Eat Me Baby I'm a Jellybean
In 1955 I was sweet seventeen, living in Australia & profoundly into bebop. My heroes were Thelonius Sphere Monk, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Mingus & of course Bird, Diz & Miles. Maybe for a true black culture purist it was politically incorrect but I also enjoyed Dave Brubeck & Paul Desmond, Gerry Mulligan and Stan Kenton. And then there were also the early vocal scat singers like Roy Kraal & Jackie Cain and the outrageous Woody Herman Big Band.
One day in a Melbourne second hand records box I discovered a strange album that was to be a future psychic signpost pointing to a luminous green planet called Gong. It was a Sun Ra Cosmick Arkestra album.
Every night I drifted off to sleep to the sound of Kim Bonython's late jazz program on ABC radio & it was on one of these shows that I first heard of a singer named Bobby Troupe. His album sported arrangements for four assorted saxophones- a gorgeous thick sound -quite radical for mid fifties ears. It was not until much later that I realised he had penned the famed hit: 'Route 66'.
Bobby had also rewritten the words of the songs to suit himself, a true free spirit & worthy role model. I was particularly amused by his version of I CAN'T GET STARTED & it stayed in my mind for years. T'was only natural that, 42 years later, I should in turn rewrite his version to suit myself & include it amongst my tributes to my musical mentors.
IN 1997 I was a nifty fifty nine & passing thru a summery LA on my way to a Gong tour of Europe, Japan, USA & UK. Our US agent Shawn Ahearn had set up a gig for his Japanese jazz singer wife Sami Kaneda at Steamer's jazz cafe and she and her band (which included ex Miles Davis drummer: Ndugu Chancler & a spectacular russian classical pianist turned jazzman: Eugene Maslov) were running hot!
Spontaneously invited by Sami to sit in for a couple of songs I found an instant rapport with the band. I flashed that if ever I was to do an album singing jazz standards as a tribute to the music that had put me onto my life path, this had to be the band to do it with. So I called my friend & designer Peter Hartl in Austria & asked if he would lend me the loot to leap the first hurdle. He was sweetly cool. Go!
So two days later we met at the Stagg Street studios at Van Nuys and with a second Austrian, the renown jazz producer: Franz Putsch at the controls, magic immediately happened. By the end of the afternoon we had the whole album down.
Several vocals were finished then but others would be rewritten & thus resung. Space was allotted for Didier Malherbe's sax parts to be added at the end of the US Gong tour. The results were my delight. As I caught my plane for London I was over the bananaluna…
Two months later there was spare evening during the Gong tour for Didier's sax parts but no money to pay the studio. To my profound relief, Dr Wolf Thandoy the eminent motorologist lent us the lolly bless his parts. Didier (whose musical roots were exactly parallel to mine) was in his elemental. The final step was to add the altered lyrics & mix as I returned thru LA towards Oz. After much passionate negotiation, Jonny Greene of GAS furnished the final finance in the form of japanese yen.
Oo scooby dooby & all of a suddenly I was a goldtop yen jellybean! Voila! Ze lounge wizard was born again!