textier: Johnny Răducanu a turnat. Now he sucks.

6 octombrie 2006

Johnny Răducanu a turnat. Now he sucks.



În Cotidianul de azi e publicată dezvăluirea referitoare la "sursa Rică", cea pe care criticul Peter Banyai, persoana urmărită, o identifică cu Johnny Răducanu. În anii '80, jazzmanul român, vădit fan al lui Charles Mingus (de la care copiază look-ul cu pălărie şi bărbuţă), alege să meargă pe urmele idolului său american şi lasă contrabasul pentru pian. Francheţea lui Banyai, care îi spune că "este un mult mai bun contrabasist decit pianist", îl înfurie pe Răducanu şi le strică prietenia. Tot cam pe atunci încetează şi notele informative...
Din reacţiile comentatorilor online, se vede că adevărata dezvăluire a articolului este cea referitoare la valoarea lui Johnny ca pianist.
O discuţie sinceră despre arta anevoie apreciată versus cabotinismul de necesitate poate începe sub auspicii bune. A nu se trece cu vederea "şerveţelele" lui Nichita Stănescu...
Un ciot de dezbatere în acest sens am iniţiat pe blogul HotNews, unde, pentru moderaţie, adaug aprecierii lui Johnny în calitate de contrabasist, elogiile cuvenite pentru toată activitatea de compozitor, aranjor şi valorificator al folclorului românesc.

29 Comments:

Anonymous fane said...

cind iliescu cistiga alegeri dupa alegeri, eu stateam si ma intrebam cum o sa ramina el in istorie, cum ar vrea el sau cum ar merita. si cu cit se straduia mai mult cu atit mi se parea ca era mai inconstient pentru ca eu chiar cred ca adevarul iese pina la urma la lumina oricit ar fi istoria facuta de cei care o scriu (si invers. si chiar asa a si fost, chiar si incomplet, si chiar mai devreme decit ma asteptam, ca eram sigur ca abia dupa moartea lui se va intimpla. pe cuvintul meu ca ma uitam la iliescu ca la circ, desi si pe spinarea mea isi face el echilibristica. si pentru mine a ramas un punct de referinta care m-a umplut de incredere si optimism. mai rau stau cu timpul, ca se pare ca ia cam mult timp in unele cazuri, dar dreptate tot se face. cu colaboratorii e clar ca lucrurile sint complicate, dar or sa se lamureasca ele, asa ca deocamdata eu refuz sa-i bag pe toti in aceeasi oala. iar daca maestrul raducanu e un pianist sau jazzist jalnic, asa o sa si ramina, adica nici macar nu o sa ramina in amintirea noastra. nu stiu cum se intimpla lucrurile astea, dar eu cred ca ce merita chiar ramine, ca servetelele sint biodegradabile si uite ca le-a venit si lor rindul, ca pentru mine e prima oara cind asist la demitizarea lor. iar 'cunoscatorii' in armonii, Thelonious Monk, swing si tot asa sint peste tot si parerea mea e ca nu merita sa discutam despre, cum zici tu, 'arta anevoie apreciata', daca la reactia lor te refereai. si ca sa-ti mai dau un exemplu sa fim optimisti ca lucrurile se schimba inspre normal, te asteptai sa apara atit de curind discutiile despre clicile intelectualilor nostri? nu ca ar iesi ceva din asta acum, ca doar ei se comenteaza intre ei, dar o sa vezi ca timpul le aranjeaza pe toate...

4:59 a.m.  
Blogger textier said...

da fane, dar politicienii se erodeaza mai repede...
cu ei e simplu: data viitoare nu-i mai voteaza lumea etc.
am adus vorba de stanescu, poet mare, imens in volumele din anii 60... interesant pina pe la mij. anilor 70... dubios spre penibil in ultima perioada a vietii.
ei bine, cita ipocrizie (daunatoare in fond posteritatii lui ns) nu intilnim INCA la fel de fel de suspinatori ai lui "nichitaaah"...
timpul le rezolva, da, dar cu pretul ca, in tot intervalul de aminare a rezolvarii, o gramada de oamni ajung sa se dezguste de ns/poezie/literatura rom...
idem jazz... citi nu urasc jazzul, doar pt. ca il identifica cu ceva ce nu este (dect aici in rom)?

