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    The post Get ready for National Tequila Day! appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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    The post DWSD to host water fair in wake of 15 day moratorium on Detroit water shutoffs appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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    The post Thrillist Names Detroit’s Motz’s Burgers Among Best in Nation appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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    The post In what weird ways are you paying for school? MT wants to know! appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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    The post Kid Rock ordered to produce dildo in ICP sexual harassment lawsuit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Henry Cavill and Amy Adams spotted at Pig & Whiskey

    Fans of the latest Superman franchise got a treat at Pig & Whiskey this weekend. Actors Henry Cavill and Amy Adams were spotted amid the crowds of the festival that took place in downtown Ferndale as well as a local restaurant. Cavill, who plays the man of steel in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, stopped to chat with fans, take pictures, and sign autographs on Saturday afternoon and evening. He was wearing an inconspicuous black polo shirt as well as a signature Superman-style ‘do. Other fans spotted Amy Adams at Ferndale’s Imperial on Saturday night, some were even seated next to her at the restaurant’s communal benches. Adams reportedly was slightly annoyed that patrons continuously asked for her photo, but she smiled while cell phones snapped images nonetheless. The Zach Snyder film the two are starring in together is currently filming in Birmingham. Ben Affleck, who plays Batman, has been spotted around town with his wife Jennifer Garner recently as well. The closed movie set is under intense security and Brett Callwood attempted to infiltrate the filming last month, but was forced to give up his camera’s memory card, lest he make off with telling photos.

    The post Henry Cavill and Amy Adams spotted at Pig & Whiskey appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Last Blasts of Summer

It's natural, bay-bee

Jazz great J.C. Heard: A reminiscence of sorts

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A

J.C. Heard, a drummer grinning.

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More about J.C. Heard
  • J.C. was with the Cab Calloway Big Band when they performed in the movie Stormy Weather. Here J.C. introduces 'Jumpin' Jive,' a feature for the band and the tap-dancing Nicholas Brothers. Watch the video here
  • See Art Kane's famous 1958 photograph and a list of the musicians in it at harlem.org
  • Rehearsals and preparations in 1988 for what was to have been the biggest show to date for J.C. Heard, his band, Detroit musical associates and guests like Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach and Ahmad Jamal. J.C. died shortly before the show, which became a memorial blowout. Check it out here

I was reading a Whitney Balliett omnibus one night (Collected Works: A Jazz Journal) when on Page 138 I ran into my old and much-missed friend J.C. Heard in 1940 drumming with Teddy Wilson's band, swinging "an exemplary mid-tempo blue" behind Lena Horne in the film short Boogie Woogie Dream. 

I wondered where else James Charles Heard might be hanging out in the pages. The index directed me to Page 176, where he was mentioned in the 1938 band of Benny Carter, apparently sharing drum duties with Max Roach. Page 611 was an indexical misdirect. But I caught up with J.C. again on Pages 652 (on the roster for 1944-1946 Blue Note sessions) and 637 (among drummers who, in rapid succession, were fired from or quit the temperamental Benny Goodman's organization). 

He last appeared on Page 819 in a discussion of the ultimate jazz group picture, Art Kane's 1958 shoot for Esquire. Balliett categorized the 57 guys who showed up, filled the stairs to a Harlem brownstone and spilled onto the sidewalk: megastars, future stars, Ellingtonians, Basieites, etc. Along with guys like Milt Hinton, Hank Jones and Stuff Smith, Heard was one of the "indispensable journeymen."

So, I put on an old VHS of A Great Day in Harlem, the award-winning 1995 film about the photo that occasioned Balliett's discussion. It played in the background while I hunted for J.C. in my library. 

In To Be or Not to Bop, Dizzy Gillespie's autobiographical collage, there's a hilarious account of Diz and Heard's overlapping time in the Cab Calloway band. Seems that when Calloway was deep in his ballads on stage, Diz and trombonist Tyree Glenn liked to pass an imaginary football from one side of the brass section to the other; accenting the catch, J.C. would "hit a little bomb on the bass drum — bomm — and the audience would crack up." A befuddled Calloway would wonder what was going on behind his back, but he could never spin 'round fast enough to catch the culprits. All this culminated in the night that Diz — falsely accused of smacking Cab from behind with a spitball during his act — would scuffle with Cab and knife him in the thigh. And, of course, Heard was there then, just as, by his account elsewhere, he was at a bar 40 years later when a well-liquored Cab dropped his drawers for a likewise juiced Diz to make the point that bygones were bygones, but that a scar was forever.

 

There were more index citings.

In Jazz; A History of the New York Scene, Heard is with Coleman Hawkins on the top-selling jazz album of 1946. In the memoirs of New Orleans guitarist Danny Barker, Barker and Heard were among the older guys in the studio to support the upstart bop-innovator Charlie Parker on one of his first sessions. But first they killed time while their junkie genius sat around "looking into space, sweating ... waiting for the man to come with something."

There were reflections of Heard the drummer: "That fine drummer, J.C. Heard," opined scholar Guther Schuller in The Swing Era. Trumpeter Buck Clayton, in Drummin' Men: The Heartbeat of Jazz, called his Basie bandmate Papa Jo Jones "the perfect drummer ... [who] could execute anything heard or had in his mind." To Clayton, J.C. was "the only one who truly played like Jo. Most of the others just didn't think they could ever play like Jo Jones, so they just didn't even try."

In another book, pianist Mary Lou Williams put J.C. alongside Art Blakey as one of the players "who seem to have been born bopping. [Heard] played so much drums when he was with Teddy Wilson's great band that they had to hold him back in order to get a solid beat going."

Meanwhile, on the screen, J.C. passed through the crowd in front of the Harlem brownstone on that immortalized summer day in 1958. When Kane's shutter snapped, J.C.'s head was partially obscured by that of Roy Eldridge, who had turned his head to see Dizzy Gillespie cracking wise, laughing with his tongue unfurled like a sheep dog. Gerry Mulligan, Lester Young, Rex Stewart ... they're all standing together on the right edge of the frame.

But there was a better look at J.C. in action when I searched YouTube and found him with Calloway in scenes from the movie Stormy Weather. Sitting tall at his drums, grin stretching his face taut, he introduces the tune "Jumpin' Jive" with seven furious seconds: madly punctuated rolls on the snare, a volley of high-and-higher-velocity unison thumps on snare and floor-tom, quick splash of cymbal accompanied by a snap of the head — that cues the whole band to charge in and ride his rhythm. 

 

A lot of us have been thinking about J.C. of late, with this year's jazz festival featuring the first reunion of his last major project, a bebop-oriented Detroit big band of mostly young players that J.C. led for several years before his death in 1988. There'll be a tribute to J.C. in the official festival booklet by Jim Gallert and Lars Bjorn; the big band's musical director Walt Szymanski, Heard's son, Eric, and Gallert will discuss J.C.'s life and career in a Jazz Talk Tent session.

All this J.C. remembrance sent me down to a basement file cabinet where I pulled out the yellowing transcript of an interview with J.C. from around 1980, the first of our many meetings. 

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