by Levi Asher Saturday, February 7, 2015 09:51 am
Daevid Allen, the brilliant jazz-rock mastermind of Soft Machine, Gong, New York Gong and Planet Gong, releases a public statement about his fatal cancer.
"When I was in Paris after I left the army, the painter Joan Mitchell told me when I came back to New York I had to look up the sax player and painter Larry Rivers. She said I'd find him at the Cedar Tavern, so I went to the Cedar Tavern and they told me Larry was playing the Monday Night Jam Session that night at the 125 Club in Harlem. So I went up to the 125 Club, and there was Larry wailing away on his sax. We played together, and when the MC was thanking everybody for coming, Larry was still playing, all by himself. The crowd began to leave and they started putting up chairs, but Larry was still playing. Then Steve Pulliam, the trombonist, who was in charge of the jam session, turned to me as Larry continued to play alone and said 'Man, your blue-eyed soul brother has a lot of heart.'
"Larry finally stopped playing and we rode downtown on the subway together. We talked about music, and he told me he was working on something, but that he couldn't get it right. We played together often from that time on. One day I went into the Museum of Modern Art and saw "Washington Crossing the Delaware", painted by Larry Rivers. I saw him at the Cedar Tavern a few nights later and said to him, 'Larry, I'd heard you were a sax player and a painter, but you never told me that painting was really your thing.' Larry said, 'You never asked.'
"He was a wonderful artist in all mediums and he loved playing music. The last time we played together was at Terry Southern's memorial service. He sang 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' and played 'Blue Monk.'
"When we made 'Pull My Daisy', it was three weeks of crazed fun. This movie was filmed as a silent movie, and we overdubbed music later. I had the great alto master Sahib Shihab play saxophone on the soundtrack as Larry and I appeared to play music on the screen, making it appear as if we were playing the music. When Larry heard Sahib's fantastic solo later, he told me, 'David, I never sounded so good.'
"He had a lot of spirit, and continued to be productive as an artist and a real individual. I'll miss him a lot."