Sunday, November 26, 2006

Jazz Aristocracy

The historic Summit Meeting of the Jingo/Lightfoot Clans now over, we slowly reacclimate to Life Not on the Road. The dogs happily resettle into their daily routine (sleep, eat, bark, repeat) and the humans prepare for the hideous Christmas season.

I call to your attention the fact that the photographs of the Soulfinger gig I'd earlier promised, fail to actually appear in this post. Funny story about that....

Thanksgiving Day at the Lightfoot household was only slightly marred by the fact that Bobby (who now, it appears, has had his personality entirely subsumed by that of a rather cranky Indian Doctor of Rock named Anoush Devendra -- as haven't we all at some point or another) was due to play a gig with Soulfinger that night in Hartford. It being the sanctified holiday season, however, roughly half of Soulfinger had begged off the gig, leaving, I was informed, a skeleton lineup of drums, bass, keyboards and...trombone. Yes, the main melodic duties of the evening were to be performed by that King of the Comical Musical Instruments, the 'Bone. The wielder of this instrument, though, was somebody pretty special in Bobby's eyes; he'd given him the Lightfoot nom-de-blog Jazz Aristocracy.

I inadvertently eavesdropped on a phone call from Soulfinger's booking agent & bass flogger, Ace McClintock, to Bobby in the early afternoon: "M-hm. Yeah. Oh, yeah. No I haven't asked him yet. I will now." Bobby put the phone to his chest. To me, he said, "Dude, you want to sit in?"


New England's finest Motown/Stax bar-band. Wants me. To sit in. On guitar.

I spent a good two hours that afternoon boning up on the band's setlist on Bobby's groovy Yamaha axe -- "Knock on Wood," "What's Going On," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "Superstition," "Who's Making Love." My nervousness drifted away as I came to the realization that these chestnuts ain't exactly Yngwie Malmsteen territory for a guitarist; as long as I had the home key and some idea of the structure, I'd be able to fake it convincingly. The scariest item on the setlist was "Brown Sugar," the only number to feature the guitar out front. I reached waaay back into deep storage for that one, finally finding it. I was ready.

Even Lori Lightfoot and Wonder Woman were prepared to abandon hearth & home to catch the spectacle of Soulfinger Featuring Neddie Jingo -- they tucked the teenieboppers into their Playstation comas and followed the lads to the gig in their own car.

But, wouldn't you know it, just as Bobby and I were hitting the outskirts of Hartford, his cellie rang. It's Ace McClintock. Terrible news: The gig's off. Whether the cancellation had anything to do with the previous night's shenanigans -- Ace, a great dévoté of the Grape and the Grain -- had fallen out the door of the club during a set and had completed "What'd I Say" from the alley -- or the extremely light turnout this Thanksgiving night, was immaterial. The only thing that counted was that my Date with Destiny was to remain a chimera.

We still pressed on to the club, though -- Bobby had to retrieve his Rhodes and help load out. As we entered, shaking the pissing-down rain from our sou'-westers, Ace greeted us and pressed frothy beverages into our shaking hands. As Bobby got to work, I took a seat at the bar next to a rather unprepossessing figure, already fairly festive from the Jägermeisters he'd been pounding down. This personage, Bobby informed me while coiling patch cords, was Jazz Aristocracy.

We made small talk, did Jazz A. and I, touching on this point and that. Early in the proceedings, I got my first taste of how Mr. Aristocracy had earned his name; he casually let it drop that he'd once been a member of one of the later Chet Baker Nonets.

"Say the who, what -- di-did you just say Chet Baker?"

"Yeah." This with a world-weary sigh. "See, I'd just come off the road with Maynard Ferguson, Chet was looking for a trombonist, and --"

Holy creeping shit! Jazz Aristocracy! I'm sitting here in this shitty little Connecticut bar with Jazz Aristocracy! I almost sat in with Jazz Aristocracy! My cobwebby little guitar riffs and stone-cliché fills, desperately worked out that afternoon, might actually have shared a sonic space with a cat who's played with Billy Eckstine, Mel Tormé, and Dizzy Motherfucking Gillespie!


