A Time Of Music, A Time Of Magic – Excerpt


Four-Bar Intro: One jazz horn singing with a search, a slow reaching that begins to develop, begins to build up into an introduction for something fast and frantic, even though the playing is yet slow and with a search; there are whole-note, heavy chords behind it now, building steadily toward a cry–for the singing is always like a cry–not of the music alone but of the people behind it, and not of the men with the talent alone but of the ones who feel it and can never express it, always living it, and of the world that is somehow different from all the rest because it moves with the singing and, too, with the heavy chords: a world made up of the bad taste of cigarettes and riding all night, of getting wonderfully drunk on clean cold beer in a hotel room in the summer, of watching the women getting drunk and uncoiling themselves and all the beautiful slickness that follows, of watching the sun come up when you are not quite sober or tired either, of three or four of you roaring into a cafĂ©, where people are eating breakfast and sullen because of a day’s starting again, and ordering steaks and being boisterous, of the bad taste of cigarettes again and the sickness and emptiness when’re you sober late in the afternoon and the complete boredom of playing a musical instrument the same way a man runs an elevator; then trying to make it more exciting, trying to stay drunk from now on, each day, until it all mounts up to getting a little more tired, a little more weary; and knowing once when you were drunk, playing the bass and looking down the strings over the bridge at the polished black shoe tapping out the time on an imitation marble floor, and your fingers moving strongly and numbly, but strongly still, that we are all like the strings on a fiddle that stay tuned sharp and are kept taut all the time and will break pretty soon, and that after the first tawny of breaking there is only silence, except for a few who can still hear the soft vibrations for a while and slightly louder just before the sound goes completely away.

From Chapter 9, Page 122:
Sully was holding his alto for the opening theme, one of the few tunes on which he used the alto. He gave a dramatic downbeat, Sammy started the deep roll on the tom-tom, and the band hit solidly “Harlem Nocturne.” Danny new it sounded damn good and effective, and the acoustics in the armory were much better than he had expected. He could sense the people come alive with the music, and at just that moment, he looked up and saw Lanelle and her parents and her brother moving to a table where he could watch her, and where, he knew, she could watch him all during the dance. He felt wonderful, and his fingers were strong and sure. He gave a short intricate run, and Frank looked up from the keyboard at him and smiled and said, “Just like old times, buddy.”

From Chapter 11, Page 143
So he bent himself more to the bass. In an eight-bar section where there was absolutely noting but bass, the notes came out clean and fat-sounding as Sully held the mike tilted over toward Danny’s right hand. When they finished and the bad had hit a big thirteenth chord at the ending, Daddy felt as good as he had felt fifteen years earlier. Yes, he thought, what better mixture in the world can there be than some whisky, a tablet of Benzedrine, a good jazz tune, a pretty girl, and an audience that loves you?


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