MARTY GROSZ, NOW AND THEN (March 4, 2020; June 6, 1951), and a POSTSCRIPT

Marty Grosz and Joe Plowman, Philadelphia, June 2020.

Before the world we knew or thought we knew morphed terribly into the appalling shapes it is now in* — and you can add details as you like — Marty Grosz had a ninetieth-birthday party in his hometown of some years, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I had the good fortune to be there, and documented the joyous proceedings here and here.

In my borough or perhaps burrow, it is only polite to inquire, “Will you have another?” so I offer just that.

At his party, where he gave us presents, Marty picks up “the riverboat violin” for the venerable WABASH BLUES — alongside Vince Giordano, tuba; Jack Saint Clair, Dan Block, Scott Robinson, reeds; Randy Reinhart, trombone; Jim Lawlor, drums; Danny Tobias, trumpet. The impatient among you — and you, along with the Corrections Officers and the Disapprovers, seem to proliferate — should be warned that Marty, as he is wont to do, tells a tale before the music starts at 7:50. Myself, I think Marty-narratives are valuable (have you read his autobiography, IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE: MY LIFE IN JAZZ, published by Golden Valley Press?) and the music that follows is of course also. This burst  of joy took place at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on March 4, 2020.

The official JAZZ LIVES copy of one of the two discs. Peruse and admire.

Marty would call his first official recordings — two 78 discs recorded for the Jolly Roger label (2003 and 2004) “prentice work” at best . . . but they are jubilant explosions of youthful ardor, by Hugh McKay, trumpet; Ephie Resnick, trombone; Frank Chace, clarinet; Dick Wellstood, piano; Pops Foster, string bass; Tommy Benford, drums.

And here are the four performances, thanks to archive.org.

I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU

SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE (here, “WOBBLE”)

DIXIELAND JASS BAND ONE-STEP

OH, BABY

And a note about the asterisk above — for those who read what I write, and thank you for doing so.  I have not felt much like blogging in the past few days: it seems trivial and even disrespectful to the people who suffer, who die and have died, to people who would like to breathe but find they are not permitted to, my peaceful friends who find themselves facing violence while bringing none, to post uplifting jazz music.

I won’t make any pompous claims about jazz being a bringer of peaceful relations.  It hasn’t always been so, either for musicians or listeners.  But I feel an obligation to spread joy in deep darkness, perhaps to remind ourselves that the human spirit is capable of acts that are generous and kind.  I hope you feel this too.

And if my “politics” offend you, if you applaud what is happening in your neighborhood, if you think the current regime is the best there ever was, if you praise a deceased musician of color but recoil from an actual person of the same hue taking a walk, please feel encouraged to cancel your subscription to JAZZ LIVES and find another source for music.  Kindly hold the door so it doesn’t slam, here and on Facebook. I will live through your defection.  And so will the music.

May your happiness increase!

7 responses to “MARTY GROSZ, NOW AND THEN (March 4, 2020; June 6, 1951), and a POSTSCRIPT

  1. Dan Morgenstern

    Dear Michael, Thanks for the early Marty’s not heard in years, Frank Chace is so special and so elusive got to know and appreciate in Chi. How can I purchase Marty’s book? Btw can’t really think of a time when race relations per se were bad in jazz. We should talk about that sometime when that becomes possible again— and it will, hope while I’m still here😉 Stay safe! PS Sent Marty b’day greetings email but never heard back, as was also the case some time before when I sent a note ( maybe high C)…. haven’t seen each other in years but were friends, same vintage and both imports, fathers knew each other…can’t think of anything I wrote that could have rankled. Am presently working on notes for eight CD set of Black&White label for Mosaic, very mixed bag but some nuggets, as you no doubt know…. Stay safe, as current usage goes, kinda nice… Dan

    >

  2. John C Graham

    Thank you for your words that finished the Marty Grosz article. Many of your readers have been around long enough to see various takes or episodes of this reality. Years ago I had talked with Sammy Price about some of his experiences when he was playing down south. That has never left me. It has been a slow journey. Hopefully, if we all make an effort-even a small one-behaviors and attitudes will begin to change. Keep up the good work.John

  3. Thank you, John!

  4. Barbara bengels

    You are amazing– a real mensch, the best of the best!

  5. Did I ever tell you about my sister, who taught me to read, and has been (even though she would deny it) a moral guide in my life? I must do so someday.

  6. Pingback: ALMOST LIKE BEING IN PHILADELPHIA, or ANOTHER ETUDE FROM THE MARTY PARTY: MARTY GROSZ, JOE PLOWMAN, BRENNAN ERNST, RANDY REINHART, JACK SAINT CLAIR, JIM LAWLOR, DANNY TOBIAS, VINCE GIORDANO, DAN BLOCK, SCOTT ROBINSON (World Cafe Live, March 4, 2020) | JAZ

  7. Pingback: ALMOST LIKE BEING IN PHILADELPHIA, or ANOTHER ETUDE FROM THE MARTY PARTY: MARTY GROSZ, JOE PLOWMAN, BRENNAN ERNST, RANDY REINHART, JACK SAINT CLAIR, JIM LAWLOR, DANNY TOBIAS, VINCE GIORDANO, DAN BLOCK, SCOTT ROBINSON (World Cafe Live, March 4, 2020) | JAZ

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