Monthly Archives: August 2011

THE LATEST JAZZ NUMBERS

I don’t have a garage anymore, but I am thinking of buying this folio (starting bid $45 on eBay) and getting together with the other kids on the block and having a garage band that plays BLUIN’ THE BLUES:

I’ll talk to the neighbors when they complain . . . .

NEW OLD TREASURES!

Here are the very exciting results of our trip to an antique store in Vallejo and a community thrift store in Benicia — both less famous towns in California.

I know this isn’t a terribly rare piece of sheet music: it was a hit in 1920 and people still request it today.  But I love the Art Deco cover, and I had never heard anyone sing the verse.  That verse intrigues me because of its indirection.  The singer doesn’t say, “I’ve got a girl named Margie, and she’s great,” etc.  No, there’s a little story:

One: You can talk about your love affairs,

Here’s one I must tell to you;

All night long they sit on the stairs,

He holds her close and starts to coo:

Two: You can picture me most ev’ry night,

I can’t wait until they start;

Ev’ry thing he says just seems all right,

I want to learn that stuff by heart:

Thus the setup for the chorus is coming from an eager but less-sophisticated young man who wants to take Lessons in Love.  Who would have guessed it?

Not jazz by any means, but captivating.

I hadn’t known that Russ Columbo was RADIO’S REVELATION.  Having bought the sheet music for YOU CALL IT MADNESS, BUT I CALL IT LOVE, I’ve learned something both new and essential.

I had never heard or heard of this 1929 song (lyrics by Charles Tobias and Sidney Clare, music by Peter DeRose).  By no means is it an unknown classic, but here are the lyrics to the bridge: “He plays most everything the masters wrote / He plays them heavenly and doesn’t read a note.”  Hot enough for me.

This one is a treasure for obvious reasons and more.  I knew this lovely song from Bing’s 1931 recording, but had no idea that it has been associated with Miss Connie Boswell.  And it has a personal meaning for me.  My father was born in 1915, and the songs of his childhood became the songs of mine, even though I didn’t exactly know the titles or the complete versions.  He is dead almost thirty years, and I can still hear him singing, “Leaves come tumbling down / ‘Round my head / Some of them are brown / Some are red,” although I don’t think he ever got as far as the bridge.  I think he also sang it to his granddaughters, several of whom might remember the tune.

Since I mentioned Harry Lillis Crosby, I shall bring forward one of the real gems of my paddling through cardboard boxes of shredding sheet music (invariably on my hands and knees).  I have only the cover of this song, but I think it’s a worthwhile find:

Handsome young fellow, isn’t he?  (Even with that hairpiece.)  I think he has a real future, than Bing.  With or without the other Two Rhythm Boys.  (Incidentally, if you haven’t heard John Gill’s Bing tribute — with his Sentimental Serenaders — recorded for Stomp Off — you’re denying yourself pleasure.)

And since nothing beats an unusual 78 rpm record in mint condition, let me share this one with you.  It looks anything but interesting, but I have hopes:

Now, John Conte was not a pseudonym for Red McKenzie or Boyce Brown, and the other side looks just as far away from hot jazz as the first.  But the TEEN TIMER label stopped me from going on to the next record.  Perhaps twenty-five years ago, the musician and scholar Loren Schoenberg (who now heads the Jazz Museum in Harlem) had a weekly radio program on Columbia University’s WKCR-FM, and one of his august guests was the tenor saxophonist Jerry Jerome.  Jerry brought along a number of rarities, and one of them sprang from a radio program (circa 1944) for which he led the house band.  The TEEN TIMERS orchestra was an astonishing collection of the best New York City studio players / hot soloists.  I remember Chris Griffin and Will Bradley, Hymie Schertzer, Johnny Guarneri, Eddie Safranski, and Dave Tough were in the band — identifiable not only by their sound, but because that day the program might have run short, so the players were allowed to stretch out on a ONE O’CLOCK JUMP where they were identified by name.  (I learned online that it was a Saturday morning show on NBC; the singing star was Eileen Barton — later to have a big hit with IF I KNEW YOU WERE COMING, I’D A BAKED A CAKE) and the announcer was Art Ford — late 1944, early 1945.  So TEEN TIMERS — perhaps a hopeful effort by Apollo Records (for whom Jerry did some producing of sessions) to attract the bobby-soxers — has the possibility of a hot obbligato or a lovely ballad interlude on this disc.  Or perhaps a Dave Tough cymbal accent.  We live in hope.

