Tuesday, March 22, 2005
What's this cat's story?. . . continued.
After giving my latest CD purchase, 405 South by jazz pianist John Wood, a couple of close listenings, I set about googling to see if I could learn anything more about him than was in the liner notes for the disc.
What I quickly discovered on the net is that John Wood IS famous, well sort of. But for reasons having nothing to do with his musical artistry. Click here for a story about him in a recent issue of the L.A. Weekly. There, one learns that Wood has become locally known for standing outside of L.A.s largest record store, Amoeba, and selling "Drum Machines Have No Soul" bumper stickers. I'd spotted them around town the past few months, not just on cars, but on walls, drum kits and wondered about it. Perhaps the best I'd seen since "Warning: I Brake for Hallucinations" and "Gato Barbieri Go Home."
But although one gets thousands of hits on Google for John Wood and his bumper sticker, there is precious little else about him---next to nil about the music---on the net.
The writer of the "Weekly" piece portrays him as a more-or-less, old and embittered hipster dufus, and not at all as the dazzling and inventive jazz pianist that he is. Wood is definitely on a worthwhile mission from the gods of music, but apparently almost all who come in contact with Wood in front of Amoeba regard him as some kind of flake.
Through my friend John Gilbert I have been able to gain some additional info about John Wood from a widely-respected Southern California jazz musician. Here's what he wrote:
"John Wood rebelled and became a sensitive jazz pianist, and a good one. He is also a writer for Ring Magazine (he is a boxing authority). He did a bunch of great albums on his own. Always used the best guys including Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw. He has a beautiful Bill Evans type touch, writes great melodic tunes, and includes jazz standards. He has sold 14,000 "Drum Machines Have No Soul" bumper stickers. The man is on a mission, what can I say?"
Very little question, based on the evidence of 405 South, that Wood has devoted his artistic life to the living, breathing PULSE of music. In other words, feh! on the dread Wurlitzer Sideman and every other artificial timekeeping device that's followed in its wake.
I have just learned that Wood will soon be making a rare appearance at a local L.A. jazz club. News of it will be posted here, and I'll be sure to be there with bells one and my "DMHNS" bumper sticker proudly slapped across my forehead.
Note: 405 South is still available from amazon.com.
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Posted by Bill Reed at 7:30 PM