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Chapter Fourteen Of Keeping Score In America: Memory Lane

By Michael Moriarty
web posted September 23, 2013

Nostalgia's one thing but hearing Joe Williams with the Count Basie Band?! So sweet it hurts!!!

I was 14 and 15 in the mid-Fifties and "Every Day I Have The Blues" was, in the way that even Joe Williams might speak of Count Basie, "the sound of God talking". That means the Count Basie Band behind the great voice of one of America's greatest blues masters, Joe Williams.

In my teen years, all the great jazz musicians were unquestionably "God talking to me personally".

The main problem? I wasn't black. Nothing I might possibly compose could truly be either the blues or its inevitable child, American jazz.

The evolution of black music began in the black church. The hymns were taken into everyday black/slave life and inevitably became the blues.

Why? A combination of African modes, religious hymns, racial prejudice and songs on the chain-gang.

The black church, black night-life and the chain-gang?! I, of course, was never a part of any of that.

The closest I ever came to experiencing it was hearing Les McCann at an all-black night club in Detroit. I was the only white in the place. Despite my fears I braved the environment because I admired Les McCann to the point of possible death.

Here is the image of "soul" on a rainbow level, no limitations upon the shade of your skin.

From the age of fourteen till now, some fifty-eight years later, my tastes ran from Chet Baker to my ultimate trumpet experience: Miles Davis.

Why does Miles Davis, to this day, still hold my absolutely mesmerized fascination? And why does my tribute to him here no longer play?

My wife, who constructed the 77gelsomina – youtube site, says it's most likely a "technical hiccup".

In the America I know and with today's growing racial rage among blacks against whites? The pleasure many are taking in the nightmare that their "man in the White House", Barack Obama, has created?

Before the American Communist Party had even invented the term "Community Organizer", I had begun composing my classical pieces. There would be no real room in the American Jazz Society for Michael Moriarty.

This, the Third Movement of my String Quartet, at this point, plays all the way through without a problem.

Fortunately I know, without an ounce of encouragement from anyone, how good my composing is. The tribute to my love songs and jazz piano from Mel Tormé certainly hasn't hurt my self-confidence.

What has all this to do with "Keeping Score In America"?

The "scores" of all my music, its poems, are, indeed, a profoundly more important record of America than anything in my prose.

God willing Youtube will not leave so many of my creations crippled by some glitch in Youtube's transmissions. ESR

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at rainbowfamily2008@yahoo.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.

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