Tag Archives: Avalon

Dud, Fud, and Perfectionism

I hope anyone still reading this blog is doing well. I wanted to share this recollection (that I found interesting) here in case you had not seen it elsewhere.

Dudley Fosdick recalls arranger and reed player Fud Livingston, as quoted in George W. Kay’s profile of Fosdick in The Indianapolis Jazz Club’s winter 1964 issue of Jazz Notes (which originally appeared in the July 1958 issue of Jazz Journal of London):

In case the image does not come through, here is a transcript:

“I remember [Livingston’s] ‘Avalon’ chorus, which was terrific in conception but in execution was a disappointment to him. It was a few days before we were scheduled to record at Brunswick that Fud, Miff [Mole] and I wrote the arrangement—it was the tune that Fud chose to showcase his ‘great work of art,’ the Fud Livingston chorus that future generations would rave over in awestruck reverence. To assure absolute command of every note of his solo, Fud wrote down the entire clarinet passage and memorized it note for note by rote method. At the studio, we tacked [sic] ‘Avalon’ with all the precision of a typical well-drilled [Red] Nichols unit. The ensemble work in the first chorus clicked smoothly. Then ‘fidgety’ Fud took off on his stratosphere flight, in complete command of the situation as he sped along the path of his memorized solo. Midway through his chorus, things began to happen. Conception began to forge ahead of execution. Soon Fud found himself playing ‘off the elbow’ as he charged down the homestretch, like a rider clutching the reins of a runaway steed. Fud wheezed and squeaked down to the last, desperate note, and finished a complete nervous wreck.”

And here is the record referred to by Fosdick:

If that’s what execution falling behind conceptions sounds like, I’ll take it!

Ben Pollack’s Reed Section c. 1927: Benny Goodman, Fud Livingston, and Gil Rodin.
Tagged , , , , ,