Shot 3 Silenced the Singer: The Prequel
Eddie Jefferson was a Jazz Singer and an Original,
the creator of a genre, a new musical form. ...read more (2/3)Eddie’s take on Moody’s Mood For Love
captured the King
stretched Pleasure’s wig
into the griot galaxy of Coverland
where he put his own firebrand
on the EJ tune
at the fabled Harlem Amateur Hour
at the Apollo Theater
captured the NIGHT.
Jefferson was the Patriarch Lyric Composer
of Jazz Vocalese, the art of injecting lyrics
into the landmark recorded instrumental solos
and melodies of the Jazz Canon.
Eddie put word to improvisation. He went beyond scat,
though he could do that too. Jefferson’s lyrics to
Moody’s Mood For Love have found popular expression
in recordings by Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison,
Queen Latifah, and Amy Winehouse;
sampled by Prince Paul on his Mood for Love
and was performed by a contestant
on American Idol.
Eddie Jefferson was murdered in Detroit 34 years ago
on May 9, 1979, his life ending in an alley
next to the world renowned Baker’s Keyboard Lounge.
Eddie Jefferson made the music new
cut the deals & counted the kitty
booked the bus, the train
hit the dead end
ate dry bread.
Dancing through the world at war
hoofing with the Lanny Ross Show in 1946
Eddie made a public ripple
into his Vocalese destiny
singing in a 1949 recorded live session.
Parker’s Mood flew with Eddie’s words
& Lester Young’s solo on
I Cover The Waterfront
went with EJ’s text
on a long lost 78 rpm
released on Spotlite
for early scenes and ears.
A new decade took him touring
with Sarah Vaughn
dancing for Sassy in 1950.
Eddie was the opener
first out on the high wire
turning the key
for the marquee players.
Upon the Jefferson rock
was built new music of the night
hip rhymes on the solos
of Hawk & Prez
Diz & Bird
Dexter and then James Moody
from the heart.
Moody’s Mood For Love
became the EJ anthem
EJ put the script
to the Moody alto flower.
gris gris, ju ju
cruets pouring water & wine
powder horn, goat skin
Saint Barman returns bottles
Alpha & Omega to the top shelf
& shakes a golden tumbler to Life.
Eddie was playing the Cotton Club
in Cincinnati in 1952
when King Pleasure caught his act
& tranced in the Vocalese
def Jefferson lyric rhapsodies
rapping over the solos of the Masters.
They met after-hours for a soul & skull session.
Smelling the roses
the Pleasure Man went pro
& took the tune into the studio
for mass media
& into the arms of the charts:
a #5 R & B HIT.
Then in ’52 Annie Ross counted coup
with her lyrics
to Wardell Gray’s solo on Twisted
& to Art Farmer’s big blow
on Farmer’s Market
just before her union
with Dave Lambert & Jon Hendricks
who would soon take their Vocalese
to the Hall of Fame along with a big shot
to the wallet.
Eddie Jefferson still glowed
huge with his vocal kicks
his humble praise offerings
to satisfy his own mind
Body & Soul
while waiting in the shadows
On The Road.
He did tell the critic Ira Gitler
about King Pleasure:
he copped those lyrics
but in a way
it opened it up
Shot 3 Silenced the Singer: The Deed
Eddie Jefferson is on the marquee in Detroit
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
May 9, 1979
1:35 in the AM
When the music’s over, step out into quiet night
1, 2, 3, 4, exit
Baker’s on Livernois Avenue
into the Motor City street.
The Patriarch Lyric Composer of Jazz Vocalese
Griot Poet who busted rhymes
on the solos of the Jazz Giants
for the World Stage
is now hustling back to his road home
the Leland House Hotel
with friends Cheryl Francis,
Leonard Paul Harrell & Valerie Chalk.
Eddie Jefferson shut down the gig EARLY
some snide audience heckling
ripping the pick-up band
& his hard post-bopping Alto player Richie Cole
an attack from an Avant-Garde aficionado faction.
EJ had spidey sense & threw a safety net over Cole
told him to lay out of his party
stay put with his Flame
actress Brenda Vaccarro
who was hanging in D Town
with The Alto Madness Man.
Eddie Jefferson hit the Street.
Cheryl Francis painted a gothic tableau:
We heard a loud bang.
I saw smoke.
It was a green Lincoln.
I saw fire shoot out of the passenger side
Just a big burst of fire came out the window.
I kept asking, Where is Eddie?
Leonard Paul Harrell followed Eddie out of the club
53, of Detroit, a dancer
& old running buddy of EJ.
He viewed the green & chrome
Lincoln of Death
pull around a Checker Cab & stop.
2 shots close together rang out
I SAW THE BARREL OF THE SHOTGUN
OUT THE WINDOW FIRING.
THE 3rd SHOT HIT EDDIE.
HE SAID ‘HUP,’ like that.
...read more (3/3)I guess the force of the shot turned him to the right
& he started running.
I looked up to the 4th shot coming to ME.
I could only see the barrel of the gun & the person
that was holding---
the shadow of the person holding the gun
It was a green Lincoln Town Car
Light green or dark green?
Green like the green in a flower
green like a leaf
Green like the St. Patrick’s day hats?
Not that bright. Not that bright. A green leaf.
Like a green leaf?
BANG BANG BANG BANG
Paul hit the bricks yelled
The artist who put words to Eddie Harris’
Freedom Jazz Dance
made Last Dance steps
35 feet down an alley
made THE BIG JUMP
Vamping, Looping, Riffing
a funky gurgling New Vocalese
fresh for the yank
by The Sandman with the Shepherd’s Crook.
I said, Shotgun
4 blasts from the DRIVER
Late model / Leaf green.
I said, Shot 3
silenced the SINGER
put him Out, baby
Off the spinning Earth
photo by Leni Sinclair
Also by Mark James Andrews
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