On Wednesday afternoon, the OAO and I will board a plane to fly to Eureka, California, for the Redwood Coast Music Festival, which will swing out from Thursday afternoon, September 29, to Sunday evening, October 2. I’ve spent the last hour (this is being written Monday night) with a green highlighter, marking off the sets I would like to attend. This creates a problem. Look at the musical landscapes:
Thursday and Friday:
The problem is not with the green highlighter, I assure you.
The problem is with its owner, faced with one hundred sets of live music. Plenitude like this induces a case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that’s nearly incurable.
If I take myself, camera, notebook, and tripod to X’s set, then I have to miss Y’s. (I am not naming names for obvious reasons.) You may say that this is a serious case of first-world-jazz-entitlement, but the swing struggle is real. There are a number of instances on this schedule where three groups I would like to see are performing at separate venues simultaneously.
I know that such lavishness is reason to embrace this festival as the music-cornucopia-for-the-ages, but I have yet to find a solution short of hiring several friends and training them as associate camera-people (and don’t think I haven’t tried).
Come to the Redwood Coast Music Festival! Bring iPhones and cameras! Help me with my Festival Disorder! (And have the time of your life at the same time.)
That is all I will say. Except that if I were able to make it to a mere fifteen or eighteen sets in four days (a faint hope) I still will go home full to bursting with splendid music.
We believe that everything is knowable. After all, we have Google.
This post is about a ninety-year old artifact that pretends to offer up all its secrets. The oddly appropriate cliche is that it is “an open book,” but its secrets are hidden.
I can’t figure out whether the owner’s name is “Jack E. DuTemple” or “D. Temple,” and no online map turns up a Robert Street; rather, I get sent to Roberts. I never met Jack, but I have faith that he knew where he lived. The last entries in this book are dated Christmas 1933, so that is clear.
THIS JUST IN, thanks to Master Sleuth David Fletcher:
John E. “Jack” Detemple, 1908-1968. Because you knew I would… 🙂 Jack worked in a Binghamton shoe factory along with his dad. Thank God he was a music nut! He ended up in Sidney NY, a longtime Mason and a machinist for Bendix Corp. Several kids– no doubt one of them treasured Dad’s autograph book (and maybe his old records too).
Here is a tour of the music Jack heard in 1933.
Ten miles north of the Pennsylvania border, Johnson City, New York is not a metropolis; 15,174 population in the 2010 census. But obviously dance bands came through towns of that size: in 1933, there were more ballrooms and “dance halls” for bands of all kinds. And Jack seems to have been a happily avid listener and perhaps dancer, enjoying both hot and sweet sounds, Black and White groups, famous and less so. The autograph book speaks to his enthusiasm, but also to the variety of live music available to audiences in the Depression. Yes, there was unemployment and breadlines, but there were also men and women making music all over the country, and creating it for actual audiences . . . not people staring into lit screens. I would say flippantly that we have more but they had better.
And “provenance.” I’ve had this book for about ten years. It was a gift from my dear friend and inspiration Mike Burgevin, who found it in an upstate New York antique shop, bought it, and saved it for me, knowing that some day I would share it on the blog. For this and so many other kindnesses I bless him.
My photographic captures are admittedly amateur, but, then again, JAZZ LIVES is not a high-level auction house.
So now you can see how the fabled Jack Pettis signed his name. Hardly a common sight. And perhaps some reader can tell us more about Dick Fidler (?) and Pauline Wright. Google has let me down, which returns me to my original thought: da capo al fine. But energetic readers of JAZZ LIVES now have many more sweet and hot rabbits to chase.
I first wanted to call this post THE DEATH OF HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS, but that title, although accurate, seemed too ponderous to be chewed and swallowed. So the BBC-mystery title shall stand. And the blank tombstone.
Maybe it’s collective amnesia, but can people forget what they never acknowledged to begin with?
What do I mean?
I have a large collection of photographs, and I found an extra one of a famous musician, an 8 x 10″ glossy with him in playing position, which I brought with me to a gig led by a then young artist who shone on the same instrument, someone of great promise. I gave him the photo, he looked at it, then at me, and said, “Who is that?” I confess that my first stifled reaction was annoyance, but I didn’t succumb; I didn’t rip it out of his hands. I identified the famous subject, and said, “Would you like it?” and he gratefully said he would.
That’s an extreme case. Is it innocence, shallow awareness, or something more?
But I’ve gotten into conversations with musicians I admire deeply, and bringing up some perhaps obscure name of a player on their instrument, the reaction is often a faraway look, with some embarrassment, and “Ohhhhhh. _______________. I’ve heard of them before, but never had the time to really investigate. Are they good?” And I think to myself, “You are a wonderful artist, but you haven’t put in the time studying the art as it exists and existed beyond your own mouthpiece, or fingers . . . ” It’s not limited to archaeology, for I’ve met North American musicians who live on one coast who are ignorant of great contemporaries on the other.
Now, these may be the rare exceptions, because I have met enough deep musicians who can discourse at length about the Ancestors: Mildred Bailey, Gene Krupa, Ben Pollack, Mouse Randolph, Pete Brown, Tiny Parham, Bernard Addison, and three dozen more. But when I meet this sort of sweet obliviousness, this easy acceptance of ignorance, it makes me cringe and then wonder. Where I come from. a lack of curiosity is a moral problem.
(I won’t linger on those who believe anything before Coltrane isn’t worth listening to, or those who “can’t hear” anything recorded before KIND OF BLUE because it’s so “primitive” and the sound is so poor. Their loss. Their substantial loss.)
