Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Serendipity and pedantry

Yesterday, I asked one of those 'does anyone know...' questions, trying to locate a half-remembered artifact.

There's another one of these that I've been meaning to ask for a while. In the mid-80s, someone I was working with did a compilation tape for me. Sonny Rollins on one side of a C60, Thelonious Monk on the other. He didn't bother with the track-listing though.

I played it 'til it tangled and the stand-out track, for me, was Rollins' lovely drawling take on Mack The Knife. It remains one of my favourite pieces of music and I've been desperate to get my hands on it again. For years, I've trawled the record bins looking for it without any luck, and when The-Bloke-Behind-The-Counter at Mole Jazz told me - with the authority that TBBTCs always muster - "Sonny Rollins has never recorded a track (or did he say 'side'?) called Mack The Knife", I gave up. I decided that a different artist had crept on to the C60 to confuse me. For some reason, I never Googled it.

And, I've always meant to get my hands on Saxophone Colossus - a gap in my collection. I've walked to the checkout with it a few times since the early 1990s (including at least once in Mole Jazz) only to change my mind and postpone the purchase in favour of something else. The main reason I didn't buy it was because I always said to myself that I'd get the Rollins LP with Mack The Knife on it instead when I found it.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I'd given up on ever finding it. So, yesterday, I downloaded Saxophone Colossus from E-Music. The last-but-one track is called Moritat, and it is the version of Mack The Knife that I've been looking for since about 1987.

The lesson. It is unthinkable that TBBTC doesn't know what he's talking about. The only suitable explanation is that he is a pedant.

Moritat is better than I remembered it.


Anonymous said...


Sam said...

Hi, my name is Sam Gale Rosen, I'm a producer for Radio Open Source, a nationally syndicated public radio program based in Boston.

I read and enjoyed your story about tracking down Mack the Knife by Sonny Rollins. We're having him on our show tonight (Sonny, not Mack), and we like to get ideas for questions from interesting bloggers. Do you have any burning questions that you've always wanted to ask Mr. Rollins?

If you do, please contribute to our comment thread here (http://www.radioopensource.org/sonny-rollins-in-conversation/), and we'll scoop up your ideas and hopefully use them on the show. Just drop me an email (sam radioopensource org) if you have any questions or problems registering on the site. Thanks!