created a psychological ambiance whichnconditioned the American mind in a perplexing,nobscure manner—people maynhave been aware of the surrealism ofnthose movies, yet they somehow believednin their potential to engender reality, tonreflect some hazy truths. In other words,na mystique was accepted as both reverienand recipe for living; a placebo turnednout to be a prescription for culturalnnorms.nThus, a movie has been created, ornperhaps concocted, that dabbles in anrather ambitious literary proposition.nTragedy as man’s rendevous with fate,nan echo of The Great Gats by’s simplicitynof human destinies, is mixed here (notntoo convincingly) with Brechtian cyni­nMUSICnJazz Records: Rowles & Morenby Doug RamseynFor at least 30 years, Jimmy Rowles hasnplayed piano essentially the same way henplays it now. His style is elliptical, fullbodied,nspare, sly, harmonically astonishing,nfuturistic, full of historicalnreferences. He sometimes seems to havenstopped in midsolo to ponder his nextnmove, only to plunge or meander backninto his improvisation in some unexpectedndirection. He is likely to stride andnshout in the manner of the Harlem pianongiants of the 20’s and 30’s. But he maynalso open up the solo, allowing his rightnhand the freedom to mince about whilenhis left finds new ways of fragmentingnthe rhythm. His quotes come from annastounding variety of sources, but mostnfrequently from obscure songs thatnthrived briefly on Broadway, in moviesnor on the hit parade. He is gloriouslynunpredictable.nMr. Ramsey is a jazz critic who lives innSan Francisco.n40inChronicles of Culturencism about the human condition andnwith a pictorial symbolism of the highestncaliber. There are splashes of cheapnanachronism: the sexual etiquette of then70’s seems to be in open conflict withnthat of the 30’s. But, all in all, the story ofnan unprepossessing sheet-music salesman—whonlives by the catechism of Hollywoodnhits, who may or may not believenin them but constantly tries to introducenthem into his own life, who loves to makenlove but also seduces and abuses womennand turns a virginal country teacher into anfallen woman, and who finally is killednby the junction of platitudinous coincidences—amountsnto a rewarding visualncollage of cultural metaphors from then1930’s and Americaat that time. DnIt has always been like that withnRowles, although his surprise quotientnmay be slightly higher these days. Suddenly,nhowever, he has been discovered:nhe is everywhere on jazz records—as anleader, as a sideman, as a solo performer.nPerhaps his time has come. Rowles is anmore advanced pianist than Duke Ellingtonnwould ever have claimed to be.nBut there are similarities between thentwo that make Rowles a stunning interpreternof the compositions of both Ellingtonnand Strayhorn. Comparisonsndrawn from his splendid new Columbianalbum “Jimmy Rowles Plays Duke Ellingtonnand Billy Strayhorn” (ColumbianFC-37639) make two things clear. At fewnpoints in his playing does he directlynquote or borrow from either Ellingtonnthe pianist or Ellington the composer.nAnd yet in each piece Rowles perfectlyncaptures the Ellington/Strayhorn spirit.nHis interpretation of Mercer Ellington’sn”Jumpin’ Punkins” mirrorsnDuke’s orchestral arrangement, but it isnan invention, not a transcription. Hisnnn”Take the A Train” paraphrases thenStrayhorn melody, borrows from the celebratednRay Nance trumpet solo, alludesnto the famous out-chorus—and fs purenRowles. Somehow, Rowles is able tonsummon the nuances of trombonist JuannTizol on Ellington’s “Lost in Meditation”nas well as the sinuous feeling of altonsaxophonist Johnny Hodges on Strayhorn’snexotic “Isfahan.” This album,nadorned only by Rowles’s technique,ntaste, imagination and iconoclasm, is anmilestone in his career and an evocativentribute to two of America’s great musicalnfigures.nIn “Music’s the Only Thing That’s onnMy Mind” (Progressive Records 7009)nRowles is joined by George Mraz, one ofnthe bright stars among bassists since hisnarrival in the United States from Czechoslovakianin the late 60’s. Mraz solos withnclarity and grace on many of the piecesnand works effectively behind Rowlesnthroughout.nRowles sings four songs on this album.nHis voice is pleasantly rough, and he usesnthat musicianly phrasing that seems toncome naturally to improvisers. Rowles isnone of the world’s leading collectors ofnobscure songs. “You Started Something,”nby Bing Crosby’s one-time singingnpartner Al Rinker, is a forgotten remnantnof 1930’s popular culture, andnGeorge Brown’s “I Never Loved Anyone”ndeserved a better fate than its consignmentnto the Potter’s Field of music.nRowles and tenor saxophonist ZootnSims have produced “I Wish I WerenTwins” (Pablo 2310-868), in which Simsnperforms a version of “Georgia on MynMind” invested with distinctive plaintivcncss.nOver the years Sims’s tone hasndeepened, even roughened, but he hasnnever lost the dancing, rhythmic propertiesnthat made him stand out from thenaowd of Lester Young disciples in then1940’s.nSusannah McCorkle concentrates ohntwo great lyricists in “Over the Rainbow:nThe Songs of E.Y. ‘Yip’ Harburg” (InnernCity IC-1131) and “The Songs ofnJohnny Mercer” (Inner City IC-1101).nMiss McCorkle takes a straightforwardn