Are there any JAZZ LIVES readers who recall this radio program?

Finally, you might be able to intuit how pleased I am with my finds.  They didn’t cost much; they don’t weigh a great deal; they are filled with sentiment.  But perhaps I should let Stuff Smith indicate the state of my emotions?

P.S.  A note on what some folks call “provenance”: most of the music above (and some I didn’t photograph — a Frank Crumit comedy song called I MARRIED THE BOOTLEGGER’S DAUGHTER) came from the collection of one musical young woman.  I could trace some parts of her life: in one phase, she was Stella Carberry (in block capitals); in another, she signed in lovely cursive Stella Maria Pisani.  The copy of MARGIE belonged to Stella’s sister or even sister-in law (I am assuming) Tessie M. Pisani.  Objects have their own lives and they reflect the people who once owned and loved them.

DOUBLING IN BRASS: TOM WARNER and FRIENDS (August 5, 2011)

I’ve never met Tom Warner in person, but I feel as if I know him well.  He’s a diligent videographer who generously shares his work on YouTube as “tdub1941,” enabling us to travel and hear without leaving our computers.  But it’s only recently that Tom has picked up his trumpet and joined the band.  Although he stays in the ensemble here, I salute him: he’s living the dream, as the phrase goes . . . and capturing it on video, too.

What follows is an informal, unbuttoned delight — it could have taken place anywhere in time and space in the history of hot jazz, although it sounds like Chicago, circa 1933, to me.  I want to hear more of Miss Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke — that girl’s got soul! — and the young fellow on the saxophone looks much like my hero Andy Schumm, doesn’t he?

Tom recorded this at the Doo Dah Lounge in Davenport, Iowa, and the DOO DAH Players are Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke, vocal; Andy Schumm, saxophone; John Otto, clarinet; Frank Gualtieri, trombone; Tom Warner; trumpet; Jason Schreiber, banjo; Dave Bock, tuba.

I hope there’s more from this session!  Thanks to the players, the singer, and the videographer, for a few uplifting moments in jazz.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING (WILL BE WONDERFUL): SWEET AND HOT, Sept. 2011

The sentiments, slightly modified, come from Mae West (by way of Oscar Wilde, two people who knew the delights of overabundance.  But this post is about jazz, not sex, even though the words SWEET and HOT are in the title.

I have just seen the schedule for the September 2011 Sweet and Hot music extravaganza — to be held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott over Labor Day weekend.  You, too, can see it here:

http://www.sweethot.org/schedule/2011/SH_Schedule_2011.pdf

These five pages are wonderful.  I see my heroes and heroines and friends — those I’ve met and those I’ve only heard — in profusion.  There’s Chris Dawson, Connie Jones, Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Katie Cavera, Dawn Lambeth, Marc Caparone, Ralf and John Reynolds, Mark Shane, Dan Levinson, Molly Ryan, Hal Smith, Clint Baker, Tim Laughlin, Randy Reinhart, Dan Barrett, John Sheridan, Joel Forbes, Chloe Feoranzo, Corey Gemme, John Allred, Howard Alden, Bob Draga, Sue Kroninger, Richard Simon, Johnny Varro, Dan Levinson, Carl Sonny Leyland, Marty Eggers, Allan Vache, Ed Polcer, Jim Galloway, Banu Gibson, Dave Koonse, Russ Phillips, Herb Jeffries, Jennifer Leitham, Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys . . . . and I know I’m leaving out a dozen more.

