One of the charming things about late 1940’s bebop was the limited palette with which the composer had to express their ideas. What I mean by that is this: say you’re Tadd Dameron in 1947 and you’re writing compositions interpreting the world around you. You just happen to live in NYC and your mode of expression is bebop.
So the compositions you write will use the instrumentation of the day – a quartet, quintet, or sextet. For the composition in question today, “The Chase,” Tadd used a six piece band featuring the great Fats Navarro on trumpet. He wrote this tune after watching two squirrels chase each other in Central Park on a fall day – this, of course, is what artists do – they find inspiration in the everyday experience of living.
I don’t know what made me think of this particular tune – maybe just seeing the same phenomenon outside my window? I guess it triggered a memory of listening to this recording so many years ago. See, there was a point in my life when I was young where I became absolutely obsessed with jazz, particularly from post WWII to the mid-sixties or so. I mean really obsessed – I not only intimately knew the playing styles of pretty much everyone who recorded in that era, I could tell you who their influences were.
Anyway, for whatever reason, this beautiful memory just came to me. And with it, the reminder that artist’s use whatever tools are available to express themselves, processing life and showing the world their unique perspective on what it means to be alive.
We all have a unique story to tell, whether we think so or not. And we should neither denigrate it or be afraid to express it. It is our unique contribution, and it is important.