3:50 p.m.  
Anonymous Banyai said...

2, 3 remarci, ce as fi dorit publica, fara succes.

Nu l-am identificat pe Johnny, decit in cercuri foarte restrinse, neavind probe.
Chiar cele din dosarul meu, arata nu un "Informator", ci un "dezinfomator" al Secu.
Nu am reusit sa public erata, nimic..
Pe de alta parte, suspiciunile, pe care nu am avut nici o data de gind sa le fac publice s-au intarit vazind reactia lui...

Am rezerve mari legate de "admiratia" fata de Mingus (favoritul meu, ) Era strict formala, superficiala,,,

Enfin, daca sinteti curios, tema asta, alta, legata

va stau la dispozitie, macar unii sa afle ce, cum a falsificat Cotidianul
banyai@cluj.astral.ro

1:31 a.m.  
Blogger textier said...

koszonom de intervenţie, banyai ur!
am să profit să vă mailuiesc asap.
cf. postul următor, idem hotnws blog: marea dezvăluire îl priveşte pe jr dpv artistic (mai puţin securistic): vezi commenturile din cotidianul. doar că ăsta a fost prilejul (din păcate)...
în ce priveşte nuanţele dintre info si dezinfo, mihăieş e mai tranşant în evz de ieri (prilejuit de aclaşi caz jr): orice dezinfo e tot info!
idem "cotidienii", cărora dv. le reproşaţi dezinformarea: pînă la urmă a fost şi informaţie preţioasă în art. lor (jr pianist kitsch etc.), doar că mai pitită printre altele.
desigur, copiere formală, maimuţăreală: măcar de ar fi jr un mingus şi prin ceea ce are SUB pălăriuţă. dar este/a fost un ray brown al balcanilor, ceea ce e f.f. mult pt. noi toţi care îl preţuim realmente!

11:13 a.m.  
Anonymous fane said...

citeva observatii: 1. politicienii nu se erodeaza asa de repede, vezi iliescu; iar popularitatea lui era mare chiar si cind nu a mai putut candida. da, intr-o lume normala lumea i-ar sanctiona nemavotindu-i. dar s-ar putea sa=i voteze in continuare pentru ca din doua rele o alegi pe cea mai putin rea (vezi vadim vs. iliescu). 2. e interesant ce crezi, ca oamenii se pot dezgusta de literatura, jazz etc din atita. eu zic ca au trecut vremurile cind vedeam mereu pastilele alea cu ns la tv cind zicea 'nu mor caii cind vor ciinii' de a prins asa de bine ca o auzi si acum. nu pot sa-mi imaginez ca identifica cineva azi poezia cu ns, jazzul cu jr si asa mai departe. doar daca nu face asta doamna profesoara de limba romana in scoala generala, ceea ce chiar ca iti taie cheful pina la maturitate de orice curiozitati poetice. eu, de exemplu, nici acum nu pot sa-i citesc pe sadoveanu si ion creanga. dar asta nu inseamna ca nu citesc. sa ca nu ma gindesc sa le dau o sansa. dar mai incolo, peste vreo 10 ani... dar nu cred ca trebuie sa iti faci probleme, lucrurile se schimba mai repede decit credem noi. 3. nu stiu, poate pentur ca sint prea departe de bucuresti, nu simt decit tristete fata de toata povestea asta cu informatorii. dar tristetea dlui banyai ca si a celor in pozitia d-lui care si-au vazut dosarul trebuie sa fie si mai mare.