This amplitude, this cornucopia isn’t in itself a problem.  Better to have your plate heaped high with deliciousness than have one elderly green bean to gnaw on.  The problem — if you see it as such — is in the choosing.

When scientists experimented on the subject of choice, they found that children asked to decide between three breakfast cereals did fine; children asked to choose among twelve burst into tears.

I’m in slightly better shape, especially because I never eat cold cereal.  But I wish JAZZ LIVES readers would come up with a solution to my jazz dilemma.  There’s only one of me, and when in one room the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet is swinging away, in another the Reynolds Brothers are romping, in a third it’s Jones-Clint Baker-Laughlin-Dawson-Hal Smith, in a fourth Levinson, Ryan, and Shane . . . what’s a fellow to do?

The Beloved, bless her heart, offered to take another video camera to another set . . . and I thank her for it . . . but perhaps my readers have some suggestions.

I know!  Come to Sweet and Hot and help me solve the dilemma of abundance.  By the time Labor Day weekend is over, we’ll have worked something out.  Right?

WISHING WILL MAKE IT SO

Every jazz fan who’s’ ever owned a record, a CD, or even a download has a mental list of recorded music he or she has never heard but yearns to hear.  I’m not talking about the Bolden cylinder or the Louis Hot Choruses, but here are some new and old fantasies.  Readers are invited to add to this list (my imagined delights are in no particular order).

The 1929 OKeh recording of I’M GONNA STOMP MISTER HENRY LEE — what would have been the other side of KNOCKIN’ A JUG, with Louis, Jack Teagarden, Eddie Lang, Joe Sullivan, Happy Caldwell, and Kaiser Marshall.  Did Jack sing or did Louis help him out?  Was the take rejected because everyone was giggling?

The “little silver record” of Lester Young, circa 1934, probably one of those discs recorded in an amusement park booth, that Jo Jones spoke of as his earliest introduction to Pres.  When I asked Jo about it (more than thirty-five years later), he stared at me and then said it had disappeared a long time ago.

On the subject of Lester, the 1942 (?) jam session supervised by Ralph Berton, who broadcast some of the results on WNYC — the participants were Shad Collins, Lester Young, J.C. Higginbotham, Red Allen, Lou McGarity, Art Hodes, Joe Sullivan, Doc West . . .

UNDER PLUNDER BLUES by Vic Dickenson, Buck Clayton, Hal Singer and Herb Hall: from the session released on Atlantic as MAINSTREAM.  We know that the tapes from this and other sessions were destroyed in a fire, but the fire seems to have happened almost eighteen years after the recording.  Hmmm.

The 78 album Ernest Anderson said he created — one copy only — for the jazz-fan son of a wealthy friend, a trio of Harry “the Hipster” Gibson, Bobby Hackett, and Sidney Catlett.

The 1928 duets of Red McKenzie and Earl Hines.

SINGIN’ THE BLUES, by Rod Cless, Frank Teschemacher, and Mezz Mezzrow.

DADDY, YOU’VE BEEN A MOTHER TO ME — by Lee Wiley, Frank Chace, Clancy Hayes, and Art Hodes, recorded at Squirrel Ashcraft’s house.  (I’ve actually heard this, but the cassette copy has eluded me.)

Frank Newton’s controbution to the 1944 Fats Waller Memorial Concert.

The VOA transcriptions from the 1954-55 Newport Jazz Festivals — Ruby Braff, Lester Young, Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, Jo Jones; Lee Wiley, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Vic Dickenson; Billie Holiday, Lester, Buck, and Teddy Wilson.  (I have hopes of Wolfgang’s Vault here.)

Some of these are bound to remain out of our reach forever; some are tantalizingly close.  But the Savory discs show us that miracles of a jazz sort DO happen.  As do the acetates Scott Black rescued from a dumpster in New Orleans.

