Monday, June 29, 2020

Poetry by Tad Richards!

I'm going to let Tad tell us about the picture above and his first poem below:

"There's a story that goes with this, and a picture. The picture is a portrait of Alexander Steinert by my grandfather, Frank Perley Fairbanks. Frank was a winner of the Prix de Rome, and a chancellor of the American Academy of Arts in Rome, and this is one of a series of portraits he did of his fellow Prix de Rome winners in the 1920s and 30s.

Alexander Steinert was from the Steinway family, and he studied with Ravel. His career may not have gone exactly the way he had planned it, but he made a successful living writing music, and my guess is that if we were to see "The Devil Bat's Daughter," we'd find that it was pretty good music."


Alexander Steinert
winner of
the Prix de Rome
for composition
in  1931

now described
even by the
Academy as
“largely forgotten” still
found himself

in Hollywood
played the role of a
symphony orchestra
in Too Young to

Kiss with Van Johnson
conducted the soundtrack
for Bambi
and composed the
original score

for Strangler of the Swamp
The Unknown
Blondie Knows Best
Target for Today
The Devil Bat’s Daughter


But all stories are
lies and few
if any have a point
and if they do
best not to trust them

take this one
with its half dressed woman
in the second
stanza offering
untold bliss

or the grime caked miser
who promises
mention in his will
for morphine
he’s in the third stanza

by the fourth you
you start to question
his motives
her fictive complaisance
you’re better off

listening to a
solo by
Dizzy Gillespie or
Charlie Parker
there’s truth in no words


The dancer:

Teach me the truth of stillness. Let me know
Xylem and phloem coursing from my roots,
Let me feel spring with new-curled leaves and shoots,
Band me with rings to mark each year I grow.

The tree:
Show me the way to freedom from the cruel
Strictures of nature: when the wind blows west
To east, let me bend east to west, to rule
My destiny, choose when to move or rest.

You may remember the next poem from the last time Tad appeared at The Song Is...


George Wallington played
in Dizzy's first bebop
combo on 52nd Street
in 1960 he gave
up jazz, went home
to Florida, joined
the family business
air conditioners. Wendell
Marshall played with Ellington,
Coleman Hawkins,
Milt Jackson, Gerry
Mulligan, gave it up,
went back to St.
Louis, started his own
insurance agency. Teddy
Charles played swing,
played bebop, played
the far out stuff,
played with Miles, with
Mingus, with Wardell
Gray, gave it up
to get his captain's papers,
skipper a charter
skipjack on Long Island
Sound, in the Caribbean.
I’d go for that.

The picture above is of Teddy Charles at the Iridium jazz club in 2008.  In that year, his last two albums were released.

I had a hard time finding a YouTube video with Alexander Steinert's music.  This nearly thirteen minute video includes his Danse exotique:

The sound is terrible, but it gives you an idea of what the soundtrack of The Devil Bat's Daughter was like:

Steinert conducted the orchestra in the 1942 film Bambi:

I'll finish with some videos of Teddy Charles.  The first is "Laura," a song that he did with his quartet.  The bass player was Charles Mingus:

The other is "Jay Walkin'," again with Mingus on bass:

This version of "Night in Tunisia" is from Charles' 2008 album with the Walter Wolff Trio:

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