9:28 p.m.  
Blogger textier said...

da, fane, ma faci sa cred ca paralela cu politicienii e falacioasa...
daca gasesti in rom. oameni politici cu o constiinta profesionala si civica macar comparabila cu cea a artistilor nostri de frunte, sa mi-i semnalezi si mie te rog...
in privinta lui iliescu, o sa ma autocitez cu un mai vechi refren al sarmalelor: ilici ilici uber alles!
imi pare bine ca nu te-ai dezgustat de jazz, dar crede-ma ca esti tu un caz fericit.
problema "profei de romana" necesita o discutie aparte.
am atins-o in treacat cnd cu scornelius-ul cu eminescu (vezi).
la creanga si sadoveanu vorbim deja de istoria receptarii. o s-o tratez si pe asta separat. am promis (pe just fingerprints) sa revin asupra lui creanga, pe care eu unul il pun "undv. foarte sus".
mai aproape de noi, jr si ns sint (pe o anumita parte a carierei/ operei lor)niste exponenti ai fandoselii/ imposturii institutionalizate. timpul rezolva multe, stiu. dar il rezolva prin noi, prin atitudinea noastra. sintem totusi o cultura prea mlastinoasa, prea stagnanta, daca tot asteptam (vorba unui cintec pe care nu stiu sigur cum sa-l receptez, cu gravitate sau cu ironie?) "sa ni se-ntimple ceva". pt. atitudinea asta meditativa, fatalista, vezi scornelius-ul cu miorita.

11:32 a.m.  
Anonymous fane said...

as scrie eu mai multe, dar am inceput sa ma simt cam prost sa ma tot dau in spectacol asa... eu vad printre rindurile tale de mai sus ca tu insuti esti cam fatalist... cu tot cu proteste... o sa ma mai gindesc si eu la ce ai scris... imi pare rau ca nu zic mai multe acum, sint pina peste urechi in neoliberalism:). revin

10:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonim said...

The Reinvention of Johnny Raducanu
Tom Smith
Director of Instrumental Music
Pfeiffer University
IAJE International Conference, New York, NY, Januarry 2004

Personal reinvention is a common practice in jazz. In earlier times, musicians routinely distorted personal resumes to advance an advantageous premise, or to right a real or imagined injustice. In certain instances, it was difficult to know where the legend ended and the real truth began. The most celebrated case of a jazz musician reinventing himself was probably trumpeter Willie Geary "Bunk" Johnson, a pioneering New Orleans musician, who harbored bitterness for being historically overlooked in favor of younger less talented performers. In the late 1930s, Johnson was guilty of sharing innumerable falsehoods with early jazz researcher Bill Russell in the latter's ground breaking anecdotal research document Jazzmen.1. Johnson's baseless anecdotal accounts of having performed with Buddy Bolden 2. created an "Orwellian styled" ripple effect, that for decades hindered accurate chronological accounts of Bolden and several of his contemporaries.3. To Johnson, historical truth was far less important than his own obsessive penchant for self- reinvention. At one time Johnson had been "a somebody," a musician who had garnered the admiration and respect of a great many jazz aficionados. When Russell rediscovered him, he had been relegated to humiliating manual labor in an obscure Louisiana rice paddy.4. For a time, historical reinvention gave Johnson the trappings of a better life. He was provided financial sustenance, and a return to the musical spotlight as a performer. More importantly, he was provided a forum to express his historical viewpoints from the vaunted perspective of jazz "mahatma" or senior statesman. It was only through the tenacity of future researchers that Johnson was revealed as the man he actually was; namely a person of some talent, but lacking the iconic sensibilities of a first tier musician.5. Still, even in light of indisputable evidence, many chroniclers chose to ignore the investigations of Donald Marquis and others, by remaining loyal to the long discredited Russell text. As late as 2001, writers like Bob Koester were still asserting that Johnson's statements in Jazzmen provided the necessary insights for sufficiently evaluating the musical skills of Bolden, when it was most probable that Johnson had never heard Bolden perform.6.

Despite the immense historical damage caused by Johnson, it paled in comparison to the reality coup staged by a highly ambitious Romanian musician, who artificially and single handedly reshaped the jazz legacy of an entire country. Imagine for a moment an enterprising individual understanding of western sensibilities, who while under the yolk of communism, uses the resources available to him to unrepentantly recreate himself, while receiving tacit and overt assistance from a carefully monitored communist arts infrastructure. Imagine still, a person who with the cooperation of his government creates a Romanian version of a stereotypical western jazzman, to codify Americans and in some small way aid in the establishment of a superficial foreign policy that supposedly distances itself from its Soviet oppressors, to better secure American loans from gullible Washington politicians. Such were the surreal events that led to the historical reinvention of jazz musician Johnny Raducanu, the man now often called the father of all Romanian Jazz.7.

