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Callaloo 25.1 (2002) 321-337

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Nathaniel Mackey's Bedouin Hornbook
An Annotated Discography of Specific Musical References

A. Sarah Hreha and Scott Hreha

To begin, we would like to clarify exactly what is meant by specific musical references: this discography covers each musical reference in Bedouin Hornbook in which both an artist and a song title are given. Without these limitations, the project would have been at best unmanageable, if not impossible (after all, how many versions of "Body and Soul" are there?). After collecting all of these specific references except Jair Rodrigues' "Vai Meu Samba," we proceeded to reread the novel aloud, stopping to listen to the music as each piece was mentioned. The resultant discussions have been reformatted into what you see here. The following references are grouped by the letter (note?) in which they appear; page numbers are omitted in order to avoid confusion between the multiple editions of the novel.

Many thanks, first of all, to Maria "You have to read this" Damon for thrusting Bedouin Hornbook on Sarah at the Café of the Americas (summer 1998) and planting the seeds of this project. Thanks also to German Huélamo of Madrid for a copy of the hard-to-find "Anta Oumri" and to Pete Gianakopolous of Chicago for a copy of the long-out-of-print "Lost Generation." Praises as well to Mike Rohrer of Minneapolis for access to his extensive music collection, without which we'd never have been able to pull this discography together. Last but not least, interested readers may want to consult Callaloo's special issue dedicated to Nathaniel Mackey (Callaloo 23.3, Spring 2000, edited by Paul Naylor) for further examples and analyses of his work.

Varying from the obscure to the well known, these pieces as a whole sketch out the tapestry of sound attributed to the novel's Mystic Horn Society. Taken individually, however, they each contribute to an intertextual jigsaw puzzle that weaves Mackey's epistolary monologues into a half-conceived, half-divined future signifying system--within which ambiguity, puns and secondary (or tertiary) meanings predominate. Neither an accompaniment nor aside, the music is instead a fundamental element in the cosmological fusion of the novel's many, varied threads.


"Cousin Mary" (J. Coltrane); Four For Trane / Archie Shepp (Impulse 218) 08/10/64. Archie Shepp (tenor sax) / John Tchicai (alto sax) / Alan Shorter (trumpet) / Roswell Rudd (trombone) / Reggie Workman (bass) / Charles Moffett (drums). [End Page 321]

On a purely musical level, the playing of Archie Shepp's rendition of Coltrane's "Cousin Mary" on a set of plumbing fixtures could be seen as a commentary on Shepp's particularly abrasive tone, in that the sound he gets from his saxophone doesn't necessarily sound like what a tenor saxophone is conventionally thought of as producing (not to mention the fairly obvious similarities between pipes and the individual pieces of the saxophone). But as it is "Cousin Mary" that comes out of N.'s 'instrument' in place of the intended "Naima" (both pieces were written by Coltrane as tributes to important women in his life), Mackey foreshadows one of the novel's central themes: the male birthing of woman/music/extended kin/self. The way in which N. places himself in the middle of the juxtaposition between Wilson Harris' concept of 'phantom limb' and the ritualistic idea of 'couvade'--a missing part of the self, versus the mimicking of the intrinsically other--sets the tone of gender ambiguity for the novel, as well as drawing attention to N.'s inability to be sure of exactly what it is that he's doing.


"Streams" (C. Taylor); Dark To Themselves / The Cecil Taylor Unit (Enja R2-79638) 06/18/76. Cecil Taylor (piano) / Raphé Malik (trumpet) / Jimmy Lyons (alto sax) / David S. Ware (tenor sax) / Marc Edwards (drums).

"Stardust" (M. Parish / H. Carmichael); This Is Jazz #1 / Louis Armstrong (Columbia/Legacy 64613) 11/03/31. Louis Armstrong (trumpet, vocals) / Zilner Randolph (trumpet) / Preston Jackson (trombone) / Lester Boone (clarinet...


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