Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Early Autumn

Fall cometh at last ... in fact, it will officially arrive at 11:09 PM this evening, when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, from north to south; this marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere (which happens to be my home town), and I intend to wallow in the glories of the season: apple pies, pumpkin pies, roast turkey (with its varied, edible accoutrements), cool nights and frosty mornings, hot chocolate, football games and less and less daylight. This latter phenomenon tends to enervate some people, my husband included. For myself, there is no difficulty adjusting to conditions. I just spend more time in the kitchen and/or reading a good book.*

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On August 14, 2010, my most esteemed colleague Abbey Lincoln died in New York City after a lengthy illness. She and I were acquaintances but not close friends. I very much admired the songs she composed, and found her somewhat gritty-textured voice most appealing. The first time I saw her was at The Village Vanguard with Max Roach, during the "black power" period. She wore her hair close-cropped which, like Carmen McRae's in the late years, never obscured either ladies' dazzling facial beauty. She raised her fist defiantly more than once during the set which intimidated me to the extent that I couldn't muster the courage to approach her between sets to express my admiration. I told her of this story when we shared a dressing room at Carnegie Hall some years ago. She gave me a wide grin and put her arm around my shoulder but said nothing. Whenever I hear Abbey sing "Throw It Away" with the lines " ... so keep your hand wide open and let the sunshine through" I always think of her ..... and always with great fondness.
I was also quite gratified when she told me she knew and enjoyed my work, and I will forever regret that she will no longer beguile us in person or on recordings. R.I.P. dear Abbey.

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* Last fine book I read: "Solar" by Ian McEwan, and just recently, a typically quirky short story by Alan Bennett which appears in the September 9, 2010, issue of London Review Of Books. Titled "The Greening Of Mrs. Donaldson", she is a widow who takes in a young college-age couple as boarders. When they have trouble paying the rent, they invite Mrs. D to sit close by the bed to observe them making love, as if this were some sort of equivalent compensation. Go London Review of Books and search the archives under Alan Bennett. I think you can read the piece even if you are not a subscriber. Let me know if I'm wrong.

I'm into the kitchen to bake the first of the season's apple pies.

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2 comments:

Jay Livingston said...

Just discovered your blog. If you're looking for good reading and you haven't already read it, you must read But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer, and not just because it's about jazz greats, but for the quality of the writing.

Sloane said...

Dear Dr. Livingston: Thank you for writing. On the basis of your enthusiastic endorsement, I will certainly explore Mr. Dyer's book at first opportunity.
-Carol Sloane