The Romanian Jazz Dynamic

During the advent of Romanian communism, many Hollywood movies were banned, as well as most American literature, with the exceptions of works by Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Walt Whitman.8. Miraculously, jazz was one of the only American cultural genres that survived the harsh purges of the1950s. This was due in part to an outstanding talent pool that had honed its craft in the 1930s. Unlike most western nations, Romania was quite prosperous during the worldwide depression. It was Europe's leading producer of oil, and benefited financially from its post World War I acquisitions of Hapsburg territories, especially Hungarian Transylvania.9. A result of Romanian prosperity was the lively urban club scene that featured live jazz. Even during the Nazi influenced 1940s, it was not uncommon for German soldiers to frequent the same kinds of jazz friendly establishments that were forbidden in their own homeland. In the early going, Romanian jazz musicians performed together as a single community. Their predominant venue was the Romanian Radio Big Band, a unit that harkened back to the Emil Berindei led radio broadcasts of the late 1920s and early 1930s.10. The band became a strong jazz ensemble between 1934-1940, when pianist Teodor Cosma assumed leadership. The Cosma influence would display itself significantly during the Raducanu transformation, especially in later years, when Cosma assumed control of the Romanian state run recording studio Electrecord.11.

After communist domination had asserted itself in Romania, a so-called golden background of Romanian jazz appeared when a cadre of talented musicians, inspired by the artistic leanings of Cosma, appeared at Electrecord. They comprised the membership of an Electrecord Orchestra that in 1956 achieved significant fame in Eastern Europe, by winning an international competition in Moscow.12. Although respectful of Cosma, these young performers drew much of their inspiration from a legendary pianist named Iancsi Korossy, whose combos set the modern standard for Romanian jazz interpretation. Before his eventual emigration to Germany and then the United States, Korossy had established an indelible legacy for which all future Romanian jazz musicians would aspire.13. During the 1960s, these same Korossy disciples would strive to achieve careers as full time jazz musicians, while their more conservative colleagues opted for the greater security found with the commercially revamped Radio Big Band.14. The three predominant musicians from this Electrecord clique were composer Richard Oschanitzky, pianist Marius Popp, and saxophonist Dan Mandrila. The favored bassist of these three men was an extroverted musical overachiever, whose admiration for Korossy's western styled persona had already influenced him to Americanize his first name. The bassist's name was Johnny Raducanu.

According to Raducanu and others, 1960s jazz was tolerated in Romania mainly because it could be played instrumentally. Vocal jazz had essentially been eliminated when the usage of English was prohibited in the 1950s. When English mildly reasserted itself later, its exclusion continued for fear of singing lyrics that could be perceived seditious. Therefore, the vocal branch of Romanian jazz remained relatively small and underdeveloped.15. However, if lyric expulsion were the singular explanation for Romanian jazz tolerance, the music would most likely have been as intensely popular in other communist bloc nations. Actually, the reasons for the Romanian government's "blind eye" towards jazz were far more political than altruistic. Moreover, said politics would work in the favor of Raducanu's career during the superficial westernization of Romanian culture during the Ceausescu era.

The Ceausescu Loans

Romania remained mostly loyal to Moscow until the late 1950s. When Soviet troops were withdrawn in 1958, Romania unlike most of its Warsaw Pact allies began to adopt an independent foreign policy more in line with America. Romanian historian Nicola Williams sums up the situation in her travel guide The Lonely Planet.

" Unlike other Warsaw Pact countries, Romania was allowed to deviate from the official Soviet line. While it remained a member of the Warsaw Pact, Romania did not participate in joint military maneuvers after 1962. Romania never broke with the USSR, as did Tito's Yugoslavia or Mao's China, but Ceausescu (Romanian president) did refuse to assist the Soviets in their 1968 intervention in Czechoslovakia. He even condemned the invasion publicly as "a shameful moment in the history of the revolutionary movement," earning him praise and economic aid from the West and turning him into a national hero."16.

