Bud Powell
Broadcast Performances 1953, vol. 1
1973, ESP-Disk

Even at my advanced age, I still feel that someday I will be into jazz. Someday I’ll be a guy who references Miles Davis and knows what the fuck he’s talking about. Someday I’ll have strong opinions on alto saxophone players. Someday I’ll put on a jazz record and follow the notes like each one is a hundred dollar bill blowing away in the wind. Someday I’ll hear the pain and beauty and love in these sounds that dart through the air faster than summer wasps. Someday it’s all gonna hit me.

Until then, I just “like” jazz. I like it when it twinkles in the background. I’m your regular dilletante, a total bird-brain and a complete fuckface. I enjoy jazz, but I’m not conversant in it. I’m like a guy who has a picture of the Eiffel Tower hanging in his living room, but hasn’t spent more than a day or two to Paris.

Someday, though…

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A Laurel & Hardy Party #2: “Berth Marks”

This is one of the lesser lights among Laurel and Hardy’s dozens of two-reeler talkies, but it’s still funny with that all-important mean streak. Our heroes hop a passenger train—just barely making it, of course—and chaos ensues. The centerpiece gag is a bit that runs a little too long in which they slapstick their way in and out of a berth for a much-needed nap after a long day of being complete idiots.

Still, the funniest thing here is that Stan Laurel is a musician, lugging around a cumbersome upright bass, and Oliver Hardy is his manager. Just the idea of that is funny. They’re blundering bohemians on their way to a vaudeville gig in Pottsville. THAT’S the movie I want to see. Stan screwing up his performance, breaking a string or two, accidentally knocking over the rest of the orchestra with his instrument. Then, Ollie struggling to get paid after the show, arguing with the shyster theater manager, finally getting what he and Stan are due, after which he steps outside and trips over the bass. The money flies in the air and is carried away by the wind.

And maybe they made that one. I’m still making my way through the 10-DVD box set. Bear with me.