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A Couple of Notes on David Amram

When I was in New York this past summer, I had the excellent luck of witnessing X.Ray Burns do his "X.Ray Burns' America" show in Jersey City in the studios of WFMU on the Glen Jones Radio Programme. Unfortunately, Jonesy wasn't there that day, but maybe one day I'll be there again and be able to see the two of them banter. Even flying solo, managing the knobs and bottons - his Marlboros, his flask, and his beer at his side - X.Ray did a great show, and was a gracious host. For a big fan (IBJ!), and a radio guy like me, it meant a lot.

Due to circumstances, I didn't see a couple of jazz shows that looked interesting: Fred Hersch on piano or Kenny Garrett on sax, but I was able to see David Amram. We went en famille. The spousal unit liked it. I loved it. The issue was not impressed.

Amram is a serious renaissance man: musician, composer, conductor, writer, etc. He played piano, flute, percussion, french horn ... and talked a lot. About his work in film (he scored "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Splendor in the Grass"), about his collaborations and friendship with Jack Kerouac, about Mingus, Ellington, Warren Beatty .... a hilarious story about Eugene Ormandy and native American music, and on and on, and so on and so forth, etc.

Surfing the world wide web today I found this note that Arthur Miller wrote to Amram shortly before Miller's death. I got a kick out of it.

Dear David:
Some impostor has sent me an invitation to a 74th birthday party over your name. This is a likely story but of course it's impossible since the last time I saw you, you were I believe twelve. I am currently a bit under the weather so I can't make it but I wanted to congratulate you and wish you wonderful times ahead.

Miller and Amram

That would have been six years ago, for Amram today is 80. But still full of vitality. That may be explained by his philosophy, which I transcribed from a podcast I found. This is just how he rapped at the show I went to.

“The more you put out, the more you’ll get back, and that’s a reality of nature … and also the way to be a creative artist, and a creative person, and have a joyous life, and even be healthy, because selfishness, greed and uptightness, narcissism and nastiness are an overcrowded field and a non-growth industry.”

Amram conducting, 1968

A photo or two at Mondo Marco, taken by the spousal unit and the issue.



May 2019



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