Warning: Spoiler Alert
The life of a musician’s far from easy, odds are overwhelming, they’ll never make it out of their basement, or some dingy bar, even those signed to a record label fade into oblivion after one album. Then there’s the scam-artists that some deal with, offering them a pittance for work that’s worth a fortune, leaving the artist out in the cold, while the schemers cash in. There are tales of Blues and Rock musicians, being taken advantage of and the world of Jazz’s filled with stories about bandleaders who stole their musicians compositions, claiming them as their own.
The plot of the latest episode of the ABC series “Forever,” revolved around the world of Jazz, starting off in a club called Ruby’s, as the Bud Gray Quintet entertained the audience. A well-dressed young man comes up to the bar and asks for the usual and something for the two lovely ladies, he’s eyeing next to him. Rudy the bartender tells him his tabs to large to add to and the young man, tells him his ship came in and the next time he’s there he’ll pay off the tab and buy a round for the house.
An older man also well-dressed, stands behind him and laughs, saying what kind of foolish scheme does he have this time. The young man says he’ll take a rain-check on those drinks and the other guy, says good luck cashing it. Though the young man turned to leave, he turned back to his critic and said actually it involved him, he’s about to prove just what kind of businessman Al Rainey is. (The older man’s name.) He walks to his car climbs into the seat and pushes in the car lighter, then takes a swig out of a bottle of whiskey. The lighter pops out and someone in the back seat pops up and strangles the young man from behind.
The next morning Henry Morgan’s standing in Abe’s shop looking out the front window and listening to a Classical LP. Abe comes downstairs, and changes the record to bebop, which Morgan abhors. Henry goes on a rant about young people’s music and Abe turns the volume up. The phone rings and thankfully for Morgan it’s Jo Martinez, they’ve got a new death to investigate.
Detectives Martinez and Hanson meet Henry at the crime scene, it’s the young man’s car completely torched with the young man still in the driver’s seat, totally charred. Morgan examines the body and within 15-seconds says the victim was murdered and before he and the car got burned, as there’s no soot in his mouth or nostrils. That proves the victim didn’t inhale any of the smoke.
The body back in Henry’s lab he and his assistant Lucas, conduct an autopsy on the body, Henry removes a saxophone reed from the victim’s mouth. Jo arrives telling the pair, the victim’s Isiah Williams, just 29-years-old, Lucas finds a piece of acetate inside the body and Henry determines the killer used film stock as the accelerant. They’ve contacted William’s next-of-kin and a department employee enters to tell Martinez that William’s sister’s arrived.
The woman’s named Ella and she’s Isiah’s older sister. She spoke to him the night before from a jazz club and told her their father gave him something that would change their lives. She then explains that her and her father don’t talk, he’s the Jazz sax played Pepper Evans, one of the greats of Jazz, reduced to busking at a subway station. They find Evans playing and they identify themselves, they ask about Isiah and the old man asks what happened to his son, Jo gently tells him he was murdered and they take Pepper to a coffee shop for questioning.
Martinez asks Evans if somebody would want to harm his son and he replies Isiah wasn’t a boy-scout, he had just scene his son the day before and gave him sold old audio tapes. Henry realizes that’s the accelerant that kept the blaze stoked. Jo tells him they’ll contact him if he has any questions, he replies that they know where to find him.
Morgan flashes back to 1956, and eleven-year-old Abraham’s playing Chopin on the piano, but messes up and gets frustrated. Henry walks in and shows him the right notes, then says that Classical music’s the foundation of civilized society. A couple in the next apartment are arguing and we hear screams and breaking glass, then a knock on the Morgan’s door. Henry answers it and a man with a bloody rag on his hand reminds him he’s the neighbor from next door, Red and he remembers Henry’s a doctor, he has a gig that night and can Morgan fix his hand. Henry says sure and sits him down and looks at the musician’s hand and tells him he’ll need stitches and he’ll be right back.
Red sees the sheet music on the piano and he asks Abe if he plays Chopin and the boy’s surprised Red’s heard of him. The musician says that Chopin’s one of the greats of Classical music, though he gets bored by it and they both chuckle. Red asks him if he ever played Jazz and the boy says he doesn’t have any sheet music. The musician replies, that with Jazz you don’t need sheet music, you just feel it. He says you take this musty old stuff and jazz it up, then he plays a bunch of Jazz riffs on Chopin’s composition, Henry watches from behind and smiles.
Abe freaks when he hears Henry’s met Pepper Evans, tells him he was a child prodigy and played with Lionel Hubbard on 6AM, a seminal jazz-song, then goes to get the record. When Abe starts playing the LP, Henry says extraordinary and Abe thinks he’s enjoying the music, instead Morgan’s talking about the resemblance between young Pepper and Isiah. He then asks Abe about a Jazz club named Dutch’s and Abe told him it closed years ago. It’s now called Rudy’s and it’s a great club, at 140th and Lennox, Henry smiles and grabs his coat.
Martinez and Morgan head to Rudy’s and Rudy says that Isiah doesn’t look familiar and Henry says he finds that hard to believe. Rudy asks why and Morgan says that there’s a picture behind the bar of Pepper Evans who looked exactly like Isiah. Rudy admits talking to Williams that night and he explains why he and the dead man shared words.
