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Bebop Spoken There

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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Book review: Dave Frishberg - My Dear Departed Past

Dave Frishberg admits he's a nostalgia buff. Come to think of it, aren't we all? The musicians, the sportsmen, the movies, the books we love are much better than today's crop. Not always true, of course, it's just that we haven't had time to grow and love the present compared to the years we've dwelt upon our past memories and, anyway tomorrow, today becomes the past.
At 84, Dave Frishberg has a lot of memories yet, despite his fondness for the past, as a pianist, singer, songwriter, composer, he can still hold his head high today.
My Dear Departed Past contains a host of memories such as learning boogie-woogie from his brother, reading Mezzrow's Really the Blues, the gradual progression from playing with high school dance bands to bigger names. To playing with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, and Count Basie. Difficulties with Anita O'Day and Benny Goodman and much more.
The book is studded with anecdotes. Some sad, some revealing and a lot which are very funny indeed.
As a composer/lyricist, few can compare. To me, Frishberg is the modern equivalent of W.S.Gilbert, Noel Coward, Cole Porter, Larry Hart although his own favourite is Frank Loesser and he recorded a memorable duo album with Rebecca Kilgore of Loesser's songs. The first song he showed to a publisher was Peel me a Grape, later recorded by Diana Krall.
Just entertain me
Champagne me
Best way to cheer me
Cashmere me
Best way to smell me
Chanel me
I'm getting hungry
Peel me a grape.
© Dave Frishberg
Blossom Dearie was another who drew from Frishberg's seemingly infinite songbook with two of the best-known being I'm Hip and My Attorney Bernie.  My personal favourite is Dear Bix. I first heard this sung and played by Roly Veitch at the old Side Café on Newcastle Quayside - maybe Roly will play it again for me at a gig sometime. One of Roly's favourite sax players is the late Richie Kamuca and I've heard Richie sing this and, would you believe it? He sounds very much like Roly!
Not surprisingly, anyone who can write lyrics like Dave Frishberg does is going to write one helluva book!
To describe a book as being unputdownable is a well-worn cliché but it is one that is so appropriate here that I'll go along with the cliché - then I'll start reading the book again.
Lance.
Dave Frishberg: My Dear Departed Past is published by Backbeat Books (an Imprint of Hal Leonard).

1 comment :

Patti D (on F/b) said...

I just listened to Dear Bix on YT - Richie Kamuca, with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown. I knew I'd be in for a treat ........ what a gorgeous number ....... sublime!

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