"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

In a Sentimental Mood


I visited my mother’s family in Belgium the summer I turned twelve and went to the seaside with my uncle, his girl and a bunch of their friends, all in their early twenties.  We were sitting on the boardwalk one grey, typically overcast afternoon and heard somebody playing the saxophone.  My uncle’s best friend, Beniot, a Germanic-looking guy with short, blond hair and round glasses that made him look like Thomas Dolby, began to cry.  He told me that the saxophone, the jazz saxophone, always made him cry.

Tonight I heard a guy playing the trumpet on the uptown platform of the 7th Avenue and thought about Beniot.  Dude was playing In a Sentimental Mood, slowly and beautifully, when I passed him by.  The sound of his horn made me want to cry.  But it wasn’t just that.  It was what he was playing.  That song, a standard that is almost unbearably melancholy when played right.  For close to a minute the sound drifted down the platform uniterrupted before being drowned-out by a passing downtown express train. 

Then my train arrived and I couldn’t hear the trumpet anymore.  But I could in my mind’s eye and I still felt like crying as I got on the train to come home.


This is my favorite version.  The Duke with John Coltrane.

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1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 31, 2008 12:01 am

Beautiful track from two genius musicians...for those who don't know, John Coltrane "could" be said to be the jazz world's Lou Gehrig...a gentle giant who brought both ferocious power (listen to "Impressions" or later albums like "Live in Japan) and surprising grace (the track Alex provided, or Trane's album with singer Johnny Hartman)....and just ilke Lou, the gods took Trane from the world way too soon, in 1967 at the age of 41....there's nothing else in music quite like a single-sitting session listening to "A Love Supreme", transcendent beauty and perfection that "perhaps" is only matched by a Mariano cutter...

2 thelarmis   ~  Oct 31, 2008 12:16 am

very eloquently put, jazz tokyo! it really is amazing how many deep emotions music can conjour up.

in case cliff is reading here, i'd like to reply to an earlier comment from today... that's cool you played the mercury lounge - great place! i was there 13 months ago to see my best friends' a cappella group perform. i've seen other shows there, as well but i don't think i've played there myself. wow, i couldn't imagine going 5 years without playing a gig! hell, most years, i gig 5 times/week! i have 5 this week. i was saying i haven't gigged up in NYC in 5 years...

hot stove got lit quick this year. i miss games already...

3 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Oct 31, 2008 1:00 am

Well nearly all our gigs were in NYC, so I found a similarity there. You know, the sad thing is, I never got my voice in good enough shape to do five gigs a week. We did one quick self-financed tour (which is actually when I started blogging) and I blew my voice out after the second gig by unwittingly sleeping in an heavily air conditioned apartment that night. I got it back to "good enough for rock" levels, but I never built my voice up enough, never really maximized my ability. Same is true to an even greater degree in my failure to really commit to an instrument. I can sit in on guitar and played enough that I can go months without picking it up and not lose what modest abilities I have (though I do lose my calluses), but I never got close to maximizing my potential as a musician. I think part of the problem is that I'm not a songwriter. I never had the muse. I think if I wrote songs I'd have the passion to want to play them and to learn how to express myself better (that's the passion I have as a writer), but as a guy who just wanted to get on stage and rock out and entertain, I never properly committed to being a musician.

4 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Oct 31, 2008 1:05 am

Hey, Al, is that an actual photo of the cat from the subway, or did you just do a hell of a job of finding an appropriate photo?

5 thelarmis   ~  Oct 31, 2008 1:18 am

[3] oh yeah, it's definitely a different animal being a singer on tour. as far as guitar and songwriting, i guess it depends on the individual. the guitar player i work with in most of my gig situations is not a songwriter in the least. doesn't even come up with riffs. i work w/ other guitar players who are mostly riff writers. the great thing about music and your instruments is that it is always there, no matter what...

do you write lyrics? i actually take lyric writing incredibly seriously. just finished another poem about 2 hours ago. i don't come up w/ chords or melodies to it - just words...

btw, there ain't nothin' wrong with just gettin' on stage and rockin' out!!! : )

i actually got an email tonight from my buddy who teaches at the Collective. i'm gonna reply and ask him about the possibility of you and me getting into a room there for a bit or even if we can hang in the lobby on a drumpad. if not, i'll email you and we'll try and meet up somewhere in the city or something. we'll bring stix! i'd like to get in there to meet up with my drummer buddy, too. you work in the city, right? ooh, i understand if you don't wanna answer that in this forum.

turns out i'm flying in next friday. if i had these plans waaaay earlier, i'd have made sure i got Joe Jackson tickets. oh well, at least i saw the 1st leg of this tour 6 months ago...

6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Oct 31, 2008 1:32 am

Yeah, let's not burden the comments with our planning. Hit me with an email. But no, actually, I left my job a year ago and am a full-time freelancer (editor/writer etc.) now. I work from home in NJ for the most part.

