Ben Sidran: A Life in the Music
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Sidran's wonderfully crafted memoir revisits the many different facets of his life and career: As a performer, he has recorded with jazz icons (Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Hendricks) and rock legends (Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Steve Miller); as a composer, he has scored films (Hoop Dreams); and as a scholar he has written books and articles on the history of jazz and black music in America. With a charismatic and informed voice, Sidran illuminates scenes from his childhood in Chicago and gives an inside view of the recording industry, also revealing an awareness of the history of Jewish contributions to jazz.
into a wild scramble of cattails and tiger lilies, I felt I was saying goodbye to something. Pop now worked in the Prudential Building, the tallest building in the Loop, and riding the elevator up to his floor, I sensed that our life had changed, that he was gone, that Racine was now pretty much over for him, and that I was on the way out, too. It was just a matter of time...”Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. * * * By July, I had a job at Gordon Auto Parts. As the owner’s nephew, I was given the honor
thinking of a place I’m waiting for the day When I can make my getaway. Because as any fool can see There’s nothing here for me But hurry up boy bring that water Don’t do things you shouldn’t oughta, but When I get away 69 And find my easy street I’ll have a smile for all I meet And they will welcome me I know Everywhere I go I’ll see the town in all its glitter How could anyone be bitter? And there’s a chance That I will find my real romance When I get to my city home...” That spring, we
self-identified as a beatnik (a self-identified beatnik is an oxymoron, or maybe just a plain moron.) Maynard G. Krebbs was a beatnik. There was, however, a strong Bohemian strain, a mandate for self-expression and tolerance, the open, inquisitive spirit known locally as “the Wisconsin Idea” as it is written on the plaque in Bascom Hall: “We believe that the great state University 88 of Wisconsin should forever encourage that fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be
tore it open. The first words were “We are pleased...” and we read no further. The rest of the spring and early summer was like one long, nostalgic picnic. Judy would not be coming to England with me so we tried to make the days we had special. We stayed close to home, laughing and talking and listening to records. The soundtrack of those months included Dr. John’s The Night Tripper, James Brown’s “Cold Sweat” (who was that funky drummer?), and the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club
window into the rain and sleet and saw a Buick Roadmaster idling at the curb with the windshield wipers going. Somebody inside was waving at me. I ran out of the house and leaned into the open window. It was John Isbell and he had stolen the Buick only minutes before. In those days, car lots simply left the keys in the ignition, and if you wanted to try a car, you just told the man in the office and took it for a ride. John had slipped into the Buick that afternoon, taken the key, had it copied,