It’s very important to me that the musicians I love never get forgotten. 

I know that the man-and-woman-on-the-street in 2011 don’t recognize the names Joe Oliver or Herbie Nichols.  That might be inevitable, but I don’t want these figures and a thousand others to be forgotten even more than they are now.

So I am sending out a global cyber-request.  Send no money, clicks, tweets, proofs of purchase, or boxtops.

But if your Mom or Dad was a musician or singer of note, your Uncle or Aunt or Grandpa . . . would you get in touch with me and consider telling your stories? 

I would be delighted to use JAZZ LIVES to celebrate my artistic heroes and heroines.  We could do a telephone interview (to be transcribed and printed here); we could talk face-to-face; I could take photographs of memorabilia; I could even bring my videocamera if you don’t live more than ____ hours away from New York City.

I’m absolutely serious.  My email is

And I understand that there are many jazz-children who would regard this request with puzzlement or suspicion, if their experiences made them sad.  I was once given the telephone number of the daughter of a musician, then dead, whose name you would recognize.  I called her and asked if she would be willing to talk to me about her father, and she was very politely puzzled, “What would I say to you?” she asked.  And she asked if I could call her back some other time, which I took (perhaps correctly) as a very veiled “No, thank you.”  

I promise I am not looking to pry or to uncover traumas.  But I am a born hero-worshipper, and I think many of my readers are too. 

And — if you are reading this entry and thinking, “Well, I didn’t have the good fortune to be Henry “Red” Allen’s son, but I did see him play,” I would be delighted to hear or read and print that story too.

Consider this blog a collective memory bank: no minimum deposits, everything repaid with grateful interest.

4 responses to “REMEMBER!

  1. What a wonderful idea this is! Keep me posted.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention REMEMBER! | JAZZ LIVES --

  3. Barbara Bengels

    I wonder if the person you called regretted your not having called her back. I think you didn’t give her enough time to think, or yourself enough credit in giving her this opportunity. I’ll bet she did a lot of thinking afterward about what you might have asked and what she would have answered, as well as the stories that she could tell. Maybe you should try calling her again, especially since you have given so much thought and time to this amazing blog. Perhaps you could also suggest that she check it out before deciding if she wanted to be interviewed.

  4. Alas, alas. This episode took place perhaps in 1990 and she is no longer with us. Without revealing her identity, I think now I understand why she was reluctant. I don’t think she was in the best of health at the time; her father (the hero-musician) was a reformed alcoholic and I gather her mother (at one point keeping up with her father, perhaps?) had become a complete alcoholic. So perhaps she had no eagerness to revisit the past; perhaps her childhood was something she wished she could forget. But you are correct in urging me to be bold: these opportunities to politely nag and tug at these people, once gone, are forever gone. It amuses me greatly that you have spent a good deal of energy — with phenomenal results — asking your science-fiction writers to tell you about their parents, their childhoods. Standing that impulse on its head, I find myself wanting to talk to the children about their parents. Between us, we have the whole game covered!

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