We stepped outside so Jazz A. could have a smoke under the club's awning, out of the bucketing rain. The thought's been on my mind, Jazz was, as I say, on the outside of more than a few Jägermeisters, so I thought I might as well bring it up.

"I've been having an email conversation with a guy in Australia on the topic of Musical Archetypes, you know? Like the chord progression i-VII-VI-V, is amazingly often associated with cats--"

I didn't have a tape recorder, so I can't reproduce it perfectly, but here's Jazz Aristocracy's answer as best I can do it:

"Musical archetypes? Archetypes? Yeah, I know what you're talking about. It's the Golden Mean, man. Two over three, man, that's the archetype right there, Jack. The clave in Brazilian music. Voom-tick-n-tick-tick, voom tick-n-tick, that's the archetype right there, man, that's all you need to know, the Golden Mean, the 1:1.618 ratio that comes to us all the way from the Renaissance to today, man, it never changes, it just assumes different forms, dig? From the nautilus shell to the Parthenon to the time signatures in 'Well, You Needn't,' it's always the same ratio, man, it's always that same Golden Mean, the distance from your eye to your chin and from your chin to your bellybutton, it's always that Golden Mean, and that's all the archetype you need right there, all you need, yes, sir...."

Jesus. Yo, Soulfinger. You need a guitarist -- however easily impressed with tall talk from Jazz Aristocracy -- you call me, OK? I can drop whatever I'm doing to sit in, dig? That is, if it means I can sit at Jazz Aristocracy's feet and soak in his grade-A, high-test, primo bullshit. Bullshit for the ages, man. Bullshit from a pro.

You want to know a little more about Jazz Aristocracy, I found this. That's the guy, man. That's the guy.


fgfdsg said...

And you still think you don't live an interesting life?

Dude! I like the sound of Jazz Aristocracy. He'd makes my little I to IV and back obsession sound almost rational.

Ask your brother, the good Doctor, to question J.A. further about the Em / Em11 rotation equalling the heterosexual sex act thing.

Squeeze seemed to think a G / Em rotation (transposed mid verse, but still same intervals) is 'Cool For Cats', but if you reverse it to a Em / G rotation you have the hook of 'The Lovecats' by the Cure.

Unfortunately, Robert Smith occassionally hints at a D chord in there, which obviously worries me coupled with the Em. It gives me the squirmly feeling that as he's petting his kitty, Blofeld-style, that he's possibly reaching into something more than Felix's Bag of Tricks.

At least it will save him money on Q-Tips.

And where does that damn B7 fit into the grand scheme of things?

Kevin Wolf said...

Am I to understand J.A. is a Mason?

Good stuff. I think I know the type. I knew a lot of band guys in high school and some of them were already acting like junior league versions of Mr. Aristocracy. Though I'm not sure any of them managed to make a career of it.

Will Divide said...

I dated chimeras for years.

And really, Neddo, it sounds (ha!) like you spent part of your holiday with a fugitive from V.

Decatur Dem said...

And really, Neddo, it sounds (ha!) like you spent part of your holiday with a fugitive from V.

Is it possible he actually recorded with (gasp!)McClintic Sphere?

And while we're on the subject, have you hefted the new Pynchon yet?

glue birl said...


Dig this. I just wrote a post about you live blogging at Mannion's.

Dig it!

Anonymous said...

You, Neddie, are a fuckin' treasure.


Anonymous said...

Dear Brother-In-Law:

I know it was simply a "damn I forgot moment" but wasn't that turkey amazing!

Lori Lightfoot

PS WW and I risked life and limb for that meal.

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Nice, dude. Great.

I always like to introduce J.A. as "the guy who watched Chet Baker fall to his death" or "you can hear him in th' background on that Buddy Rich Ream-out on th' Tourbus Bootleg Tape".

I like the story about watching Herb Alpert knock all of Chet's teeth out in front of th' club.

XTCfan said...

Good thing the gig fell through, Ned. If you'd played with Bobby without me, I would have cut your nuts off.

BTW, more about JA here. Looks like one impressive cat, no matter what the progression is.