Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Played with Bird, Part 3

Here are the first two parts.

Peter Ind
, still alive, still active in jazz, though not as a musician.

As a musician, mostly involved with Lennie Tristano, but in a review of Ind's book on Tristano, John Robert Brown gives us this.

In 1950, on another of his trips, and having already taken lessons with Lennie Tristano, Ind was invited to play the first set with the pianist's sextet at Birdland. New York was so alluring that in 1951 Ind, taking three double basses, went to live there. Soon he was playing alongside Elvin Jones, Duke Jordan and Lennie Tristano, and rehearsing with Gerry Mulligan and Neal Hefti.

Lessons with Tristano are described. The blind pianist had an exceptional ear, a powerful memory and interpersonal directness. His students were required to memorise famous jazz solos, sing them, then write them down. Extensive work on scales and arpeggios was required. There was an emphasis on learning melodies. Tristano comes across as a dominant figure, though paradoxically 'needing' his students, in a psychological sense.

Along with many others in the New York community of the time, Tristano was influenced by the psychologist Wilhelm Reich. Ind spends several pages describing Tristano's respect for Reich's writing, and how Ind would read aloud to Tristano from Reich's books. In 1947, following a series of articles in The New Republic and Harpers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began an investigation into Reich's claims, winning an injunction against the promotion of his orgone therapy as a medical treatment. Charged with contempt of court for violating the injunction, Reich conducted his own defence. This involved sending the judge all his books to read! In 1956 Reich was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and died while serving his sentence. Frustratingly, Ind spends several pages on Reich, but only gives us part of the fascinating and instructive story. I have since discovered (not from Ind's book) that Kate Bush's song Cloudbusting is based on a book by Reich's son, Peter.

Ind never met Reich. He met and played with Bird, but Ind, as an immigrant, 'felt wary of becoming too involved with anyone associated with narcotics, knowing that I risked deportation should I find myself so accused.' The bassist also accompanied Billie Holiday, but tells us nothing about the experience. He worked with Buddy Rich. Apart from remarking that Rich was 'the proverbial pain in the arse,' nothing is revealed.

I once interviewed Russian emigre jazz musician Valery Ponomarev about his first trip to NYC. I asked him what surprised him most. He said well, he knew about the jazz greats like Art Blakey and Horace Silver, but he was totally unprepared for the number of incredibly gifted jazz musicians who played in obscurity. So here's to Peter Ind, and all the others we didn't hear of, who made jazz what it is.

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