The great composer, instrumentalist, and humanitarian David Amram replied to my post the other day on the book Richie Beirach and I put together on the film Whiplash.
David occasionally writes me long expressions of his reactions to certain things I post, and since his 91st birthday is coming up in a week, I asked him if I could post what he wrote me this morning. He agreed without hesitation.
I also just posted the long interview he did with me last year for Jazz Master Savvy.
Let me start with just a few words about David.
David may be 91 years-old according to the calendar, but inside, he has the vitality and enthusiasm for life of someone in their 20's just discovering the wonders of the world.
The stories he tells contain more wisdom than is immediately apparent. I remember editing our interview and frequently realizing, "Ohhh. I get it."
The one indication that David has been on this earth for almost 100 years is the sheer amount he has accomplished in just one lifetime. I'll let you watch our interview for the details but anyone who has been a high-profile advocate for music education, conducted the New York Philharmonic, played with Dizzy Gillespie, was friends with Miles and Bird, scored major movies, and was close friends with Jack Kerouac deserves to have a movie made about his life. Oh yeah, one was made!
So allow David to educate, inspire, and entertain you with some wordsmithing that I'm sure was something that helped form the bond between him and Kerouac.
Thank for, Mike, for ALL your e-mails over the years.
When I met Richie Beirach MANY years ago, he was already a great player at an early age and has gotten even better in the decades since.
I would suggest to our readers that we mention Richie and all the great souls (all natural educators) who keep jazz alive, and not even MENTION the name of that pathetic film that, like the brainwashers of the Third Reich, turned something sacred into the opposite of what it was.
The ancient symbol of peace and love was reversed by the founders of the Third Reich into the Swastika, the advertisement for the philosophy of Adolph Hitler.
Like this rotten film, the extraordinary gift of jazz to remind us all of what music is about was turned into a glorification of destruction and humiliation of others.
Jazz is such a sophisticated, ever-changing form of music, its origins require a lifetime of study and awareness of the sanctity of the THEN, a reverence for the NOW, with an open mind and sensitivity to others.
The old Achtung you Swine approach of how to educate others by terrorizing them is more fitting for students of Sadism than it is for information about how to spend a lifetime learning about jazz or learning about anything of enduring value.
So I recommend NEVER even mentioning the name of this truly rotten film or the poor frustrated unmusical person who was not qualified to teach anything except for showing what you become if you never experienced any love in your life or hung out with people who could help you overcome your own feelings of inadequacy and learn to appreciate other people who are already better than you will ever be!!
All the messages you send out to your subscribers are informative, and your works with Richie Beirach are splendid examples of an enlightened musician who knows how to bring out the BEST in others.
And as the people responsible for making this film, let's hope that someday they get lucky enough to see or hear SOMEONE playing this music we all love and then meet and spend some time with them.
Then they can make another film that may have something to do with what that film should have been about!!
All of us fortunate enough to experience what jazz is and those who continue to create it know that ultimately it is all a mystery, like nature itself, but worth spending your life trying to figure it all out.
I feel blessed to have spent my life with people who felt that there were never too many sunsets and never enough beauty.
The Music Industry collapsed because the people in charge of it, unfortunately, were not aware of the importance and lasting power of all true music built to last.
They ignored the gifts of Native American, Latin, Asian, African, Irish, Middle Eastern cultures, and the treasure chest of all the other Global folk roots, which continue to enrich the world.
Ironically, little attention was paid to the brilliance of the American songbook and the variety of TODAY'S incredible singer-songwriters, instrumentalists, composers and the vast number of LISTENERS who feel the SPIRITUAL and intellectual and social value that all true forms of music built to last can encompass.
John Keats was on the money when he said "A thing of Beauty is a joy forever."
So since I am about to hit the BIG 91in a few days, I have become an official member of the Senior-Bopper Golden Age Constituency and feel obliged to share some of the treasures that were bestowed upon all of us lucky enough to be around so many gifted people
That means that since I am fortunate enough to still be here, I have to remind younger folks that contrary to the advice that career councilors give all of us when we are starting out, when these experts listed all the perils of pursuing what we loved to do and felt that we were put here to do, all of us oldsters who weathered that storm back then are obligated to show today's generation that CONTRARY to the gloomy advice which we were all given, (designed to discourage us before we even got started) if you can somehow stay on your path and show your appreciation and gratitude for being able to do what you love to do, in spite of all challenges, you can show the world today that the struggles only make you stronger and more compassionate.
And that ultimately ….
# 1 Desperation is very stimulating.
#2 Premature expiration is highly overrated.
# 3 You are only as old as you make other people feel.
Like many of my old-time contemporaries, I remain inspired by the wit and wisdom of the great ballplayer Satchel Page who never let Father Time get in the way of what he loved to do.
After hearing author Mark Twain's famous quote "Age is an issue of mind over matter", Satchel Page made his own version of this mantra by rephrasing it.
When he was asked by a reporter what it was like to FINALLY be hired as a pitcher in the major leagues for the first time and made Rookie of the Year when he was in his late 40s, Satchel responded by saying “Life is a question of mind over matter; if you don’t mind, then it don't matter.”
So I am happy that after a year and a half of involuntary incarceration in the Cyrus the Virus Penitentiary, I am back to my pre-COVID nutty schedule and grateful to be able to have one!!
And encourage everyone else to follow their hearts and to have one too!
So please stay strong yourself and keep doing what you and Richie and so many others around the world are doing
Our best days are yet to come!!
Below is the link announcing all details of my THREE 91st Birthday concerts. Hopefully, these events will inspire others to hang in there!
#1 Nov 17th In the City of Newport RHODE ISLAND (the actual date of my birthday) 6 pm-830pm
# 2 Nov 19th, and 20th in Tarrytown NY at the Jazz Forum Two shows each night at 730 and 9pm
# 3 December 5th in New York City at the Theater for The New City 8-pm until midnight
I wish you could come.
Please share any of this with your friends if you feel that it might make them feel that their dreams are worth pursuing!!
Everyone has a song to sing and a story to tell!!
So let the film rot in the landfill along with all the other trash we produce which has no value or longevity!
Keep up your fine work and tell Richie I was impressed when he showed me his silver cigarette case when we met over thirty years ago at a jam session in NYC. I was as impressed by the elegance of his silver case as I was by the elegance of his playing!!
(STILL a promising young composer,
in spite of my speedometer assigning me
to becoming a Nonagenarian)