Sonny Boy Williamson (AKA Aleck [or Alex] “Rice” Miller, 1912[?]-1965), “Lonesome Cabin” (S. B. Williamson)
Live, Copenhagen, 1964
on honorable Buddha’s
—Kobayashi Issa, 1763-1827 (translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)
Sonny Boy Williamson (AKA Aleck [or Alex] “Rice” Miller, 1912[?]-1965), “Nine Below Zero” (S. B. Williamson), 1951
yesterday, Oak Park, Ill.
How it haunts the heart, the unfathomable mystery of other people’s lives, other people’s misfortunes.
—John Banville, Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir
Buddy Guy, “First Time I Met the Blues” (E. Montgomery), 1960
yesterday, Oak Park, Ill.
I had been hungry, all the Years –
My Noon had Come – to dine –
I trembling drew the Table near –
And touched the Curious Wine –
‘Twas this on Tables I had seen –
When turning, hungry, Home
I looked in Windows, for the Wealth
I could not hope – for Mine –
I did not know the ample Bread –
‘Twas so unlike the Crumb
The Birds and I, had often shared
In Nature’s – Dining Room –
The Plenty hurt me – ’twas so new –
Myself felt ill – and odd –
As Berry – of a Mountain Bush –
Transplanted – to a Road –
Nor was I hungry – so I found
That Hunger – was a way
Of Persons outside Windows –
The Entering – takes away –
—Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), 439 (Franklin)
tonight in Chicago
He’s playing at Buddy Guy’s club (Legends), opening for Buddy himself.
Toronzo Cannon, “All Along the Watchtower” (B. Dylan), live, Detroit area (Auburn Hills), 2017
voices I miss
Von Freeman (1923-2012), tenor saxophonist, MCOTD Hall of Fame
“Oleo” (S. Rollins) with Clifford Jordan (tenor saxophone), Willie Pickens (piano), Dan Shapera (bass), Robert Shy (drums), Chicago (Chicago Jazz Festival), 1988
With John Young (1922-2008, piano), et al., live (radio broadcast), late 1970s
“A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (E. Maschwitz & M. Sherwin) with Jodie Christian (piano), Rufus Reid (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), live, Harrisburg, Penn., 1994
“I Can’t Get Started” (V. Duke, I. Gershwin), live, Belgium, 1992
“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” (R. Rodgers, L. Hart) with Mike Allemena (guitar), Matt Ferguson (bass), Michael Raynor (drums), live, Chicago (Mandel Hall, University of Chicago), 2011
my back pages
On this night forty-two years ago, at a church thirty miles north of Chicago, my wife, Suzanne, and I were married. Outside the church it was cold and snowy. Inside Von Freeman was playing, along with pianist John Young. All of what they played that night, before, during, and after the ceremony, can be heard here (0:15-) (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “It Never Entered My Mind,” “More” [before]; “In a Sentimental Mood” [when Suzanne walked down the aisle]; “My Favorite Things,” “Song for My Father” [after]) .
This guy, whom I worked with in the 1970s, co-producing this track and a few others for Alligator Records (Living Chicago Blues, Vol. 1), just turned ninety. One of my sons, now older than I was then, heard him the other night at a Chicago club, where, he said, his guitar playing was “robust.” How wonderful to be ninety years old and robust. How wonderful, too, to be able to share music with a son.
“Breaking up Somebody’s Home” (T. Matthews, A. Jackson), 1978
Here he is forty years later.
“People Get Ready” (C. Mayfield), “That’s All Right,” Chicago, 2018