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Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on 12 May, 2009 by Ally
3wishes

Three Wishes by Pannonica de Koenigswarter

Until recently, my knowledge about Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter (née Rothschild) was extremely limited. Born to a reknowned English banking family, Nica was compelled to move to New York City in the 1950s after hearing Thelonious Monk’s haunting tune ‘Round Midnight. She became a great patron of jazz, befriending legendary figures like Charlie Parker (who died in her house) and Thelonious Monk (who wrote another haunting tune in her honour). She became known as the Jazz Baroness.

Last month BBC4 screened a documentary entitled The Jazz Baroness. Written and directed by her great-niece Hannah Rothschild, it told the tale of Nica’s eventful life, her importance on the jazz scene from the ’50s onwards and the strong bond she shared with Monk. The programme also sparked my interest in Monk’s music, which had previously eluded me. I have since bought and assimilated many of his wonderful recordings, and allowed Monk into my heart.

Thelonious and Nica

Thelonious and Nica

So when I discovered Nica wrote a book, I had to read it immediately. And I did. It arrived today and I’ve finished it already. Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats is the product of Nica’s passion for jazz. Over the years she asked hundreds of musicians what their three wishes would be, eventually compiling them into a book (accompanied by blurry and decaying polaroid snaps). Answers range from the predictable stock answers of “world peace” and “money” to touching, hilarious and occasionally embarrassing admissions. John Coltrane wishes for “three times the sexual power I have now,” Art Blakey wishes for a divorce so he could marry Nica and Miles Davis bitterly quips that his only wish is “to be white!” But perhaps the most beautifully-expressed sentiment is from legendary drummer Louie Bellson:

3. “I am hoping that music will mend the entire world. It has been proven that our relations with other countries has been one hundred percent pure in friendship because of music. I feel that music will blossom into a flower, and that flower will express one great thought, and that is: We belong to the human race and we all learn the same notes.”

– Louie Bellson