Western aid (especially American loans) was a goal that motivated and excited the megalomaniac Ceausescu. This most ambitious and tyrannical of all Warsaw Pact leaders envisioned a Romania that would rise above all others in the communist world. He envisioned the construction of huge palaces that would address global communist agendas, and the totemic diversion of an insignificant river through the Romanian capitol of Bucharest, because in Ceausescu's words, "Every important city was supposed to have a river."17. The dictator's pro west stance earned Romania an amazing ten billion dollar loan from the staunchly anti communist American government. In a cynical gesture to please his new bankers, Ceausescu falsely demonstrated his love for American culture by turning Romania into a hotbed for foreign jazz. The transition was an easy one for Romanians because of a previous 1960 cultural agreement with the United States, that established the means for American cultural imports including movies, music, translations and art exhibits to enter Romania.18. Beginning in the 1960s, first tier American performers staged gala concerts in Bucharest and other Romanian cities. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and Dizzy Gillespie all visited Romania, under cultural exchange programs organized by the Cultural Exchanges Program of the U.S. State Department. Moreover, a significant number of western jazz history materials were translated into Romanian and made available to the general public.19.

The Initial Transformation

Inexplicably, few Romanian jazz musicians possessed the flamboyant dispositions of their American counterparts, and for the vast majority, a mastery of the English language was not soon forthcoming.20. The Electrecord clique was for the most part an understated group, more in the style of their idol Korrosy. Of those associated with Electrecord, Raducanu was the one most aware of his contemporaries' introverted onstage decorum. But, the performances by the extroverted Americans excited him. He compared the personas of the different performers in a manner that drew confusion and bemusement from his colleagues. He voraciously assimilated their mannerisms and created for himself a stereotypical jazz verbiage. He sought out previously non-translated works and had them read to him or converted into Romanian. He especially paid attention to the mentoring skills of more learned colleagues like Marius Popp. Eventually, he resigned himself to the realization that he would never accumulate the theoretical gravitas to establish his own academic curriculum as Popp had, and instead adopted the grizzled mannerisms of a pioneering anecdotal jazz mentor.21.

Then in 1970, Raducanu experienced a fortuitous streak of luck when Korossy permanently immigrated.22. With Romania's preeminent jazz musician now gone, it was assumed that one of the "big three" would assume his position. On the surface Oschanitzky seemed the logical choice. However, recurring health ailments related to chronic alcoholism snuffed out his promising career at an early age.23. Popp was certainly the most intellectual of the three, but was never interested in the undignified audience pampering associated with stage entertainers. Mandrila did possess all the necessary skills to be the true king of Romanian jazz, and for a period from 1970-1973, he was by all accounts Romania's most popular and influential jazz musician.24. However, few in Romania were aware that Raducanu harbored other ideas, and was merely waiting for the right opportunity to make his move.

The Ellington Meeting

In 1971 Duke Ellington's band performed in Bucharest on a U.S. State Department tour.25. After the performance, Raducanu put his new persona to the test. Throughout Ellington's visit, Raducanu was regularly seen within close proximity to Ellington in hotel lobbies (a favorite Raducanu meeting place), handshake lines and the sorts of low-key diplomatic functions that other Romanian jazz musicians believed disingenuous.26. To the surprise of his colleagues and startled dignitaries, Raducanu never missed a chance to claim to all who would listen, that he was the true spokesman for Romanian jazz. There are even a handful of sources who assert that Raducanu pressed his way into the American ambassador's residence on the evening of the Ellington concert as Ellington rested in an adjoining room.27. Initially, the story of the alleged encounter drew skeptical derision from Raducanu's colleagues, especially when he bragged of having performed for Ellington on piano, an instrument not usually associated with the full toned bassist.28. The obvious question among musicians was Why Johnny? Apparently, Mandrila and others of his musical classification did not take the stories seriously.29. Still Raducanu was already committed to his long-range plans, and had already set them in motion. He had no intentions of explaining himself to other musicians. His goals were then of a more political nature. He became cognizant of the important superficial gestures related to statecraft. The Ellington encounter had been at least a partial success, leading to far bolder gestures in the coming months and years.

