Monday, February 16, 2009

The nut, at his nuttiest

It took me till this morning for that goofy migraine finally to wear off. Two days of feeling out of it! Last night because I was so wiped out all I wanted to do was go to sleep. But alas! Howard chose last night to get into bed early when I did and he brought his I-Phone with him.

You can watch things on this I-Phone and Howard was watching YouTube. "Oscar Levant!" I remember him gloating, into my ear. "The Concerto in F!" Now, I love Gershwin's Concerto in F. Leonard Pennario used to play the heck out of it. This one recording he did of it was fantastic. Ask lounge sensation Guy Boleri. Guy told me, "It changed my life."

Howard is at work now so I cannot ask him but my guess is that the clip I was listening to is this. They interrupt so you can hear Walter Damrosch announcing that Gershwin has died.

It is great but imagine it blasting in your ear when you want to go to sleep! That was the situation last night. Well, Howard didn't know about my discomfort so I do not blame him. Also it is nice to be married to someone who listens to Oscar Levant instead of Britney Spears' "Womanizer." That is for sure.

That is a picture of a young Oscar Levant up above. I used to say his name "Le-VAHNT" until Jeff Simon at The Buffalo News finally snapped me out of it. He said: "For heaven's sake, Mary, he was a New York City Jew. You say it 'Le-VANT,'" he said with a big flat Buffalo A. So that is how I say it now.

I loved what Ward wrote the other day on the Leonard Pennario blog when we were discussing hypochondriac pianists, a subject we like to return to now and then. "Two words. Oscar Levant," Ward wrote. Ha, ha!

Probably Levant is more lovable in retrospect, seen in hindsight, than he was at the time, when you were actually around him. But in retrospect, he sure is funny.

I got to review this book on Oscar Levant by Sam Kashner called "A Talent for Genius." One thing that cracked me up was that Levant was from Pittsburgh and, Kashner wrote: "He maintained a lifelong dread of Pittsburgh."

Jerry Sullivan, the great sports columnist at The Buffalo News, lent me a book by Oscar Levant which, alas, I have not yet returned. But I know where it is! It is next to the bed. Jerry Sullivan says that Levant was a blogger before blogging existed. He is right!

Another Levant fan is Jackie Jocko, the lounge pianist down at the Hyatt we are always going to see. "Who is going to replace Oscar Levant? Who is going to replace Fred Astaire?" Jocko wondered aloud, pessimistically, late one night.

Nobody will. What a great character.

Just not someone you want to listen to when you are trying to fall asleep.

1 comment:

  1. I identify with characters like Levant and the German musician Hans Von Bulow (there should be an umlaut over the "u", but I can't seem to type it here), who was so exploited by the geniuses he surrounded himself with that critic Norman LeBrecht described him in print as a "rape victim". Like Levant, Bulow possessed a withering wit and the self-knowledge that he was talented, but not in the genius class.

    It makes one wonder about genetic makeup and/or environment that will unfairly cripple a talent that deserved more than it got.

    There I go being pompous again!