Be-Bopping with Supersax

by on June 27, 2023 · 0 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I was
listening to Supersax,
superbly relaxed,
scatting along with the brilliantly constructed tones
they blow through their saxophones,
like I was Lambert Hendricks and Ross
and the Manhattan Transfer
all wrapped up in one,
their songs
ferrying me
deep into a 1940’s

which happens to be a time

when musical tastes

were forming in my mind

and, when they

laid down jazz great Charlies Parker’s

“Parkers Mood”

with a sugary sweet and

warm and mellow

jazz infused attitude,

a vision rose out of my memory

of a dude I’ll dub Bebop

because I don’t recall his name

but being all caught up in

Supersax, on this day,

I could see him making his way

down 10th Avenue,

the neighborhood of my boyhood,

in lock-step with the mood

of the music I was listening to,

in a Zoot Suit

underneath a wide brimmed hat

with a feather attached,

wearing shiny pointed shoes that could blind you

in the sun

or stab you in the back,

and a lengthy coat

with exaggerated lapels

and padded shoulders

that made him

look like he belonged in the NFL,

and trousers that seemed mountain high at the waist

and the width of an ocean at the legs,

tightly cuffed and pegged

and, even though

he was attired in what seemed like yards of clothes,

he pranced and danced

and moved along the road

as smooth as bamboo wrapped in satin,

tipping his hat to anyone whose eyes

looked in his direction,

improvising an array of jazz riffs

with each rhythmic step

he took.

You might hear Duke’s

“Take the A Train,

complete with refrains,

or the Nat King Cole Trios’

“Straighten up and Fly Right”

or something by Coltrane,

or Basie’s

“Jumping at the Woodside,”

a tribute to the ball

had by all

at the historic hotel in Harlem

referenced in the title of the song,

people partying all night long

and then laying their heads down

after doing the town

right where they were

if they were from out of town,

due to no choice of their own,

because Jim Crow

was no stranger to the Big Apple –

but the expressions on Bebop’s face

as he made his way,

doing his thing

in a swinging way,

said to anyone who’s heart

and soul was listening,

that, yeah, there can be

sadness and pain

to bear,

but we have to maintain

our dignity

and our joy

for our very survival.


And when the

melodic and harmonious sounds

Supersax had been laying down

had ceased playing

I felt rather upbeat,

with it,

like my burdens and cares

had lightened

a bit.


What would we do
without it?

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