I was very fortunate to have arrived at Sunnie Sutton’s Rocky Mountain Jazz Party a day early — and met the absolutely irreplaceable Jake Hanna before any of his more famous jazz friends had arrived. He didn’t know anything about me except that I could tell him where to get his prized King of Shaves shaving cream, but for an hour or so he adopted me — I am a good listener and I find many things amusing. So he regaled me with an apparently inexhaustible stream of hilarious anecdotes about the famous and the infamous. Jake was a character in the deepest senses of the word, and a born raconteur. He did all the voices, had a wonderfully mobile face, and became the person he was depicting. It was a magical experience, and my only regret is that I didn’t have a notebook or a video recorder. But what follows is the next best thing: a loving panorama of the man, his voice, his sense of humor, and his swing. “Start swinging from the beginning!” he always said:
From Maria Judge, Jake’s niece:
We are collecting Jake Hanna stories, pictures, memories and anecdotes for a book to be published on April 4, 2011, on what would have been Jake’s 80th birthday. If It Didn’t Swing It Wasn’t Jake: Friends, Fans and Family Remember Jake Hanna will be a wonderful way to preserve his memory, his music and his marvelous wit.
We know you must have a favorite memory or anecdote about Jake. It could be a first-hand experience, a third-hand experience, a story he told, a story you heard, one of his many jokes, a picture, an apocryphal tale … Whatever you have, please share it for publication. If you think someone else already sent it in, send it anyway.
Send them to Maria Judge:
PO Box 53089
Medford, MA 02155-0089
Or you can call and tell the story to her directly or to her voice mail at (781) 395-1426.
Please submit by February 28, 2011.
And here’s something to put you in the right mood for reminiscing: a performance of LADY BE GOOD from the 1986 Bern Jazz Festival by the “Condon Memories” band featuring our man Uncle Jake, Milt Hinton, Dick Wellstood, Bucky Pizzarelli, Bill Allred, Bob Wilber, Wild Bill Davison and Warren Vache — indeed!