Before my time, Long Island was a hotbed of jazz — Miff Mole was born in Freeport, and there were thriving colonies of jazz musicians in Queens: Louis, of course, in Corona; James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Milt Hinton, Roy Eldridge and many others.  Red Allen had a steady gig at the Blue Spruce Inn in Roslyn.   

When I first became aware of jazz, like love, it was just around the corner.  Louis and the All-Stars came to the Island Garden in Hempstead in 1967; I saw Jimmy McPartland, Vic Dickenson, Joe Wilder, Milt Hinton, Dick Hyman, Buddy Tate, Jo Jones, Dill Jones, Budd Johnson, Connie Kay, and Teddy Wilson in concerts, usually free ones in the parks. Teddy, Roy Eldridge, Wilbur Little, and Joe Farrell played hour-long gigs in the shopping center Roosevelt Field in 1972.   The International Art of Jazz had wonderful concerts — I remember a quartet of Ruby Braff, Derek Smith, George Duvivier, and Bobby Rosengarden.  Ray Nance did a week in a club in Hicksville!   

Some years later, a traditional jazz society whose name now escapes me held concerts in Babylon, with Peter Ecklund, Dan Barrett, Joe Muranyi, Marty Grosz, and others.  Nancy Mullen told me of evenings when Ecklund would show up in a little Port Jefferson spot and play beautifully.  Sonny’s Place, in Seaford, had name jazz players for years.

Now, I know that most of the musicians I’ve listed above are dead.  Try as I might, I can’t make Red Allen come back to Roslyn.  But I wonder:  Is there any Mainstream jazz on Long Island?   Could it be that it has retreated utterly to safer urban refuges?  I would be grateful for any information on some place(s) where the band strikes up a familiar melody to improvise on.  It could even be  “Satin Doll,” although I would hope for better. 

Or has the region I live in given itself over completely to cellphone stores, nail salons, and highways?  Say it ain’t so, Jo (Jones, that is).

4 responses to “LONG ISLAND SOUND?

  1. I hear tell that the spirit of Elvin Jones still haunts the Roosevelt Field shopping mall.

  2. So sorry to have erased both you, Mr. Page, and Elvin Jones from the nostalgic record. As I recall,there were four Roosevelt Field gigs, although I remember only three. Teddy Wilson had Al Lucas and Gary Mure; Roy had someone on organ and Eddie Locke; Elvin had Joe Farrell and Wilbur Little. I also recall that you, Karen Padawer, and I talked with Little after his one-hour gig, an indication of things to come!

    And the last time I was at Roosevelt Field, a place I have come to detest, I flew in and out so speedily that I might have missed Elvin. But I think I saw the shadow of Fats Waller lurking near the Haagen-Dasz kiosk. Coincidence? I think not.

    Yours in present time and in memory, Michael

  3. Being raised on the Island of Malls, Sonny’s Place was my first real experience with the Genre. It was an experience that has lasted some twenty-five years, and will continue to, lord willing.

  4. Went to Sonny’s Place a few times in the early ‘70s. Remember seeing Roy Hayne and Charles McPhearson.

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