What discs do you dream about?  This post, incidentally, has been taking shape in my mind for weeks, but what nudged it towards the light was our visit to a wonderful Berkeley, CA flea market / second-hand store called BAZAAR GILMAN, where there were records.  No revelations, but a splendid mix of oddities, including a few RCA Victor vinyl home recording discs and a few Recordio-Gay ones.  All full, with dispiriting titles such as WEDDING MARCH, BERCEUSE, and PIPE ORGAN.  But one never knows!

While you’re up, would you put on those airshots from the Reno Club, 1935?  (There was a radio wire: how else could John Hammond have heard the nine-piece Basie band in his car?)

THINKING AHEAD . . . . TO SAN DIEGO 2011

I suppose it’s childlike, but as my November birthday approaches, I still think, “Well, what would you like for your birthday?”  (I talk to myself, but often it’s silently.)  Gone are the days when I wanted a new cassette recorder or a particular record.

Having escaped from several cocoons, I now think much bigger, and my current wish has the Beloved and myself going to San Diego for the 32nd Annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival!  (Their website is www.dixielandjazzfestival.org.)

It takes place during what I think of as Thanksgiving weekend — Nov. 23 – 27, 2011, and it’s held in the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North (I-8 & SR-163) San Diego.  A five-day all events badge is $95.00.

All that’s necessary but not pulse-pounding information.  Here’s the real stuff — the featured bands and guest artists.  If I were to decode the list below because some of the band names might be unfamiliar, I get excited about Bryan Shaw, Howard Miyata, John Reynolds, Ralf Reynolds, Marc Caparone, Katie Cavera, Sue Fischer, Clint Baker, Tim Laughlin, Hal Smith, Marty Eggers, Bob Havens, Chris Dawson, Leon Oakley, Connie Jones, Justin Au, Carl Sonny Leyland, Stephanie Trick . . . and many more.  (Apologies to those friends whose names I’ve left out through ignorance.)

Here are some of the bands!

Cornet Chop Suey • Red Skunk Jipzee Swing • Dave Bennett Quartet

High Sierra JB • Reynolds Bros. Rhythm Rascals • Titanic JB

Yerba Buena Stompers • Uptown Lowdown • Grand Dominion JB

Tim Laughlin/Connie Jones & the New Orleans All Stars

Night Blooming Jazzmen • Sue Palmer and her Motel Swing

Katie Cavera • Carl Sonny Leyland • Stephanie Trick

High Society JB • Dixie Express JB • Red Pepper JB

Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra • Mission Bay High Dixie Band

Dick Williams’ JazzSea Jams • And more to come…

Now if I can just explain to JetBlue that the Beloved and I get their special Birthday rates, we’re all set . . . .

Look at http://www.dixielandjazzfestival.org/pdfs/flyer.pdf to learn more!

ELLA AND LOUIS AND THE ART DIRECTOR

Let’s say you have sheet music (apparently from 1968) for a 1931 song — once recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, now brought back again (with odd chords) by Mama Cass.  But you run a small music publishing company, and a picture of Mama Cass costs too much, as does a portrait of Ella and Louis.

What to do?  Use your imagination.  Before there was computer-generated “clip art,” I think there were art directors with blunt-end scissors, clipping pictures and arranging them in ways that can only be described as “arresting.”  I know that this collage-portrait of Ella and Louis left me speechless . . . . see for yourself!

Anyone wish to analyze the semiotics of that shot, or perhaps the heuristics?

LEARN TO PLAY THE PIANO THE JOE SULLIVAN WAY

I would if I could.  Wouldn’t you?

First lesson below.  Practice this for next week, and remember not to rush!

“PLAY IT TILL 2051!”

On the original Bluebird 78 of Earl Hines’ BOOGIE WOOGIE ON THE ST. LOUIS BLUES, one of the musicians shouts, “Play it till 1951!” which might, even in 1940, have seemed short-sighted.  1951 has come and gone, so might I suggest an updated shout, even though that due-date is a mere four decades away?  These thoughts are motivated by this piece of sheet music for sale on eBay:

I don’t expect to be around in 2051, but hope earnestly that the music Earl Hines made is still being accessed or downloaded from some computer storage cloud, somewhere.  Here’s what I have in mind:

“Don’t quit now, Jack!”

