From the Gate to Gennyland to Mersey
By ice rivers
We were coming from Geneseo in upstate New York. The Campus was alive with music. Folk, rock, blues and jazz. Evrey style had its zealots. I liked em all. I was eclectic. I could hang with the rockers, the folkies, the Dylan Baez and Cohen fans. We only had one jazz group on campus the Aldoujo trio. Off campus I had caught Dave Brubeck and his band taking five at Rochester's pride and joy....the George Eastman Theater...the home of our own philharmonic built by George Eastman who with Kodak had brought photography to the common man.
Playboy magazine used to complile an annual jazz all-star team. I was familiar with their names and getting familiar with their sounds even while being overwhelmed by the Liverpool sound (the Beatles) the Tottenham sound (Dave Clark Five) the Mersey Sound (Gerry and the Pacemakers) the Motown sound (Supremes) as well as various hottenannys, shindigs and hullabaloos.
After getting acquainted with the Village, Bob and I started looking for musical entertainment. We didn't have to go far. The Village Gate was only a few steps from our apartment. We stopped in three consecutive nights and caught Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie.
The Gate was not overcrowded. There was no admittance fee only a cover charge which I believe was $10. Beers cost an amazing $5 as compared to .35 for a Genny in Gennyland. For the price of two Michelobs ( a premium beer at the time) a night, I got an undergrad degree in jazz.
Gerry, Charlie and Dizzy were perennial Playboy jazz All stars. Each of them amazing in their own way.
I appreciated the spontaneity, the virtuosity and the unstructured collaboration of these legend and their supporting groups. I particularly recall the gigantic Charley Mingus sleeping in a chair on stage before his band came out, woke him up and started playing. Charley attempt to introduce the members of his group. He stumbled over their names, finally mumbled "to hell with that" and they broke into thier show, blowing everybody away at the tightness of their invention.
While we were waiting for Charly to wake up, four young guys came strutting into thr gate. They ordered their beers. I got the feeling it was their first time at the Gate whereas I was a regular jazzbow having been to the two previous shows.
I recognized one of the guys immediately.
In New York for Ed Sullivan.
Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying.
Ferry Cross the Mersey.
How Do You Do
I Like it.
Girl on a Swing.
Gerry and the guys must have been in their early twenties. They were in the Gate to catch some jazz. I appreciated their fandom. Pretty sure Charlie Mingus didn't give two shits. Neither did my travelling companion Bob.
I wasn't about to burst over to their table and make a big deal out of their presence. I was jazz cool at the moment and stayed that way throughout Charlie's performance. At least three times, however, I made direct eye contact with Gerry as we winked at one another after a tasty improvised solo by one of the band.
I liked the guy.
Much different from Charlie.
Gerry had the look of a guy who had just broken through to the other side. He threw me some of that vibe mixed in with a subtle "if I did it, you can do it" vibe.
The show ended. The week ended. Soon we were back at Geneseo, telling Bob's two roomates about Gerry and the Gate.
Both of Bob's roomates were musicians. We eventually started a band. Two of our staple songs, songs that we did every time that we played; Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying and Ferry Cross the Mersey.
Ferry Cross the Mersey reminded me of my first impressions of Greenwich Village (as it has today). The song also symbolizes passages of all kinds including the passage from life to death.
Yesterday, I found out that Gerry Marsden had passed away at the age of 78.
I like to think that he crossed that Mersey and wound up in a land that he loved when he passed away.
Thanks for the vibes and the memory GM.
Rest in Peace.