Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Jazz painting: Swing Beckons Charlie
I was boasting on Facebook – not for the first time – to a musician that I'd done a painting of Charlie Christian. Then all I found was this, a flared-out photo of it, and realised that archiving isn't really my long suit.
Anyway, we'd been discussing the astonishing talent and virtuosity of Django Reinhardt whose biography by Michael Dregni I've just finished. I haven't thought of this picture for years – a friend rents it for his office in Shoreditch – but it was painted when I was listening to him exclusively in my old studio. I think he was originally painted warming up for a Minton's Playhouse gig around 1940, just a year before his death. (I used to love to listen to a live recording of Honeysuckle Rose, almost drowned out by the raucous throng at the bar), then I changed it to a Benny Goodman broadcast warm-up.
I entitled it Swing Beckons Charlie because that what I made the CBS logo in reverse stand for, and I'm always keen on a bit of word play... One afternoon I strolled into Waitrose to buy a bag of meat or something, and I was whistling a Benny Goodman tune I'd just heard on the radio. A fellow shopper approached me and asked me if I was whistling Royal Garden Blues. When I replied that indeed I was, he asked, "Who's on drums?"