RAY SKJELBRED’S CHICAGO RHYTHMS (June 2011)

I was on the phone with my dear Aunt Ida today (you all know her by now) and our words turned to our friend and hero Ray Skjelbred.  I said, “Gee, I should post more of those videos of the Cubs that Rae Ann Berry (another friend and heroine) took at the jazz festival in June! ”

Here are four more that show why we love Ray for so many reasons!  And his Cubs: Katie Cavera on guitar; Clint Baker on bass; Jeff Hamilton on drums; Kim Cusack on reeds.

Something for Bix!  BIG BOY:

And for Fats!  SQUEEZE ME:

And for Joe Sullivan!  GOT IT AND GONE:

And what the gentle-spirited but hard-swinging Mr. Skjelbred is all about: CHICAGO RHYTHM:

Music by jazz masters — music to feel better by!  Thanks to Aunt Ida, Rae Ann, Ray, Kim, Katie, Clint, and Jeff, as ever.

LISA MAXWELL SINGS HAPPILY

The fine pianist, arranger, and scholar Keith Ingham left a message on my phone in July, saying that he had recorded a session with a singer who was very good and whom I would like.  Keith hasn’t been wrong yet.

Thanks to Keith, I had the pleasure of hearing Lisa Maxwell, and I hope you will share that pleasure.

Her brand-new CD, accurately called HAPPY,  is just out on CDBaby and will be on iTunes in a few days.  It will soon be available in the tangible form (disc plus notes plus jewel box) that some of us love so well.  Whatever form you find it in, it’s delightful.

Easy on the ear, as they used to say, but not Easy Listening.

The CDBaby link is http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/LisaMaxwell1

There, you can hear brief samples of each track — samples that should give you a clear idea of what a genuinely unaffected singer Lisa is.

Here are the notes I wrote for HAPPY, which will give some indication of how much I like the music she and her friends made:

When Keith Ingham says, “I have a singer I’d like you to hear,” you pay attention, because he has worked and recorded with Maxine Sullivan, Peggy Lee, Susannah McCorkle, and many more.

And then Lisa Maxwell’s voice comes out of the speakers and you bask in her exuberant confidence.

Lisa has all the virtues any singer could ask for. Her voice is appealing; her rhythm glides; her phrasing is all her own. She knows that each song is its own little playlet. Without dramatizing, she lets the song itself take center stage.

Unlike many singers who toy with or obliterate lyrics, Lisa deeply respects the words, “How I adore the brilliance of those writers, how their words form the picture! Then they’re intertwined with the notes that project the story into another dimension.” She sings with a deep intuitive awareness; the lyrics are not simply a series of syllables to get through. Her understanding of the music comes through in every bar: she isn’t tied to the notes, but she respects the composer’s intention while she rides the rhythm easily. Listen as she takes the twists and turns of I’LL TAKE ROMANCE, how nimbly she threads through SUNDAY IN NEW YORK.

Lisa’s gentle, floating approach creates vistas of sound and feeling. She doesn’t strain or emote, but gets inside each song and makes it glow. She sounds light-hearted, innocent, but the illusion of such artlessness can only be given us by a mature artist. Lisa has a sufficiently strong personality to simultaneously embrace the shade of Billie Holiday on YOU CAN’T LOSE A BROKEN HEART and to make her own way within the song.

She believes in the songs she chooses to sing, and a conversational candor animates MY HEART GOES WITH YOU and THIS IS ALWAYS. Throughout this disc, Lisa’s second choruses build on her first; she’s a low-key but effective improviser.

