His New Mamma (2007)
for jazz trio 15 minutes
Instrumentation: clarinet, piano, drums
Performers: The Snark Ensemble
Film synopsis and musical notes:
This Harry Langdon comedy breaks into two acts: act one is in a snowy northern climate, act two on the sunny beach. It is Christmastime in act one, and Harry (a grown-up playing a child) is anxious for the holiday. His father has a new wife (a new “mama,” in more than one sense); but, the mama takes a fancy to Harry, because she is actually closer in age to Harry than his dad. Papa does not like this, and after chasing son through the house and the snowy outdoors, banishes him from his house for life.
Cut act two, where we find Harry driving a cab in a sunny climate. Harry has found a girl, and is waiting with her to the girls’ ward to arrive. The Mack Sennett “bathing beauties” fill Harry’s taxi to the beach, where he is then stiffed. After some beach baseball, Harry finds his “new mama” on the beach with another old guy (not his father!). Upon confronting his mama, the latter (needless to say) wants nothing to do with Harry, and conspires to keep him away from her until she can marry the “money-bags.”
Harry calls his papa in the north to alert him: Papa sets out in a huff.
After a fantastic chase sequence, Harry bursts into the wedding ceremony at the last moment...he reveals the true nature of the “mama” to “money-bags,” and all is resolved. But not before Harry is hit on the head with an umbrella and faints away.
His New Mamma was written for Ben Redwine’s Trio (clarinet, guitar, bass); however, it was recorded by clarinet, piano, and drums, and has been performed live numerous times in that arrangement, which also appears on the DVD set The Harry Langdon Collection: Lost and Found (All Day Entertainment, 2007), one of the New York Times’ “Critic’s Picks” for 2007.
--Andrew Earle Simpson