Rhyme Cellar, v. 3 : “Mack the Knife” (1966)

Rhyme Cellar, Verse the Third … vive esprit, à votre santé — enjoi :

Mack the Knife” — Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington (Ella & Duke at The Côte D’Azur, 1967)

Writers : Marc Blitzstein, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill · · Producer : Norman Granz

Artist : Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington
Vintage : 1966
Album : Ella & Duke at The Côte D’Azur
Label : Verve
Region : Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, France
Varietal / Blend : Jazz / Big Band, Swing

:: Primer ::

:: This one … blessings … so, Mack the Knife — as a standard, as a canon, as a whole anthology — has an omnibus lineage unto said illustrious self (which i just recently discovered (in a likely only tip-of-the-iceberg capacity), but wow: wholly worth the research, time well spent: 11/10, would recommend) … anyhaps, onward

primer, in the immediate, ella and duke’s (featuring said latter’s orchestral repertoire) 1966 live iteration from the jazz à juan festival … another discovery patently product of that bittersweet niche of millennial digital denizen existence heretofore referenced as p2p culture … (so, many, songs … so, many, servers … so much musical suchness — whew)

i don’t remember the exact “hows” or “whens” of said introductory acquaintance (although, according to a source file … one of the whens was circa november 2010 … onward) … but, as always, i remember it felt — full, stop: i felt it in my marrow … whatever “it” was, connected at the intuitive … but, to elaborate on the sensory, it felt eclectic electric vintage verve … oracular spectacular … like playing hooky at a speakeasy while wisdom herself procures life lessons no conventional classroom could fathom to instill … infinite eternal weathered jovial …

needless to say, said iteration established itself as instant canon … while i had heard of, i had never actually heard any other version (until browsing back catalogues during a recent research session) … so this spin was (and still remains) my standard — so to speak

fast forward, hmm, three année, roundabout, from said genesis discovery to circa spring 2013, when ms. lauryn hill released the hear-it-to-believe “neurotic society (compulsory mix)” — in and of itself a whole rosetta stone of pop industry deep ciphering — and amidst a bevy of cutlass supreme oratory, a precisely so elocution piqued:

They’ve been doing this since before Bobby Darin sang ‘Mack the Knife,’ Before James Dean’s car did a jackknife … Perhaps it’s because they lack life

brought the note d’azur to the mnemonic fore, and whatever “it” is/was, clicked once more … the metanarrative materialized

on the first spin, way back when, i had no clue of who mack was — in reality, historically, macheath, the threepenny, etc. — but at the genesis it felt pied piper … it felt svengali … it felt pop / entertainment industrial … mack felt gambit agency … sleight of limelit bandstand … and then, a la lauryn, it clicked … but / and in immediate retrospect, my makeshift standard from ‘66 registered “renaissance” (as opposed to the consensus standard’s murder ballad, or hit parade with a cautionary twist take, per se) … ella’s narration felt triumphant in a “reclaim the moritat to relinquish mortality” sort of way … i don’t know, i can’t quite explain …

but, without rambling further, that’s the roundabout primer … another poem in the storied songbook of secret linguistics … another canon in the personal archives of pop life crucible tunes … onward ::

:: On the Palette/Palate · Profile ::

:: on the front : the wake … countess of the côte cases the joint … the preamble … full bodied divination … higher learning, lyrically speaking, with the elder stateswoman of jazz … ella ellington embodied in a blink … “well balanced and tonally rich, with good bass definition and an impressive dynamic bounce” … keynote speech over ivory scales in the genre’d scope of live swing — a francais … brushes with limber percussion …

rewind remind, the once dagger-cloaked pearly whites now enter full-focus frame-center stage right … macheath’s once-ensconced brought to light … hushed husk builds beneath smoky tones … swing catalytic … inertia engaged … the metanarrative shifts from murder ballad hit parade pivot to something of a revival … something paschal … something master’s house dismantling — something demolition golden derby wrecking … something whiskey sour new fashioned …

the mid-palatte : locomotive gears up for a proper juggernaut … modulation recalibration set in motion … on a sidewalk, on a sunday morning … in the immediate wake of just that, lady fitz leads the service funerary, on the pall-bearing notes of brass tones … lies a body, oozing life … and in this nexus moment, at the crest of echelon summit … we taste the long last linger of a past foil’s prevail … someone’s sneakin’, round that corner — could it be, could it be, could it be? onward …

ella, ellington & co. classically trained to undo incumbent standardization … owning the rules in order to break regal … that train of familiar has left the station … ms. fitzgerald brings fugitive to the fore, to unsheathe macheath’s hancock knife … go to town, where all that was dealt in darkness is defined in light, paint it red in redemption revolver … vantage the scope … the crowd, the mob, the echoes, and speakeasy roar … a cake-eaters’ chorus emerges on the riverbank … settling the score … waving in a return of the mack …