Much of the repertoire is familiar, but she gently makes these songs new, “I’ve done many of them many times, some less so, one (“My Heart Goes With You”) never. I loved the idea of being totally spontaneous in these sessions, along with Keith, and gave him complete freedom to arrange in any way he wanted. I wanted to be collaborative, to share in the purest sense, to go along for the ride. I want everyone to be “Happy” and everyone involved deserved their solos, their chances to shine. I love their work.”

And the playing is delightfully cohesive: Keith’s supportive lines, with never a superfluous note; Frank Tate’s deep woody sound and his splendid pulse; Al Gafa’s muted chimes, Steve Little’s padding brushwork; Ben Wittman’s just-right percussive seasonings.

Keith’s arrangements are full of irresistible pleasures: the interpolation of MANHATTAN in SUNDAY IN NEW YORK; the joyous swing of IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING and BLUE MOON, the start of JUNE NIGHT that suggests that some JIVE AT FIVE at a campsite might have helped this summer evening be a memorable one.

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME sounds so genuine in its sweet seriousness, with Keith’s piano underscoring every note. In Lisa’s unaffected delivery, the wistful message comes through with delicacy and strength.

Lisa says, “I have a long relationship with this song, going way back to my studying at HB Studios in the Eighties. Working on this song, I was torn to shreds by my teacher for “not feeling it.” I was never going to accept that. Keith and I did it in one take, at the end of our two day recording session.”

Another understated masterwork is her version of THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL. Hear how Lisa handles the bridge of that song, a passage many singers flatten. Her deep, gentle sincerity comes through – she’s smiling, not resigned, “This song is my personal “Over the Rainbow,” painting a picture of the most sublime, simple life. A perfect home, a perfect setting, a perfect relationship, involving children, and the acceptance of time passing, and things changing and remaining optimistic.”

The music from these sessions reminds me of a time, not so long ago, when jazz and “popular music” co-existed and drew strength from each other: when Joe Wilder and Milt Hinton and Barbra Streisand and Bobby Darin worked together – a golden time, taken for granted, but not forgotten. And we have Lisa Maxwell to thank for this happy marriage of classic American songs and swinging chamber music.

She refuses to show off, to be the Star. Rather, her singing takes us gently inside the lyrics and the melody, helping us hear afresh what they say and embody about our shared experiences. And by her very graceful approach to these songs, she wins our hearts.

It all comes back to Lisa’s title for this CD, “I think my approach is both happy in my delivery, which will, I hope, make people feel happy as they listen. Additionally, I am FINALLY happy with myself as a singer. It has been a long, determined road for me, all about wanting to get good, and “owning” my interpretations. I have been driven since I was eight years old, and I believe the voice, whether speaking or singing, is MY way to express my soul. Singing is a very physical experience for me, deep inside.”

To Lisa Maxwell, “Each tune is a story to me,” and HAPPY lets us hear and learn from a superb storyteller.

PERFECT YOUR SWING! (September 11-15, 2011)

Now that I have your attention, would you like to perfect your swing?  I don’t mean you could become the next Bobby Jones, but you could become a better jazz musician or singer by studying with the pros!

In the old days, you could learn your craft by apprenticing yourself to a master craftsperson.  The guilds are long gone, but the idea of studying with the Masters is still appealing.  I don’t suggest that you need to learn Japanese or become certified as an electrician, but here’s the jazz version of such an opportunity — my idea of the Princeton Institute For Swing:

CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION PRESENTS

THE CHAUTAUQUA TRADITIONAL JAZZ WORKSHOP

Dan Barrett, Music Director

September 11-15, 2011

Faculty:

Duke  Heitger, Trumpet

Scott Robinson, Reeds

Dan Barrett, Trombone

Rossano Sportiello, Piano

Howard Alden, Guitar / Banjo

Kerry Lewis, Bass

Ricky Malachi, Drums

Rebecca Kilgore, Vocals

Chautauqua’s first-ever Traditional Jazz Workshop will be held on the beautiful grounds of the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, with your home base at the historic Athenaeum Hotel.  The 4-day session will include ensemble workshops, coaching, jam sessions, and performance opportunities in student groups and with faculty members.  Students will focus on jazz standards and works from the American Songbook, with emphasis on improvisation and ensemble performance.  Enjoy social events with faculty and fellow students on beautiful Chautauqua Lake.  The workshop culminates in a performance opportunity at the opening session of the 14th Annual Jazz at Chautauqua traditional jazz party on Thursday evening.

