Dutch Young Genever
The boy clutched it like a brown phallus between his legs. He had a
small goatee, a starting dark Afro-hairdo and Freud-like glasses with
a golden frame. He was about 20 years old and drunk. 'What do you think
of use of electronics?', he asked the black man with the slick mustache,
who sat next to him on the side of the road in front of the TV-camera,
in broken English. The man looked at him. 'Drunk talk, what to do with
it', he thought. But in a close crowd of 3000 white festival visitors,
their skin color was their connection. 'Oh, I dont know, it depends
on whats done with it', he answered willingly but with reservation.
'I think its shit, man! Electronics is bullshit'.
It was clear by his accent that he had to be a West-Indies Londoner.
He put the jug to his mouth and was swaying dangerously. 'If you use
the instrument totally, you dont need electronics'. He got the
feeling he had announced a deep truth and repeated the sentence a few
times. . 'If you use the instrument totally, you dont need electronics'.
It had been a long day and the big moment was almost there. Johnny Griffin
and Eddy 'Lockjaw' Davis, Horace Parlan, Clark Terry, of course they
were brothers, but they didnt make real black music. On stage
now was only a small bold Dutchman, who made unnecessary jokes that
were no interest to anybody about the fact the he, as VPRO-radioman
was announcer at a AVRO-TV festival. 'I have a message for mister Andrew
Cyrille', he shouted in the microphone. 'If mister Andrew Cyrille is
here around, please come to the castle'.
His English was much worse than that of the boy with the Afro. The boy
turned to his neighbor again. 'Do you know Andrew Cyrille? Andrew Cyrille
is to Cecil Taylor what Elvin Jones was to John Coltrane'. His eyes
were sad. 'You know, I was eleven years when Coltrane died'. The man
looked at him, not understanding. 'I was eleven years when Coltrane
died'. There was desperation in his voice and he almost cried. Why couldnt
he find the words to make clear what he meant? To be a black 16 year
old in Holland and to find out that you all time hero died, when you
were an 11-year old en new nothing about it. He took another drink from
the brown jug and almost fell over. The man grabbed him and pulled him
He saw Andrew Cyrille busy on stage setting up his drums. He braced
himself. 'Cecile Taylor and Norris Jones and Andrew Cyrille are three
of the great musicians of the African
..'. The man next to him
now looked another way. 'Im going to piss. Shift, Im going
to piss and shit!' The boy tried to push himself up to jump on the floor,
but fell half down. He staggered and only just managed to grasp the
edge of the camera rails. Two Dutchmen who sat close by on a chair and
a fishing-stool, stood up and moved away a few meters, scared to get
their leisure-wear covered in puke. One man was chubby, with black hair
and glasses, the other gawky with a bold spot and a pot belly. They
both had a notebook and a ballpoint in their hands. Every once in a
while they turned around, disturbed, but concentrated on the stage where
Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Lyons appeared.
The pianist wore a little yellow hat, the alt-saxophonist a bizarre
pair of little white sunglasses. The boy had rested his head on the
camera-rails; his body hung down. An ugly girl forced her way to him
through the crowd. She wore a torn jeans-outfit and a white bracelet
with the initials JAC written on them with a fiber-tip pen. 'Whats
wrong with you?' she asked with a lisp accent. 'Im fainting',
the boy groaned. What was the use of talking Dutch if they couldnt
understand you? The JAC-girl resolutely grabbed him and waved to a colleague,
almost a child herself, but with nice long blond hair. They took the
boy in between them, tried to keep him straight and wanted to walk away
with him. But he resisted.
On stage, the Cecil Taylor Unit started to play. The boy jerked himself
loose and fell. The ugly girl sat down next to him. She put her arms
around him. The boy tried to embrace her, but was unconscious before
that. A solemn silence came over the festival grounds. One or two people
walked away, but the majority sat and listened in awe. The boy with
the Afro started to make kicking moves and fell flat with his face in
the mud. His golden glasses ended on the ground a few feet away. The
fat Dutchman with the black hair picked it up and gave it to the JAC-girls.
Why did he have so much trouble concentrating on the music?
The next day he was stated as the jazz-connoisseur the local newspaper,
but oh dear, that was long since untrue. His companion with the bold
spot looked at him fiercely. 'How does this performance compare to the
one in New York?' He woke up from his thoughts about the boy with the
Afro, the vague musical passion of his youth, the numerous infidelities
amongst his acquaintances and the piece he had to write for tomorrow.
'Well', he said carefully, 'in New York it started weaker and ended
in with much bigger climax. Here its more a one-level thing, an
average performance of Cecil Taylor, in other words, fine'. He looked
back. The ugly JAC-girl had finally succeeded in carrying away the Afro.
Her blond colleague sat down on the camera-rails. She held the brown
jug on her lap. While she took in the music of Cecil Taylor, she softly
stroke the neck of the bottle.
De Nieuwe Jazz, twintig interviews door Bert Vuijsje Bosch & Keuning
N.V., Baarn, 1978