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THE SCENE AT THE COPPER CASTLE


Special for THE NEW TIMES HOLLER!
"I nevah in my life see sich a sight!" The Party, Paul Lawrence Dunbar
© Amir Bey, 2007
July 12


The jazz scene at the Tin Palace during the late 70s in New York, and a quartet from 2007 at the Brecht Forum (The "Bike Farm") is the inspiration for this story. (See resume: THE NEW TIMES HOLLER! http://thenewtimesholler.com). Most of the characters’ names don’t allude to anyone, with the exception of at the end of the story, Roosta Mars – Ras Moshe; Saber Baton – Sabir Mateen; Clef Jam - Clif Jackson; and Jake “Crazy Horse” Corral – Jackson Krall, and “Pooch’s Place” in Oakland, CA, refers to the late bassist, Wilbur “Pooch” Morris, who I knew since my days in 1972 in Oakland.



THE FIREMENS AT THE COPPER CASTLE

Roosta Mars an' Saber Baton; Clef Jam on bass, Jake "Crazy Horse" Corral not visible.



So yesterday I went to the Copper Castle an’ so many folks was there! Shiny Blake, Thermometer Jones, Okra Blue an’ Shelly Tortosa, all sittin’ around improvising without using they axes.

I called out to Two-Tones Hannigan, I says “You seen Bobby Bustin’?” Two-Tones says, “No I ain’t seen B-B, but maybe Bishop Stew seen ‘em.” I thought, “Dang, it’d be my luck to talk wit’ Bishop Stew before the set!”

I looked at Bishop, who was lookin’ at me, when Fooshia Dream walked in, dressed in a long hot pink silk chiffon gown, her hair glidin’ behind her like puffs of smoke.

She din’t say nuthin’ to nobody, jes’ walked up to the stage, took the mike in her hand, an’ started singing “Been Long, But I Ain’t Gone”. Even ol’ Gangrene Wilson had to stop an’ check her out! Right when she finished, the hoofer Bunion Burner walked in with his entourage, which included Red Howlton, Dorothy Do (always coiffed!), Big Bell an’ Tony Palang. They came to hear the hottest quartet in town, The Firemens.

Everybody remembers The Firemens’ last performance at the Bike Farm, when they almost destroyed the place with they stuff. The Firemens are Saber Baton, reeds; Roosta Mars, reeds; Clef Jam on bass; an’ Jake “Crazy Horse” Corral on drums. Like they always do, Clef threw down some hot licks an’ Jake made his driving blasts; that got everybody to rocking they heads. On one tune, Roosta was on tenor an’ Saber played alto. Standing on opposite sides of the stage, they exploded in sound as they walked towards the center like two rams. They laid some heavy shouts all across the room, with vibrations bouncin’ off the walls, down the halls, thrillin’ everybody. They were two long rivers that are meetin’ to make a bigger lake; this wasn’t no duet, but one big solo they both played. After a while, the feelin’ went beyond the intensity, like when you go beyond pain or hunger, to a comfortable place inside, an’ you can see everything clearly. That’s what’s good about The Firemens: they take you to that place. The fire an’ heat of Roosta an’ Saber’s separate horns make currents and cross-currents; then you’re being soothed, and you travel. The Firemens will play at Pooch’s Place in Oakland, CA, next Sunday.





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