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December 11, 1975     The Texas Sun
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December 11, 1975
 

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17 There is an Austin jazz scene, and it's due to Dick Goodwin, 'ho planted the seed, Rod Kennedy who watered it thanklessly, and To all the guys playing, who have put together their individual Sets without any prospect of making it. by Fred Bourque the art, Austin-wise, in 1965, for rather My own interest in jazz in Austin than climbing aboard the new thing he l tes from about ten years ago (for has preferred to develop his own ight into the dark days during the considerable talents within the familiar .' ties and early Sixties talk to John context of early Sixties, post-bop, lt tin, who was there and somehow blowing jazz. l naged to live to tell about it; or find So his repertoire includes "Song for Kennedy, who single-handedly My Father" and "Speedball," venera- [tried repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, ble pleasers from the mid-Sixties bring the real thing to town during Messengers. He can also go back into Ilnelate Sixties). 1965 was my first year Bird, and you'll hear "Billie's Bounce" . town, and my first brush with Austin or"Now's the Time." Or he'll come up It was a bad time for jazz all round, 'Trane with "Spiritual" or "Afro-Blue.' especially bad in this town. In the The set pretty much depends on the years since a lot has happened, and instrumentation and what his sidemen Scene has changed. The big change can cut; Polk can do it all. that there is now a scene to speak of, Which brings me to The Brothers. [thich brings me to the purpose of this Polk's gig has benefitted from a [,aide. succession of dompetent, sometimes [ Is there an Austin scene? Well, inspired sidemen and soloists. These es, there is, though it s not as well latter include drummers John White- veloped or even visible as the local burst and B////e Joe Walker, altoman [mcionados would have us believe, rll Fred Smith and most recently about that later, but first I want to tenorman Larry 15r . There were inisce. Stay with me. others. These stand out for me. 11965. There was nothing resembling Whitehurst, whocomes back to town lJazz community in Austin at that time. occasionally, is a thin, energetic, Ure, they were playing the music in a always moving musician with a discreet, unconnected places on limitless bags of licks and tricks; he r nday afternoons, but there were no these stand out. There are other East side men who are not associated with Polk, though everyone who passes through brushes with him. Martin Banks is a trumpeter who's spent time with Ray Charles' band, the traveling half-way house for Texas musicians on the way up or down the professional ladder. Banks names Kinny Dorham, himself an Austinite, as an influence, and Martin's more lucid playingreflects the post-bop "hunting" runs that were Dorham's trademark. He's also flirted with the "avant- garde," going so far as to make a record with Archie Shepp ("The Magic of Ju-Ju"); but he shows best in a hard bop groove. That's about it for the real thing on the East side, at least in my memory. Of the people who've made the strongest impressions on me, Polk is the only one still cooking. Whitehurst I believe is teachingin Colorado. Smith is in L.A. or on the road with Smokey. Walker has given up music for a higher reality -- I inherited his tunes. Banks is thinking about going back with Ray Charles, but I don't think he's doing 'much now. Polk is still cooking, a lonely refuge in the night, like a lighthouse. On the other side of town near the drag, places were opening and dosing almost daily around '65. ' rhe Id" tried to make it first as a jazz all-nighter, later as a warm spot for folkers. This Top right: Coleman Hawkins. Above: Me naries of the Longhorn Jazz Festival was near }uadalupe on 24th where The Castillian is now. It was a black box Sixties Coltrane style, a weaver of long, with red highlights where people came reminds you of Elvin Jones, bothflowing lines that have a hypnotic, totouchelbowsanddrinkstrongcoffee ffoup names, no real working musically and physically, drug-like effect. To call him thoughtful on the tail of the "expresso" thing. I iliations. ..... 1 hm on Walker, on the other hand, isourown would minimize his musical intelli- have a vague recollection of seeing They were playingtne,=,.t " g Roy Hanes: thoughtful, always gence. Watching Larry work, you Mose Allison there in its transition rl , . East side on off nights at Charlie s appropriate, theperfect accompanist, a sense the searching concentration that period. Maybe not. rlaDayhouse on 1 lth and out at its sister man of style and taste. He even looks motivates his improvisations. He is one , Around the corner was a place called lub, The Hideaway, on Sunday like Roy. of the breed of saxophonists -- Azar 'The Matchbox,' all-night coffee and fternoons. Fred Smith is in the post-Bird, Stitt Lawrence, Billy Harper and, closer to jamming with an out-of-tune upright. alto tradition. A soloist of great home, Tomas Ramirez -- seeking their BillLamb, a would-be chemist, had The joints weren't rough then. There ere other places, but those two lasted. About the only one left from that Qwd now is James Polk, a Urneyman organist in the post- 'lramy Smith "cookin" style who acsistently pleases. His group, The . others, has weathered first the calm indifference and now the storm of Velty that s swept town and come ough still sounding good. The Polk is fairly indicative of the state o! breadth and fire, he could have -- and has on occasion --played with the best. He's currently with Smokey Robinson, I think. He comes to town infrequently and can be heard on those rare occasions with Polk's band. He's incredible. Larry Williams is a newcomer to Polk's set. He's been in and out of the gig for about three years. Williams isa big-boned, big-toned tenor in the early personal voice in the unabashed spiritualism of John Coltrane. There was an earlier time when all new tenor men imitated Trane, and then a later time when they turned from him, in fear that their imitations were only that. Larry's coming to terms with the tradition, distilling it into something his own; and the process is fascinating to watch. There have been other brothers; the regular gig. I remember one night Pete Williams and I went in there and Pete made the thing sound like a Steinway. He just blew'era away. Guys would drop in from Ft. Hood on the weekends; Art Gore, the drummer, was one of them. Don Young was also a regular in the club's dying days; he played saxes, flute and piano and was cont. on page 22