Pearl Bailey’s Man

Pearl Bailey's ManOn Valentine’s Day, jazz drummer Louie Bellson died at age 84. When I saw this bit of news, it took me a moment but I soon remembered the name. Duke Ellington, no less, had once called Bellson “the world’s greatest musician.” However, Mr. Bellson’s music career was not the reason I remembered him.

Last year, I ran across a black-and-white photo of the iconic African American actress/singer Pearl Bailey smoking, and I said to myself, I didn’t know Pearl Bailey smoked. But then I read the caption below that picture, “Pearl Bailey Married Louie Bellson in 1952,” and quickly forgot her bad habit. For the next hour or so, I was consumed with finding out about this guy with the cigarette lighter locked in Pearl’s gaze. Who was this white man?


Fresh Prince Blues

Fresh Prince BluesIn the neo-beatnik classic Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller extols the virtues of the titular great American music (I’m referring to jazz itself, for those who don’t know what titular means) by saying that it, like life, doesn’t resolve.

I’m curious, then, about what he would feel about the latest Will Smith vehicle, Seven Pounds, for many of its qualities share a commonality with jazz. It’s mysterious, beautiful, enigmatic. And it, too, refuses to resolve.