Finding music.

While I took in all the benefits of a wooded Connecticut childhood, moving to LA in the 60’s opened up a world of music for me. At the age of 18 in 1963 I was embarrassed to realize I knew next to nothing about American music, but I figured if I just left the radio on for a year I probably could catch up. The station was KBCA FM, which 24 hours a day beamed the history of jazz cushioned in the classics of Blue Note and Prestige and Riverside Records from a “wine colored velvet covered lounge” in South Los Angeles.

But in the end concerts made all the difference.T. Monk or Charlie Mingus at Schoenberg Hall in West LA.John Coltrane at the It Club on Washington Blvd. Miles and all his bands plus numinous others like The Modern Jazz Quartett at Shelly’s Mann Hole in Hollywood. Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Cannonball Adderly and the Jazz Crusaders at The Lighthouse in Manhattan Beach. There was also the Monterey Jazz Festival where you could see them all at once together with Duke Ellington and the greats of his amazing generation.

In and around LA I also was able to hear the living legends of North and South Indian music Bismillah Khan, Balasaraswati, MS Subbulakshmi, Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Viliat and Imrat Khan and Nikil Banerjee.One year I studied voice and sitar in Hollywood at the Kinara School with Lakshmi and Ravi Shankar funded by day work in the aerospace industry at Garrett Air Research measuring the speed of sound in graphite fiber.

The First modern composer I met was Henri Pousseur doing a tour of small American colleges like mine. Next were at performances of Merce Cunningham and at the many events arranged by Pauline Oliveros when she was bringing music to southern California: Harry Partch, John Cage, David Tudor, Kosugi, David Behrman, Tone, Gordon Mumma, Terry Riley and others in San Francisco, La Jolla, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and LA.

My earliest experience of the enthusiastic potential of concerts is a wild but dim possibly even false memory of James Brown fighting his way back to the stage. The band peaking, two players cover his shoulders with a fighters robe and back him off the stage, the music calls, he cant resist and throws off the robe for another verse. Da Capo. This was in New Haven when i was15 and while I didn’t consider myself a fan (yet) the experience was some sort of watershed. It wasn’t till many years later that this dream was matched when Bruce Ida took me to see The Cream at The Shrine Auditorium in LA , The ultimate in this combination of music and possession was reserved for Jimmy Hendrix, by that time I was a believer.