1973 and Beyond

1973 was an eventful year for Raducanu, highlighted by a remarkably well-received concert with Popp, Mandrila and American born guest artists Art Farmer and Slide Hampton.30. This event would mark the final time that Raducanu would perform as a bass sideman in a major program, while in the presence of either Popp or Mandrila. Raducanu's colleagues were unaware that he had already booked a number of high profile engagements as a solo pianist, with the help of his new diplomatic connections, in several American, British and French Embassy functions.31. Between 1973-1975, Raducanu would hone his piano skills at these state functions, away from the prying eyes of other musicians. Within a matter of months, he became the go to musician for a plethora of foreign attended diplomatic functions. Within months of the Hampton /Farmer concert, he was performing exclusive Romanian Embassy related events in the United States.32. At this juncture, his most important professional connections were officials who answered directly to Ceausescu and his inner circle. Although never a government insider or informant, Raducanu's embassy connections granted him entry into venues not afforded other musicians. His amusing anecdotes while in the company of these powerful men resembled what was stereotypically expected of a jazz musician, and were more often than not accepted as fact. More importantly, these specially choreographed moments (sometimes artificially staged by propaganda officials as impromptu encounters) provided Raducanu sufficient opportunity to recreate the history of Romanian jazz in his image. These stories were recycled continuously within Romania's tightly monitored media outlets. Investigation and/or repudiation would have most likely not been tolerated.33. Over the next few years it became difficult to separate the truths of the Raducanu legacy from the rapidly accumulating fictions. Even when government policies changed in the 1990s, the old Raducanu alterations remained for the most part unchecked and unchallenged, except by other musicians whose credibility would have been suspect, due to Raducanu’s immense stature. In fact, several of Raducanu's contemporaries were appalled by the sudden historical revisions, but were powerless to stop them.34.

The Revisions

Raducanu's transformation from bassist sideman to pianist leader was both calculated and ingenious. Before his participation in semiprivate state functions, he had been at best a half serious pianist, with little or no hope of attaining the skill level of Popp, and/or next generation performers Mircea Tiberian and Ion Baicu.35. Instead, Raducanu created a kind of Teodor Cosma pre Teddy Wilson style that served him well in the conservative formats associated with foreign aristocracy. Still, Raducanu's most clever manipulations involved his less than subtle borrowings from Korossy. The newly unveiled Raducanu ensembles consisted primarily of the Korossy instrumental format of piano, bass, drums, woodwind, and occasional guitar. Raducanu's frequent implementation of half diminished chords (a Korossy specialization) only cemented the intended confusion. Raducanu's final distortion was to master a repertoire of 1930s music. His new handlers loved the older tunes and Raducanu was more than willing to deliver them in the preferred antique fashion.36 Raducanu then went to great lengths to pass himself off as a much older man. During the 1980s, it was customary for the lay public to believe that the fifty something Raducanu was someone probably in his seventies.37. Predictably, he was also the first Romanian jazz musician to use Internet technologies to forward his revisionist agenda. Website accounts of Raducanu frequently mention his unverifiable multiple generations of musical ancestors, his membership in a fictitious New Orleans jazz organization, and his claim that the performance with Hampton and Farmer was part of an international tour.38.

Of course, the totality of Raducanu's historical reinvention would have never been realized were it not for his sensational talents as a storyteller. Many of his anecdotal fables are well known for their stratospheric measure of daring and gall.

"Once I was playing my piano when I felt a nudge under my feet. I looked to my sustain pedal, and who did I find but Miles Davis. I promptly told him to get up and I would show him some blues."39.

"Once (bassist) Red Mitchell came to me and said, Johnny, I am the first man to give jazz bass its balls. You are the second."40.

"When Duke visited Romania, he insisted that I play for him in the presence of the American ambassador. When I played In a Sentimental Mood for him, he cried."41.