Tuition for the workshop will be $550 USD; the lodging and meal package at the Athenaeum Hotel will be $525 per student (single occupancy) or $775 (double occupancy) USD.  Stay on for the annual Jazz at Chautauqua party and receive a 20% discount on your food and lodging.  For reservations at the Athenaeum, call 1-800-821-1881 or email athenaeum@ciweb.org.  For information about the workshop, contact Nancy Griffith at 216-956-0378 or email her at nancylynngriffith@yahoo.com.

And if you have never thought of learning to play C JAM BLUES on the trombone, please don’t rule this idea out.  The jazz fans of my generation lament the impending demise of traditional jazz.

Why not give the art form we love a blood transfusion from young folks — your guitar-strumming grandson of yours who has just discovered Teddy Bunn, or that niece who is trying to play Cootie Williams’ growls on BENNY’S BUGLE.  Of course, it could also have a secret didactic purpose: turning a young man or woman slightly away from heavy metal to floating swing.  Attending this workshop and learning from these genial masters could be a life-changing event.

And you don’t have to be a raw youth to come aboard, either . . . if you yourself would like to sound more like Benny Morton or Tricky Sam Nanton, this is a heavensent opportunity.  Or you might sign up for the singers’ workshop just to learn from Rebecca Kilgore how to sing more sweetly!

See you in Chautauqua, and don’t be late!

THE QUEST, THE HUNT, THE SEARCH (August 2011)

The Beloved and I have been savoring in our extended California holiday, and when we arrived near Berkeley, I said, quietly, “There’s a famous record store I want to go to.  It’s called Amoeba Records.”  She agreed; she encouraged me to do it early in the day.  That’s what she’s like!

I’d learned about Amoeba from that world-traveler and generous soul David Weiner, who had told me of its wonders and even brought back a rare Condon disc for me.  So I had visions of bins full of oddities and heart’s-desire-discs . . . you know, “Oh, my goodness, I’ve been searching for this for years!”

It wasn’t the Arabian Nights, but I didn’t go away empty-handed.

While I was rapt, silent, fascinated, the photographer Lorna Sass caught me unaware, a pilgrim on the jazz quest.

Photograph by Lorna Sass

The photograph shows how impressive Amoeba is — reminiscent of The Real Thing many of us knew so well in the pre-compact disc / download / online purchasing days.  I am amused by the accurate likeness: my left hand is ready to move along the browser to the next possible purchase, while my right hand holds the Latest Object of Desire for consideration.  The stance of the experienced record buyer, I think.

What I am holding in my right hand indeed turned out to be A Prize: CHRISTL MOOD, a 1985 Phontastic Records session I’d never heard of featuring the Ellington trumpeter Willie Cook with “the young Swedes,” among them the magnificently swinging pianist Ulf Johannsson.  $2.99 plus California sales tax, which is exactly what the new Hawaiian shirt (decorated with Japanese-style sketches of turtles and pineapples) cost a few days ago at Goodwill.

And should you see me deep in contemplation at a record store, do come over and say Hello, although I might jump, startled, being so intensely involved in The Quest.

LEE WILEY by CULVER PICTURES

I’d love to know the circumstances of this glamorous shot — Lee, highly made up and posed, elaborately dressed, as if she were Lupe Velez.  Notice her dark hair (dyed or a wig?) and the dark lipstick . . .

A mysterious discovery — annotated long after the fact, since zio codes came in perhaps thirty years after Miss Wiley posed so glamorously.  Can anyone explain?