I've written some lyrics. I was just getting good when the band broke up, don'tcha know. As I writer, I took pride in improving in that area and lament the loss of opportunity to foster that growth as a lyricist. Of course, I was crushed when the band broke up, period. I don't know if I'll ever get to do it again on a regular basis (most likely not), but I'll sit in with a friend's band every very rare now and again. It's fun to be able to pull that trick out of my hat ("wait a second, did the baseball writer guy just go on stage and sing the shit out of that song?"). I'm full of surprises.

7 thelarmis   ~  Oct 31, 2008 1:40 am

awesome, all the way around! yes, we'll definitely plan away from the banter. just put an email in about possibly getting time at the Collective. you freelancing will definitely help w/ scheduling! i know what it's like to be a freelancer...

i also know what it's like when the band breaks up. i'm still not over the penn state band being over. we put it back together a handful of times here in Atl and i still work closely w/ the bassist on loads of projects, but that band is defunct and it sucks, to put it bluntly. we all wrote lyrics, but the singer was such a brilliant genius at it, that i actually stopped writing words for a coupla years and concentrated on drum parts.

somewhat recently, you started a post/thread about there not being too many rock n roll songs about baseball. i can't think of a better cat to write a R'nR Baseball anthem than you! it'll get you back into every mode - playing guitar, drums, composing songs, writing lyrics. you know it'll blow away that Nils Lofgren piece about Yankee Stadium that, i believe, spawned that post...!

8 thelarmis   ~  Oct 31, 2008 1:46 am

oh, btw, i learned how to adjust my firefox browser and updated one of the tabs to open to the new Banter address every time i log online! : )

9 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Oct 31, 2008 2:32 am

Go, thelarmis, you techno wiz!

You know, whenever I see some crappy "rock song" about baseball I think about writing one myself, but I know it will be just as crappy. You know who should do one: Jeff Tweedy. But the point of my post was that baseball simply doesn't rock. A rock song about baseball is like a ballet about demolition derby, except the latter might actually be funny. Baseball works best with those big-band swing numbers. Maybe a folk tune. I could see a ballad. Even funk (all that stop-start motion and percussive hits: the pitch, the swing, the catch, the throw, the tag). But baseball is a game of calm and contemplation. Of strategy and precision. Baseball could be jazz or even symphonic music, but it's just not rock.

10 Benjamin Kabak   ~  Oct 31, 2008 2:44 am

Fantastic choice, Mr. Belth. Back in the day when I used to play the tenor, I always wanted to be able to play In A Sentimental Mood like this, and obviously, I never could. This whole album is sublime really.

11 thelarmis   ~  Oct 31, 2008 2:55 am

[9] well, i had a little help! i called a close music buddy of mine who is a computer genius for a living. he takes care of all my tech stuff for me. he walked me thru it and it was super simple! i told him my adventures of html from earlier this afternoon and he was proud! he, too, said the numbers linking on posts is difficult...

i'm not familiar w/ jeff tweedy or brendan benson, but i know of dillinger escape plan...

i have a copy of the cool Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio show about Baseball. lots of old timey artists and styles. i can burn you a copy if you'd like...

12 cqmurphy   ~  Oct 31, 2008 9:12 am

ok - ditto on thoughts on coltrane. though i am guessing we could come up with a better analogy than gherig as he was also a late bloomer (all of his great work is post-30).

i was in cliff's aforementioned band and it makes me happy to see him talk about it. i miss cliff's vocals often.

13 Just Fair   ~  Oct 31, 2008 9:23 am

I read an cool article in the Washigton Post last year. They picked some world famouse violinist and a
asked him to play at one of the subway stations for an hour. They secretly videotaped him for the
hour and only 1 person stopped to listen to him for more that a a few seconds. This is a guy that people
pay hundreds of dollars to see in a huge auditorium. Did anyone else catch that?

14 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 31, 2008 9:29 am

Cliff, that was just an image I found that I thought might work...Glad it had a good effect...

15 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Oct 31, 2008 10:25 am

11) Jeff Tweedy's the singer/songwriter in Wilco. Brendan Benson was a power pop recording artist playing places like the Mercury Lounge until he formed the Raconteurs with Jack White (of the White Stripes). Now he's big-time.

16 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 31, 2008 11:18 am

True story:
As a kid growing up in Great Neck, I was a very innocent, sheltered boy. As a teen in the 60s/70s, my life consisted of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Actually, trying to get sex, trying to get drugs, and desparate to play rick'n'roll.

A good friend, who was a very average (actually, really poor compared to everyone else I played with) rhythm guitarist invited me to join his band. He said they had a studio in NYC (wow... skyscrapers and everything) where I could keep my drums. Since I had a huge double bass kit (couldn't really play double bass, but they looked BITCHIN'!) that I wouldn't have to haul, pack up and break down after every practice, I eagerly agreed.

