Surviving Greatness: Wally Pipp & Billy Taylor

A rare few have had the misfortune to be established and very good at what they do, only to be suddenly eclipsed by a wunderkind and relegated to oblivion through no fault of their own. In fact, if these poor souls are remembered at all, it’s often only because of the greatness of those who supplanted them. One might call this the Salieri-Mozart dynamic, a most extreme case explored in the movie Amadeus. It’s a kind of halo-effect in …

I Hear A Sym-Phony

I’m never sure how far these posts travel or who sees them, so I want to avoid any misunderstanding by clarifying a couple of things in advance. In the following, I poke fun mostly at symphony musicians and eventually the French, a little bit. This is all in the spirit of parody as in my last two posts, which took the piss out of my own, namely jazz bands. I have the utmost respect for symphonic musicians, in fact

Wilbur, Beware

As the heat-wave continues, and just to show that yesterday’s otomatopoeic big band was (unfortunately) no mere passing fancy, no random accident, here’s a progressive-bop unit from the late-40s.

The band is fronted by a wild singer named Frieda Bagg, who would later go on to influence Betty Carter. Because it’s a ten-piece outfit, she calls it Frieda Bagg and The Decadents. Here’s the personnel:

Trumpet – Bendt Valver (He’s Swedish of course and suffers from severe …

‘Dis Band Should Disband!

In the wilting heat of these dog days I thought we could use a little comic diversion, so here’s one of the games jazz guys play on the road when things get boring, which is often enough. The idea is to make up an imaginary band of musicians whose names are onomatopoeic – yes, I realize that’s an awfully big word for a bass player. You know, puns for the instruments they play – and how they play them …

No Walk In the Park

The following article could be seen as a rant or attack on Jays’ catcher J.P. Arencibia, but is not really intended as such. It’s just that his struggles this year and his attitude about these bring up some larger issues about baseball – what’s important in it, how it should be played and so on – that I wanted to comment on. Before going any further though, I want to make two things clear:

1) I don’t dislike Arencibia

Doubling Up

Generally, the ballplayers who hold single-season records in various hitting categories are famous, and rightly so.

Take for example home runs, maybe the most glamorous of these categories. For a long time the single-season record was the 60 home runs hit in 1927 by Babe Ruth, still the most famous ballplayer who ever lived. Just for good measure, The Bambino also holds the all-time seasonal records for total bases, slugging average and extra-base hits. Then along came Roger Maris …