In 1965 it was Charlie Mingus in the Auckland Town Hall...
A few lines later, he:
struck a chord that might have tameshiwaried
a pile of glass bricks
and left the stage for a hat change…
Later that night, the narrator is in St Stephens Ave, Parnell, and speaks to the legendary jazz bassist, who lifts his hat before replying.
This is odd, because as far as I can tell Charles Mingus never played in New Zealand – he certainly didn’t in 1965 because according to Gene Santoro’s excellent biography Myself When I Am Real: the life and music of Charles Mingus he didn’t leave the US at all that year.
On the other hand, the legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk – who was known for his hats – did play here in 1965. I know this because I saw him perform at the Tauranga Girls’ College hall, the poor bastard, and I know that after the Auckland concert he was in Parnell because my friend Bernard Brown was at a party in St George’s Bay Rd, the lucky bastard, where Monk played Debussy and also duets with a local concert pianist – David Galbraith, I think. There were, Bernard says, “jazz cigarettes” in the room. Fancy that.
Still, the Auckland Town Hall concert in January 1976 which features in the poem’s second half, did happen. I was there and it was great because it was Frank Zappa and he played a lot of guitar and, as always, he had a really good drummer: this time it was Terry Bozzio. You can hear what the band sounded like on the double-CD FZ:OZ recorded in Sydney on the same tour. It features Norman Gunston on harmonica, as a result of this interview Gunston did with Zappa.
YouTube has more Gunston for younger viewers: I am sure that Sacha Baron-Cohen would acknowledge that Ali G/Borat didn’t come out of nowhere. Where the hell Gunston came from is anybody’s guess. Some sort of Paul Holmes/Paul Henry timewarp thing?