No, JAZZ LIVES is not going away.  Nor is there some crisis.  Nor am I asking for money.  However, I would like my viewers to devote themselves to what follows, which will take perhaps ten minutes.

That man is pianist Junior Mance, born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1928.  Before he was twenty, he had begun recording with the stars we revere: Gene Ammons, Howard McGhee, Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, Dinah Washington, Clark Terry, Paul Gonsalves, Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson, Israel Crosby, Chubby Jackson, Art Blakey, Johnny Griffin, Cannonball Adderley, Sam Jones, Nat Adderley, Jimmy Cobb, Carmen McRae, Wilbur Ware, Bob Cranshaw, James Moody, Jimmy Cleveland, Bill Crow, Art Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie (he’s on the duet with Louis of UMBRELLA MAN), Leo Wright, Harry Lookofsky, Lockjaw Davis, Johnny Coles, Ray Crawford, Paul Chambers, Bennie Green, George Coleman, Eddie Jefferson, Louis Jordan, Irene Kral, Joe Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Ben Webster, Kenny Burrell, Mannie Klein, Shelley Manne, Etta Jones, Benny Carter, Jim Hall, Joe Newman, Milt Hinton, Richard Davis, Frank Wess, Wilbur Little, Jimmy Scott, Marion Williams, Les McCann, Dexter Gordon, George Duvivier, Carrie Smith, Ken Peplowski, Howard Alden, Milt Jackson, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Al Grey, Houston Person, Joe Temperley, Benny Golson, Jay Leonhart, Jackie Williams, Andrew Hadro . . . and I know I’ve left two dozen people out.

Next, in the world of jazz, one would expect a tribute.  Or an obituary. Or both.

But not a love story, which is what follows.

A few days ago, I was contacted by Sarit Work, co-producer of SUNSET AND THE MOCKINGBIRD, a not-yet-finished documentary about Junior and his wife, Gloria Clayborne Mance.  They have created a Kickstarter to help them finish the documentary.  The headline is “The love story of jazz legend Junior Mance and Gloria Clayborne Mance. As he loses his identity to dementia she reckons with her own.”

Being a man (although this may not be typical of my gender) I have less ability to cope with illness than women I know.  It’s terribly irrational, but I cringe at visiting people in hospitals, visiting the ailing, the dying . . . and so on.  There must be a name for this — call it “testosterone terror”? — which makes people like me hide under the couch, if possible.  Or in the car.  And dementia is especially frightening, because I am closer to being a senior citizen than ever before.  But Sarit was very politely persuasive, so I watched the trailer.

And it hit me right in the heart.

Junior has a hard time remembering, and he knows this. But he knows he loves Gloria.  And Gloria, for her part, is a lighthouse beacon of steady strong love.  It is not a film about forgetting who you are so much as it is a film about the power of devotion.

So I urge you — and “urge” is not a word I use often — to watch the trailer, and if you are moved, to help the project along.  It will be a powerful film, and I think that helping this project is very serious good karma.  Maybe it will protect us a few percent?

Here is the link.  Yes, the filmmakers need a substantial amount of money.  But anything is possible.  And, yes, I’ve already contributed.  And from this day (or night) the filmmakers have only EIGHT days to raise the sum they need.  So please help — in the name of jazz, in the name of love, or both.  In my dictionary, the two are synonyms.

May your happiness increase!


  1. Geez. Another in my series of life coincidences. We’ll call this a near coincidence. A couple of wks ago, I was telling my Junior Mance story to Banu and David B when they were here recently. Here ‘tis.

    Circa 2011-12, I read in the NYT that a 40 some odd year weekly jazz jam session led by then 99 yr old Leslie Lieber was coming to an end. Lack of funds, interest, logisitics. By luck I was able to get a phone for one of the guys quoted in the article (I think he had one of those rare names in NY like Schwartz or Finkelman) and chatted him up. He said the story was premature and there was no rush to get up to NY in May..that it was likely the sessions would resume in the fall. I told him, hell, if I was going to sit in with anyone 99, I had better do before he got that gig in eternity. So I bussed up to NY (that is not a fun experience bolt upright for 4 hrs) and walked down to the Gramercy Club, Gramercy Park.

    When it was my turn to sit in on drums, another gentleman sidled over to the piano and played ever, ever so beautifully. Gently, expressively and swinging unmistakenly. I felt lifted, inspired and for some bars went from a 5 to maybe 6.5. When I was done I was told the fellow on the piano was Junior. Sorry, but I admit I had never heard of him and looked him up when I got home. They were moments on the bandstand, Michael, I’ll never forget. Sorry to hear disappearing cognition is afflicting him – time can be cruel– I’ll click on the link.

  2. I am going to click on the link now, NM. I understand your hatred of all of the debilitating illnesses. .I feel the same way, I sadly, experienced it.
    After I watch the trailer I am going to look up Junior Mance…Hopefully to hear him play. Thank you so much for this very touching post. Much Love, Auntie

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