You can say, “Well, these young cats are busy honing their craft, making a living, hustling from gig to gig. They don’t have the leisure time you do, Michael, to study the oeuvre of Frank Chace,” and you’d be right. But there is an odd technological twist to this situation: when I was a boy, I didn’t have to walk miles through the snow, barefoot, but much of the recorded history of jazz was not easily accessible to me. But I listened to as much as I could — from records I bought, from the local library’s collection, from FM radio. I learned as much as I could from books and liner notes. There was no Facebook; I didn’t start to have a jazz community of people who leaned as I did until I was almost out of high school.
Given YouTube and Spotify, and other digital resources, if a young pianist wants to hear nearly everything Teddy Wilson, let us, say, ever recorded, she has only to make sure her iPhone is charged and her airbuds in peak condition. I purl though YouTube some days and am open-mouthed at the rarities now easily available. The cornucopia is overflowing for those who are curious, eager to learn more about the art by which they define themselves.
I am reluctant to call this willful self-absorption, but some centuries ago, you couldn’t begin to call yourself A Poet if you hadn’t memorized, imitated, improvised on, analyzed the great works of the past. Serious study was your ticket of admission to the guild of craftspeople. If you wanted to be play cello in a string quartet, you had to have a deep immersion — practice and theory — in Haydn, Mozart, and the Elders. I never taught Creative Writing, but I have friends who do, and when students introduce themselves, “I’m five hundred pages into my novel,” and the question is asked, “What are you reading?” and the answer is either a blank stare or perhaps one contemporary author. Austen, Woolf, Joyce, Faulkner — new phone, who dis? Imagine an aspiring modernist painter who has never seen Kandinsky. Then imagine a young tenor saxophonist to whom the names Harold Ashby and Tubby Hayes are just names.
I wonder how an alto saxophonist can say, “Hey, I practice eight hours a day from the REAL BOOK, and I’m working on my own conception,” but never have heard Hodges, Carter, Pete Brown, Hilton Jefferson, to name four Ancestors. Yes, most modern jazz players know their Trane and Miles, but beyond that . . . ? (We can of course blame Jazz Studies programs in universities that begin in 1945, but they are too easy a target.)
I mentioned Frank Chace before, and when I asked him about his youthful immersion in the music, I said, “In 1954, did you also listen to Lee Konitz?” and his answer was an immediate, “We listened to everything. We thought that was a musician’s job.”
In recent years, I might meet a young pianist deeply immersed in Bud Powell, which is of course admirable. But when I ask, “Hey, have you heard Nat Cole, Billy Kyle, Kenny Kersey, Clyde Hart?” and the answer is “Who?” I have to say, “They are where Bud came from, pianists he heard.” “Oh.”
The musicians I’ve depicted (or you may think, slandered) above are myopic but they can be helped: no twelve-step program is needed. You’re a young trombonist and you’ve never heard of Bill Harris? Here’s five minutes of convincing . . . and curiosity takes over. Conversion isn’t the desired end, but education is.
But when I consider how this myopia has undermined the listening audience, I get even more depressed. I won’t even bother to invent fanciful names for imaginary bands (although I toyed with The Too-Tight Polo Shirt Collective and The Birkenstock Buskers for a moment) but I will just call them all SFB, for Someone’s Favorite Band.
So a fan I encounter after a festival set which includes some too-hasty Jelly Roll Morton compositions, complete with long drum solos, comes to me ecstatic, saying, “Wasn’t that wonderful?!” and I politely but sourly say, “They really made a mess of SHREVEPORT STOMP,” and I get what is casually called “the fish-eye,” but I continue. “Do you know that song? Have you ever heard the original version? Do you know the Morton trios, James Dapogny’s recordings, or the Bob Wilber versions?” and the fan is already starting to back up, appalled by pedantry. I imagine myself shouting down the corridor, “Omer Simeon! Barney Bigard! Tommy Benford!” as the traumatized fan runs off and calls for Security.
Or, even more prevalent, the fan wearing the SFB shirt and giving the secret SFB handshake applauds a rendition of some obscure jazz classic made rustic, the melody flattened, some important chord changes missed, and the verdict is, “They are the greatest band I’ve ever heard!” which may be true, simply because the ecstatic listener has heard no one else. Who’s Clarence Williams? Who’s Floyd Casey?
You may call my perspective a snobbish one, but it is as if (for readers who eat cheese), “Manchego? Brie? What’s that? Nothing’s better than Cheez Whiz in a can.” Go to it, I think. But I am declining any dinner invitations from you, no matter how nice you are.
And perhaps the fans feel that SFB is “keeping the music alive,” and if you count the millions of YouTube visits to videos by Someone’s Favorite Band, perhaps they are. But if the fans of SFB will only follow them, because they are The Truth, other worthy and more worthy bands go under for lack of gigs. The fan base becomes intensely narrow . . . and you cannot build a tall building on an upended plastic cup.
Years ago I might have despaired because I couldn’t hear the Ellington Fargo 1940 dance date. Now I can hear it whenever I want, and I despair because other people haven’t taken the time to hear it. Devoted fans. Eminent musicians.
Those who ignore history may not be condemned to repeat it. But if people don’t descend deeply into the art form they say they love, they are cutting off its air and are missing out on breathtaking creations. It’s all spread out on the cyber-table. But one has to start one’s own investigation, and see a reason to do so.
It wasn’t, as the expression goes, a “one-shot deal” when the EarRegulars lit up both the street and our hopes by playing two glorious sets at 326 Spring Street on May 2, 2021. Nay nay, as Louis says. Rain got in the way the next week, and a few inhospitable droplets spattered the faithful on May 16, but the skies cleared and the EarRegulars did it once again — Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Joe Cohn, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass. Here are three marvels from their first set. And before you immerse yourself in video-recorded joys, let me point out that Jon-Erik, