You never know what you might find on a casual browse through eBay.  This time, I feel sure I’ve caromed from one emotion to another.  Because of its rarity, I would love to own the first photograph — Chick Webb lying in state — but it would make me far too sad to look at it on the wall:

And for those who need verification, here’s the reverse side:

But I couldn’t, as a responsible blog-guardian, leave my readers with that image burned into their memories.  So here’s the other side of the coin — an autographed picture of clarinetist Tony Parenti, wearing a hat that I can’t quite identify (is it the French Foreign Legion or the Fraternal Order of You-Name-It?  Please advise if you know.) and grinning happily, clarinet over his shoulder.  More mysteries: it’s inscribed to “Martha,” with regards to “Muggsy.”  Is that our Mr. Spanier?  Anyway, it’s a happy man, facing the camera, full of life:

I invite deconstructive analysis from my readers, as always —


  1. Bill Gallagher

    Tony looks to be wearing a Civil War cap (Confederate because it looks grey, not blue).

  2. Bill Haesler

    Dear Michael and Bill,
    It is a Confederate soldier’s cap. That photograph (signed for Joe Mares by Tony Parenti) appears on page 79 of Derek Coller’s Parenti biography ‘Clarinet Marmalade’ (2003. Jazzology Press).
    In a letter to Derek, Jack Sohmer commented on the “insensitivity” of the cap, and the confederate flag on the bell of Parenti’s clarinet, prominent “during sets with universally respected African-American jazzmen.”
    The period: circa 1960-61.
    Very kind regards,

  3. I don’t know: I would rank Tony’s comic sensitivity higher than Sohmer’s outraged feelings, although I usually take the far left line in such matters. I want to say to the now-dead Jack Sohmer, “I’ll bet the guys who played with Tony thought it was funny,” but who knows. Thanks for the on-target scholarship! Cheers, Michael


  5. My eyes are not what they used to be, but I’m pretty sure that inscription reads, “With regrets [not regards] to Muggsy” – which makes it even more interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s