So three nights a week, Phil picked me up in his '39 Pontiac (top speed, 55 mph) and we schlepped into the City to practice. Our 'studio' was in an old, run down, isolated, 12 story building, that basically rented all it's beat up rooms to bands. We may have been 1 of a dozen bands that practiced there, and it's possible, somewhere in the building, there were other white guys (although I doubt any other Jews).

Hey! And my friend was the lead, and only, guitarist. The band wasn't that bad... if we were playing in Duluth, Minn. We may not have been the worst band gigging in NYC. but we were certainly the worst in that building.

Our catch: We had a well connected manager, and our bassist/singer (actually named 'Joe'), could do a DEAD-ON Joe Cocker, at a time when Joe and Leon were tearing it up. We played top 40 (surprise!), a full 25% of which were Cocker tunes. So we practiced 3 nights a week and waited for the gigs to pour in.

One night we come in, and we're told by our manager to pack up our stuff, because we got a gig playing the opening of a new show at THE VILLAGE GATE! (I mean, our manager was good!!!) The friggin Village Gate! So we pack up and haul ass to the 'Gate'. In reality, the band they actually hired was a No-show, the manager of the Gate knew our manager, and we were the only band they could find that would play at a moments notice.

We get to the gate and the joint is a-jumpin! We set up and open with our very best Cocker tune (The Letter), but the crowd is restless, and did not seem aware that we had started playing. So bing frustrated, Joe calls for the 2nd tune to be another Cocker tune (when we usually try to spead the good stuff out). About half way through the tune, the crowd starts to go wild. I mean WILD! Actually CHEERING! And they are looking RIGHT AT ME (or maybe my bitchin' kit). We must have gotten through, and were obviously on our way to a record contract. And I.... well I must be the star, because EVERYONE is looking right in my direction. Even the hot chicks!

The place was just nuts! There were actually reporters and photographers there. Hey... maybe my band was better then I thought. MAYBE I WAS BETTER THEN I THOUGHT! So, we play a 6 tune set, and then take our break. I get a cola from the bar, and go to sit at a table across from my kit, where I can admire my Oyster Blue Luds.

And the joint is just rockin'.... really insane.... even though we are not playing now. So I sits down to gaze lovingly at me drums... and what do I see? Directly behind and above my kit is a large movie screen. And what's playing on the screen? A georgeous, hugh titted women getting a serious DP!

I must have died and gone to heaven! I simply don't have the vocabulary to tell you guys what I was going through. Engulfed in my 2 greatest loves at the same time! I believe I had my first true out-of-body experience that night.

So after some indeterminate amount of time (a minute? an hour? a week?) we are called up to play our 2nd and final set (short gig... wonder why?). I will simply say, even for a talented guy like myself, it's hard to sit on a drum thrown and play, when your head is turned 180 degrees and there is absolutely no blood in the upper half of my body. Possibly my first pain/pleasure experience also.

So.... after the finest night of my life, Phil and I drive back to Long Island. Phil drops me off at my apt building at about 2 AM. To my surprise, I meet my friend Curtis in the elevator. He see me, his face lights up, and he yells.....
LARRY! LARRY! I saw you on CBS news tonight! Playing the drums! You were on the freakin' news at the Village Gate! I mean.... the camera was right ON YOU!

Bottom line? The next day, watching in news, I find out that the previous night, at the Village Gate in New York City, was the premiere opening of:
The New York Erotic Film Festival.
And somehow.... I was there.
(top THAT thealarmis!)

17 thelarmis   ~  Oct 31, 2008 1:22 pm

[16] that's a crazy story OYF! ah, i'm really NOT competitive at all in this sorta realm, so i can't top your story...

i couldn't imagine lugging around (or playing) a full double bass drumkit. double pedals are the way to go! double bass is really hard to play and i've slacked on it for a few years now. i'll get it back one of these days. i usually just work it up when i need to do it for a recording, anymore...

[15] thanks for the 411 on those guys. i don't listen to any of those bands. i think i may have had to teach a White Stripes song. students bring in all kindsa stuff to learn - that's the only way i even ever hear of these new groups and such!

[12] very cool. hope you still play the music! : )

18 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Oct 31, 2008 2:29 pm

Murphy is the only member of our group who still does play out.

Tweedy's been around for . . . heck almost 20 years dating back to the beginning of Uncle Tupelo, he's not exactly a "new" artist.

19 Diane Firstman   ~  Oct 31, 2008 3:49 pm


Here's the article and accompanying video, and I do remember reading it when it was first published:


20 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Oct 31, 2008 4:29 pm

Thanks for that link, Diane, and to Just Fair for prompting it. A fantastic piece.

21 thelarmis   ~  Oct 31, 2008 8:52 pm

[18] oh, my bad! i've certainly heard of Wilco & Uncle Tupelo, but i'm not familiar with their specific names or their music.

that's cool murphy still plays out!

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