It was Radacanu's 1980s subjugation of Ellington that drew the most indignation and disbelief from other Romanian musicians. In a part of the world where western copyright law was nonexistent, and where the education of public jazz history was scant at best, Raducanu frequently claimed authorship of some of Ellington's best-known works. According to one musician "Johnny would take a song like Jack the Bear, change a couple of chords and call it Variations on Jack the Bear by Johnny Raducanu. If there was no public outcry within a year, he would simply call the piece Johnny's Theme, with no mention of Ellington whatsoever."42. Raducanu's most brazen act of plagiarism was his claim that he authored Frankie and Johnny, an assertion he later dropped in the 1990s, when Romanian society was less susceptible to obvious deceptions. Still Romanian expatriate musicians like Austrian based Nicholas Simeon had difficulty resisting an easy Johnny outing. At one especially memorable concert, Simeon declared, "Sophisticated Lady apparently has two composers, Duke Ellington and Johnny Raducanu." Not to be bested even in a moment of supreme embarrassment, Raducanu immediately rose from his seat and exclaimed, "I loved that song so much that I called it my own." Supposedly, the audience answered the proclamation with a standing ovation in celebration of Raducanu's great empathy for the American master. 43. "It is precisely those incidents that drive respectable men to drink," said Popp upon hearing yet another of Raducanu's legendary tales. As of 2003, Popp remains a disgruntled footnote in Romanian jazz, his own legacy obscured and distorted by the popular acceptance of the Raducanu legend. Popp especially bristles at the contemporary ignorance of his groundbreaking music school, in favor of a Raducanu educational product, based in part on Popp's conceptual initiatives.44. When Raducanu was awarded the Romanian Lifetime Achievement Award in Jazz, Popp boycotted the ceremony and took as insult a request made by Radio Romania that he serve as Raducanu's presenter.45.

Ironies

Despite Raducanu's uncounted moral lapses, it must be said that he has often used his newly found influence for the establishment and perpetuation of good causes. Tiberian (the 2002 Romanian Jazz Musician of the Year) for example points to Raducanu's initial acceptance as his big break in the music business.46. Raducanu has also helped expel a number of corrupt Romanian music contractors, and on a couple of occasions, alleviated uncomfortable situations between musicians and the former Romanian secret police, the Securitate.47. As of 2003, he continues to mentor a handful of young musicians, although the quality of the instruction is speculative at best. "I once had a piano lesson with Johnny," said American blues musician David Vest "He asked me to play a D-flat major tenth with my left hand. I told him I couldn't. Come back when you can, he said. That was the lesson.”48.

Vest's 1980 meeting with Raducanu was an especially successful example of the convincing and alluring nature of the Raducanu mystique, and how encompassing his power had become within the Romanian circle of musicians. When reading this account, it should be advised that Raducanu's abilities in the disciplines of notational reading and orchestration are somewhat minimal.

"I was a Fulbright Scholar lecturing in American Poetry at the University of Bucharest, 1979-80. I met Johnny in the lobby of the Hotel Intercontinental and we soon became fast friends. I was writing songs like mad in those days and he helped me with some arrangements, then invited me to be his guest at the Sibiu Festival, which was televised live into ten countries that year. It is important to understand that my appearance was completely unauthorized by any of the authorities, either Romanian or American. Johnny played with me in public at considerable personal risk to himself. As a result of the performance we were invited to do an album for Electrecord. I gave Johnny a tape of 11 or 12 new songs. One week later he had written complete orchestral arrangements for all of them (see previous paragraph). I believe I counted 53 musicians who showed up for the sessions. When I wanted strings, he got the entire string section of the George Enescu Philharmonic. Rumor was that (pan flutist and Romanian native) Zamfir had invited himself to play on the record but some of the other musicians threatened to beat him up if he showed up. My role was piano and vocals, but on one song Johnny played piano. As far as I know I was the first American to record in Romania. We also made the first American rock video for Romanian TV. I returned to the States before the album was released with every intention of promoting it and securing an American release, but I was involved in a very serious automobile accident and had to let a lot of things go. Did he tell you about the time he played for Duke Ellington at the US ambassador's residence? Duke cried when he heard Johnny play In a Sentimental Mood on piano. My belief is that any story he tells you about himself is true. He said many amazing things to me, and made many bold promises. He delivered on every one of them, including those orchestrations. I really don't know how many copies the album sold. 250,000 was a reasonable estimate. I know it was a substantial hit by Romanian standards, aided by a video, and that it had distribution elsewhere in Eastern Europe and perhaps in Western Europe as well. If you have the opportunity, please let Johnny know that I have never forgotten him and his many kindnesses to me. I send him love and respect and ask his forgiveness for neglecting him these many years, especially in his current time of need."49.

