Last night, while in an eBay reverie, I was grazing through the meadow of Entertainment Memorabilia, sub-section Jazz, sub-sub section Original Autographs, when I found these three artifacts. To some, they may seem irreplaceable treasures; to others, just weird debris. The first seller had purchased a huge collection of Danish paper ephemera and added it to his already expansive holdings, the latter laid out for your pleasure here.
I’d never seen an Oscar Pettiford autograph before, and this one is from the last years of his too-short life. The red diagonals suggest that this is, rather than an autograph for a fan, the return address — upper left corner — taken from an air-mail envelope. Whether that increases or decreases value, I don’t know. I haven’t identified the Copenhagen hotel, but since the autograph would be, at latest, from 1960, it is possible the hotel no longer exists:
And here is a very touching and brief remembrance of Oscar with guitarist Attila Zoller — performing Oscar’s THE GENTLE ART OF LOVE in Denmark, perhaps not that far away in time from the envelope above:
Then, something more odd: a photograph of Irving Mills and two men I don’t recognize, inscribed lovingly to film star Dorothea Summers, from whose collection this came:
and a magnified inscription:
Here is a promotional short film (or most of it) from 1931, where Irving Mills introduces three of his bands: Baron Lee and the Blue Rhythm Orchestra; Duke Ellington (with pleasing closeups of Arthur Whetsol), and Cab Calloway, with Al Morgan stealing the scene. I thought that glimpses of Mills, reading from the script on his desk, would be easier on the nerves than his singing:
Finally, something I found exciting, even though it isn’t inscribed. Louis Armstrong had a heart attack in June 1959, and I now assume that he received get-well cards from everyone who loved him . . . that’s a-plenty. I had never seen his singularly Louis thank-you card, and a collector possessed not only the card but a publicity photograph that may have come with it:
I would like you to commit Louis’ poem to memory, please:
Here’s Louis in 1960 on the Bell Telephone Hour — magnificent readings of SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, LAZY RIVER, and a heartbreaking SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS CHILD, before a MUSKRAT RAMBLE that puts Louis with a modern version of the Mills Brothers who sing a version of the lyrics from BING AND SATCHMO:
May your happiness increase!