John Handy
(I only want to be the world's best
saxophone player, he said on one Aquarius birthday)

I'm inviting only women to my birthday party,
John said, in ‘76
He'd grown sick of men,
especially men in the band,
especially men who were drummers in the band.
I knew john before his first big recording,
"LIVE at Monterey Jazz!"
He almost lost that first big gig
by a hair he squeaked through
His band was breaking up,
not a damn
thing
he could do about it!
The young drummer from Canada
consistently grabbed the limelight
John was royally pissed off.
But not mad enough, crazy enough to give up
his chance for fame! " Dig it, man,"
he would say, " we got our big gig, this is it,
Our record will make a million, ain't it what we
worked' for, man, don't blow it,
Be Cool!"

But what finally enraged his Aquarius ego
was Carnegie Hall
a different drummer this time,
just a ‘hired hand’
sneaked in last minute,
no time to undo the damage,
sets up his drums,
in the CENTER of the stage
John told me: "It ruined the Carnegie concert -
furthermore, from now on
I'm putting together
an all woman band."
And that's exactly what he did.

In later years
I knew he was healed
From the sickness of men in the band
when I heard him hook up with big Ed
on the keyboard
the two of them, dynamite
then you add Faye Kelly, you got
glycerin and angels,
music from Heaven!

The first time I heard Faye Carole, solo,
I was with Odia, my singer friend,
who after one song, said,
All this time,
I could have been putting my gospel into jazz!
Faye walked on the stage, sassy,
"get down girl!" tall, beautiful,
and barefoot!
throwing gospel smack dab in the middle of jazz
You have singers
sing gospel and call it jazz
you got gospel singers who sing jazz
with a sprinkling of gospel
but you never heard gospel and jazz interthighed
like a man and a woman
till you hear Faye sing,
and funky?
She closes the show
with Frankie and Johnny!
Brought the house down. I mean dooooooown
Faye with Ed Kelly and John on the sax?
Made John look good!

But what healed my friend, Handy
from the sickness of men playin in his band
especially, the drummers
was hooking up with Ali Akbar Khan

They played music till dawn
restin' the soul in a spiritual bag.
He sweat that one out all the way. Phew!
His great young drummer from Canada
kept grabbing the limelight
and John was royally pissed off.
But not mad enough or crazy enough to want to
pass up his chance for fame! " Man, dig it, man,"
he would say, " we got our big gig, this is it,
the record'll make a million, ain't it what we
been workin' for, don't you cats blow it,
Be Cool"
But what finally outraged his Aquarius ego
was the night he played Carnegie Hall
And a different drummer this time,
upstaged him,
sneaked in last minute,
so's there was no time to undo the damage,
sets up his drums,
in the center of the stage
John said: "It ruined the Carnegie concert" -
furthermore, from now on
I'm puttin' together
an all woman band.
And that's exactly what he did.
In later years
I knew he was healed
From the sickness of men in the band
when I heard him hook up with big Ed
on the keyboard
the two of them, dynamite
but add Faye Kelly an' you got
glycerin and angels,
music from Heaven!

Let me tell you 'bout Faye,
When my buddy, Odia, and I first heard her
Odia said with her eye widening, huge, when
she said something particularly striking,
"In Atlantic City singing jazz for the first
time on a bill with Billy Ecskstein,
I could have been putting my gospel
straight out of my childhood store front churches of Watts
into jazz!

Faye walked on the stage, sassy,
"get down girl!" we said, tall and beautiful,
she came out
barefoot on the stage at Julia Morgan
threw gospel smack dab in the middle of jazz
like nobody's biz - oh you have singers
sing gospel and call it jazz
you got gospel singers who sing jazz
with a sprinkling of gospel
but you never heard gospel and jazz
interthighed like a man and a woman
till you hear Faye
She closes the show
singin' the hell out of Frankie and Johnny.
brought the house down. I mean dooooooown.
Faye, Big Ed Kelly, and John were GOOD!

But I think what healed my friend, Handy
from the sickness of men playin in his band
especially, the drummers playin' in his band
was when he hooked up with Ali Akbar Khan
and they played music all night long
restin' the soul, everything in a spiritual bag,
Playin' non-stop, that inwardly contemplating
universal beautiful music (you check your ego at the door)
At dawn the audience, glazed eyes,
walked out of the room with a smile on their face.
John on the Sax, Ali on the Sitar
and the audience
on cloud 9
completely stoned out of their minds.


© Dorothy Jesse Beagle

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