Vest's mention of need refers to Raducanu's recent quadruple bypass surgery and an extended hospital stay where he displayed rare glimpses of humility for the small handful of musicians who visited. "Johnny did many bad things, but he was and still is good for jazz in Romania," said Tiberian. "He took charge when no one else would. Besides it is too late to change things now. History has already moved forward, and so has the story of Romanian jazz."50.


NOTES

1. Marquis, Donald (1978). In Search of Buddy Bolden, Louisiana State University Press: U.S.A., pp. 4-9.

2. Similar to the distortions popularized in Orwell’s 1984.

3. Marquis, Op. cit.

4. Ibid.

5. Personal evaluations based on Johnson’s 1940s recordings.

6. To have even performed with Bolden, Johnson would have been less than ten years old. The chances of Johnson having personal knowledge of Bolden’s performances are miniscule at best.

7. Title attached to numerous Raducanu press releases.

8. Interview with Rodica Mihalea, chair, Department of American Studies, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania, December 1, 2002.

9. Ibid.

10. Lungu, Florian (1995). A Short History of Romanian Jazz, self published, p. 1.

11. Interview with Danila Nicholae, Bucharest, Romania, January 15, 2003.

12. Lungu, Florian (1995). A Short History of Romanian Jazz, self published, p. 2.

13. The author interviewed over 40 Romanian musicians from 9/02-8/03. The Korossy assessment was unanimous.

14. Interview with Danila Nicholae, Op. cit.

15. Interview with Rodica Mihalea, Op. cit.

16. Williams, Nicola (1998). Lonely Planet/Romania and Moldova, Lonely Planet Publications: Footscray, Victoria, Australia,

pp. 23,24.

17. Interview with Ioana Ieronim, Bucharest, Romania, October 1, 2002.

18. Ibid.

19. Interview with Mircea Tiberian, Bucharest, Romania, July 6, 2003.

20. Ibid.

21. Interview with Danila Nicholae, Op. cit.

22. Interview with Tiberian, Op. cit.

23. Interview with Marius Popp, Bucharest, Romania, April 15, 2003.

24. Interview with Florian Lungu (Mircea Tiberian translator), Bucharest, Romania, August 2, 2003.

25. Ibid.

26. Interview with Popp, Op. cit.

27. Interview with Gabriel Popescu, Bucharest, Romania, February 6, 2003.

28. Interview with Tiberian, Op. cit.

29. Ibid.

30. Recording heard in the home of Marius Popp, April 15, 2003, using notations in Popp’s attached personal journal.

31. Interview with Johnny Raducanu, Bucharest, Romania, September 28, 2002.

32. Ibid.

33. Interview with Ioana Ieronim, Op. cit.

34. Ibid.

35. Author assessment based upon numerous performance interactions with Raducanu.

36. Interview with Johnny Raducanu, Op. cit.

37. Interview with Allyn Constanciu (translated by Cristian Soleanu), Bucharest, Romania, February 5, 2003.

38. Identical findings. . in four different sites as result of random search engine usage.

39. Interview with Johnny Raducanu, Op. cit

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.

42. Interview with Cristian Soleanu, Bucharest, Romania, March 18, 2003.

43. Interview with Nicholas Simeon, Bucharest, Romania, January 19, 2003.

44. Interview with Danila Nicholae, Op. cit.

45. Interview with Marius Popp, Op. cit.

46. Interview with Mircea Tiberian, Op. cit.

47. Interview with Allyn Constanciu, Op. cit.

48. Written correspondence from David Vest, November 10, 2003.

49. Ibid.

50. Interview with Tiberian, Op. cit.

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