Shoebox Rollins and Daddy Sweet Keys have not seen each other in almost
forty years. They were both giants of the Harlem jazz scene. Daddy, the
scene’s patriarch, revered pianist, and Shoebox’s mentor, went for a walk
during the intermission of one of their bebop sets. He never returned.
Daddy Sweet Keys left music, his first love, for the continued survival of
his second love, Ethel. Getting mixed up with some of the vices of the
jazz scene; Ethel was spiraling downward, with Daddy soon to follow.
Realizing that they would both end up in a “bad way” if this behavior
continued; he left New York City for the countryside of New York. From the
rural south, Shoebox never left Harlem, N.Y., his adopted hometown. He
never left his first love. Jazz was always the wife in his life, and
women, the mistresses. Martha, Shoebox’s wife is tired of being the
mistress. She wants his attention, and will not put up with being second
anymore. She wants to be treated as a wife should. James, a bright,
wide-eyed 12 year-old boy wants to learn to be a jazzman. He listens to
Shoebox play on the corner everyday, waiting for the right moment to
inquire about teaching him the music. The only problem is Shoebox is not
interested, until he meets up with Daddy Sweet Keys.
Daddy Sweet Keys visits New York City for the first time in forty years.
His grandson is
a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Daddy feels the need to revisit his
roots, and walk the streets of Harlem while he’s in town. He meets up with
James, Shoebox Rollins and
Martha, realizing that he and Shoebox were both a “Prisoner of Love”.