He then says he’s got to go when Henry asks him for a glass of liquor, not behind the bar. When Rudy goes to get it, Henry reaches behind the bar and grabs a case, it’s Pepper Evans’ the case he gave to his son the day he was murdered. He admits he took the case as collateral, until he paid off his bar tab. Morgan, whose got perfect pitch walks over the standup bass and plucks a string, saying it sounds sharp, Rudy tells him to tune it. Henry notices it’s a brand new string and the old one was the murder weapon.
Rudy’s brought in for questioning and Martinez tells the club owner thing’s don’t look good for him. Rudy tells Jo that Williams’ always bragged that Pepper wrote 6AM even though Lionel Hubbard’s acknowledged as the composer. Rudy believed that Williams at least thought he had the reel-to-reel of the first session, the night he got killed. Henry and Lt. Joanna Reece, watch from the other side of the one-way-window and he asks why would someone kill somebody over a song and she schools Henry. 6AM changed Jazz forever, the rhythms, the chord progressions, the absolute joy of the song. Henry’s amused she’s such a Jazz fan, but right then Lucas comes out with the evidence to determine the time of Isiah’s death. He got strangled at 11:58 pm, ruling Rudy out as a suspect as he was behind the bar until 3:00 am. Morgan says now they need to find out who owns the rights to the song and Reece says it’s Al Rainey, owner of Dove Bird Records.
When Jo and Henry arrive at Rainey’s office, he laughs off the suggestion that Pepper Evans wrote 6AM, he ran the board on that session and the only sober guy in the studio. He offers to let Martinez hear the digitized master tapes, Henry watches as the Bud Gray Quintet, the band at Rudy’s the night Isiah was murdered, set up for a recording session. As they start to play, Morgan flashes back to 1956. Abe and Red are now playing Jazz on the piano together, and Abe shows lots of potential, Henry stands in the door for a while and smiles before he interrupts.
Without any evidence, they leave Rainey’s and Henry suggests they reenact the crime in the burnt car. He, Jo and Lucas head to where the car’s stored and Lucas plays the victim as Morgan portrays the killer. Lucas grabs for Henry’s hands to attempt to stop him and knocks Morgan’s ID badge off his lab jacket and Henry determines, that’s where any item that might have fallen off the murderer. Henry slices open the seat and finds a cufflink with the monogram DB, Morgan believes it’s for Dove Bird Records.
They arrest Rainey and show him the cufflink, he then says he wants his lawyer. Reece believes he killed the young man and when the lawyer arrives he says charge Rainey or release him. The Lieutenant says she can hold him for 72-hours and she’ll enjoy everyone.
Henry once again flashes back to 1956, he’s alone in the apartment when there’s a knock at the door and it’s Red, Morgan says he didn’t realize Abraham had a lesson today, he’s out playing. The musician says he just came to say goodbye, he got a six month gig in Paris. While Henry’s happy for Red he and Abe will miss him and Red tells Morgan to keep fanning the flame in Abe that he lit, he’s got a good feel for Jazz. He then says he travels light, he’s like a Bedouin, carries everything in one case.
Morgan runs to Evans’ case and finds a reel in a canister hidden beneath the lining and he’s certain the tape’s the original master. He plays it for the police, Rainey and his lawyer and there’s just hiss and static. Lucas looks at it and says the layers separated and now it’s useless, an antique, which gives Henry an idea. Who better to deal with an antique but his son the antique dealer?
Abe’s a true audiophile and knows the secret to restoring tapes with separated layers, you put them in the oven and bake them. He learned it trading Grateful Dead bootlegs in the Sixties and Seventies, the trick works the tape’s like new. Morgan heads back to the station and tells Martinez and Hanson the tape’s restored via the baking technique and Hanson calls him Betty Crocker and tells him to play it. We hear the entire session including Hubbard saying to Evans they should start with Pepper’s new song and why does he call it 6AM. Evans says that’s the time his baby girl Ella was born, the happiest moment in his life. Hubbard replies because Ella looks like Pepper’s wife and Evans laughs and says at least they don’t call me Dough Boy.
Evans heads to the station asking if they made any progress on who killed his son and Jo says no, but they’re close. He sees the cufflink and asks where Martinez found it and she tells him it was found in Isiah’s car, does he recognize it? The old man’s face tells us that he does but he tells the detective, no and to have a nice rest of the day and leaves. Martinez realizes he’s lying.
Henry realizes the cufflinks don’t stand for Dove Bird, instead they stand for Dough Boy. So who inherited the cufflinks and the rights to 6AM? Bud Gray, the bass-player and leader of the Bud Gray Quintet and Lionel Hubbard’s son, who play at Rudy’s that evening. Henry, Martinez, Hanson and a bunch of uniforms head to Rudy’s, we then switch to the club where Pepper Evans’ drinking and pulls a revolver out of his pocket.
When they all arrive, Henry sees Evans and talks him out of shooting Gray, so he can be a father to Ella, he knows that Pepper wrote 6AM to celebrate her birth. Evans says she wants nothing to do with him, but Morgan says let her hear the tape. The old man puts down his gun and Morgan pockets it. Gray gets arrested on stage without a struggle, Rainey’s charged as an accessory to murder.
Henry gets back to the shop and Abe’s playing a Chopin LP, telling Henry that some of his tastes rubbed off on him. Henry then asks Abe to teach him how to play Jazz on the piano and the two play off into the night.
The Story Continues Next Tuesday at 10:00 pm on ABC.