Sunday, April 4, 2010

for earl "fatha" hines (2)

for earl “fatha” hines
1903 --1983
"If you see me up there on the stand smiling, I'm lost!"
fatha hines

u made the music long before they named it
one of its many “fathas” (tho’jellyroll claimed it);
when america in heat backed up to jim crow’s fence
& let the players get to her & de dip do bop, do it.

took a gig @ seventeen for fifteen bucks a week
played piano in der liederhaus to eat & earn yr keep.
that pittsburg club, yr music matrix, molded & begat
yr insouciant, exhuberant avante garde; yr cheek.

met satchmo in chicago, joined his band & played
on some of the most important records ever made.
1928 @ the grand terrace café, u were al capone’s
piano man, led yr own big band, had it made.

for eleven years u led that band, three shows a night
four shows each saturday, broadcast on open mikes
across the nation’s airways. mr. b made his debut
& a parade of greats followed ‘cause u did it right.

no less than j mcshann & young art tatum tuned u in,
did not nod or sleep ‘til u went off the air; took in
yr lightning octaves, steady left hand tenths, yr chords,
trills, two-fingered runs & glisses; yr soul pulse/vision.

& then u faded until ’64. perhaps u peaked too soon
but never did u play a melancholy note, a despairing tune.
perfervid pianist all the while, u broke out solo, to amaze
again those who forgot or never heard yr boon.

u showed us how to swing, create real jazz playing alone,
a whole orchestra by yrself. no one ever got yr style, none!
for nineteen years until u died, u were the daddy, first
on every poll, the real fatha of jazz piano, the only one.

© Joseph McNair;2010

1 comment:

  1. "u were al capone’s piano man"- VERY COOL!

    He was one of the most amazing pianist that ever lived. He worked with the most amazing people in music ever.. like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gullespie, Etta Jones just to name a few. He was a wonderful musician and his legacy will live on. He will always be known as the piano man.