It’s Claude Thornhill’s birthday today. Friend of the blog and jazz radio hipster extraordinaire David Brent Johnson just turned out a Thornhill centenary episode on Night Lights, although David points out that it has just been discovered that Thornhill was actually born in 1908 (in Terre Haute Indiana, no less). David and I just had breakfast this morning and DBJ pointed out that Thornhill is one of those guys who jazz buffs always like to call “unjustly neglected.” Ah, the trope of unjust neglect — where would we be without you? But jazz arrangers really do get the shaft — no-one but the hardcore jazz geeks remember who they are or what they did, even though they are often responsible for what we remember about our favorite albums. Case in point, Thornhill had as much to do with the much-mythologized “Birth of the Cool” sound as Gil Evans did.
- not working
- aimless socialization and BSing
- listening to jazz or some canonically hip substitute. Dylan is good, but maybe a bit obvious. How about Bruckner? Don’t be afraid to try new things on Birth Of The Cool Day! To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, hip is whatever you can get away with.
- consumption of drugs — well, caffeine, anyway. Cigarettes recommended only for historical reconstructionists and original-instrument fetishists. Mormons and Straight-Edgers can substitute chocolate.
The dress code for Birth Of The Cool Day is naturally a rather complicated matter. DBJ wore a Lester Young T-shirt, which is cool, while I wore my Stanford T-shirt, which is uncool, but I was hanging out with DBJ, so it was OK. You have to kind of play these things by ear. Hang out with someone cooler than yourself and watch what they do.