The brilliant clarinetist and saxophonist Frank Teschemacher died in 1932 — and today, March 13, we celebrate his birth. Ordinarily I don’t indulge in too much of “Z would have been 107 today,” because there are living musicians and living music to celebrate . . . but for Tesch, I can’t help but break my own rule.
Serious, high-strung, educated . . . Tesch seems an unlikely explorer, but he was obviously looking for new sounds: his solos leap at the listener with raw energy, a kind of divine fearlessness. Here he is with Eddie Condon, Joe Sullivan, and Gene Krupa, on July 28, 1928, for OH, BABY!
And even though the online world is full of scraps and debris, wonderful enterprises emerge — who would have thought of a blog entirely devoted to Tesch, with photos I had never seen? But here it is: teschology
Wild Bill Davison’s plaint — after Tesch had died in an auto accident in Bill’s car — “Where are we going to get another sax player like Tesch?” (or words to that effect) has, I think, been misread as coldness . . . but the question has never been satisfactorily answered. And it raises a larger question. I miss Tesch, although I was born well after his death, and he lived — by the usual measures — far too short a life. But I wonder: did he accomplish all that he was meant to do in those years? Who can tell? And I think of a line from Yeats’ elegy for Major Robert Gregory, “What made us dream that he could comb grey hair?”
Gone, gone, gone.