Look out there, Bobby Darin — think we’re both singin’ the same song … Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Bobby Darin, and Louis Armstrong, they made a record, oooooh! a record of this song … and now Ella, and her other fellas, are makin’ a wreck, a wreck, such a wreck of that same ol’ song … yes, yes, yes, yes we sung and … yes, yes, yes, yes we swung and … we swung ol’ Mack, we swung ol’ Mackey down … for you people here, at the jazz festival … we’re gonna sing, we’re gonna swing, we’re gonna add one more chorus …

the finish : the revival … roll call jubilation station … it’s gospel … it’s church … it’s riviera water and wine … it’s holy ghost sanctified … as ella exhumes the lineage, it feels alchemical … it feels lifted, gifted, and risen … and in its purest form, the immortalizing renascence of live jazz, emerges … piquing in distillation — the pulpit and the people … preaching in unison, canonizing names, levitating modulations, dancing on a switchblade’s grave … and then, elocution, articulation, pronunciation, words — in and of their own practical sensibility — cease to exist, eclipsed by the ineffable expression of signature human energy … ella as the instrument … the voice as the vessel and vocabulary … and then, gravity … and then, the cyclical return to standard lyrical

one more chorus, victory cirque levity, the coup de grâce … vivire ::

:: Pairings ::

:: Scarlet billows oozing life … pairing plating here in the scope of secret linguistic … always the crucible crew … always the hymnal of human alchemy … this list, captures, within a capacity, said crucible crew in the key of human electricity, vintage vibrational soundstage soul … timeless tempos of transmutation … can’t go under it, can’t go over it, gotta go through it, through it … but make it recorded tunage … thus :

· ·

Rhyme Cellar : Mack the Knife (Ella Ellington, Live ‘66) : Pair’d Playlist :: · “Satisfaction” (Live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam) – Aretha Franklin · · “Mack the Knife” (Live at The Côte D’Azur) – Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington · · “Proud Mary” (Live on The Ed Sullivan Show) – Tina Turner Revue · · “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)” – Ms. Lauryn Hill · · “Trouble Man” (Live In Montreux) – Marvin Gaye · “Summertime” (Live in Berlin) – Ella Fitzgerald & The Tee Carson Trio · · “October Song” (Live from T In The Park) – Amy Winehouse ·

· ·

… there’s a connective narrative thread somewhere within said paired playlistic … aligning featured stellar entities — aretha, ella, duke, tina, ms. lauryn, marvin, tee carson, amy — in said momentary, in some concerted constellation collective … something, rogue revelry … something naturally cycling infinite seasons … something, metamorphosic … something so deeply rooted in a spirit beyond severance … as always, though, something inherently ineffable …

that said, in so many abstruse words, broadly considered: here, live music’s transcendental nature resides somewhere in its improvisational capacity to break industrial conformity … rules were made to be broken … standards were made to be canonized by prophet saints … to go both places … to be present in polarity … to project pulse and periphery in precipice simultaneity … is the intentional existence of music artists … to live rhymes as tales to be told … to manifest the traverse as actualized axiomatic, to eclipse any ersatz reality dramatized to be sold … the human electricity of live music … the immediate conversation between the niche community and their creatrix muses …

this … list of peculiar particular pairings … within a capacity … speaks to said dialect of an otherwise secret linguistic ::

:: Impressions ::

:: First lady of song’s everlasting imprint on a certain assailant’s serenade … it’s just so … alive … everything about this rendition feels revival … the premise alone … a murder ballad — but make it jazz scherzando … ella herself contextualized elements of its legacy best, in said record’s own homeland … back when she first covered the tune, live in berlin …

We’d like to do something for you now.
We haven’t heard a girl sing it.
And since it’s so popular,
we’d like to try and do it for you.
We hope we remember all the words

So, you’ve heard it
You won’t recognize it
It’s a surprise hit
This tune, called Mack The Knife

And so we leave you, in Berlin town
We’ve swung old Mack in town
For the Darin fans,
And for the Louis Armstrong fans, too
We told you look out, look out, look out
Old Macheath’s back in town

the unassuming jack knife curve … and in those moments of sheer zeitgeist translation … pop goes the gospel … the matriarch of macheath in that moment … birthed in berlin, and ella the first lady, rebirthed in sonic mater, a requiem’s own antidote: life in lyrical … in france, it felt opus olio … for the fans, for the festival, for the kids, for the culture … for whom, “sometimes, the function of the music of early sunday morning and late saturday night is virtually the same” … here, jazz is embodied … it is to live forever in the improvisation of shared experience … the perpetual crucible of the indefatigable human spirit … the elan vital of necessary articulation of immediate presence … the creative impulse … the catalytic compulsion to communicate in order to maintain communion through human connection … to sing of salvation amidst apparent quietus … the revelation in transcendent surrender to universal accord …

There are some who are in darkness, And the others are in light … And you see the ones in brightness, Those in darkness drop from sight.

to live and vibe in the juxtapose … the intention in existence for the sake of the akashic, for the sake of the sound stage as platform pantheonic … just * duke of ellington voice * “beautiful, baby” … first and lasting impressions, effectually: vive ella! … ::

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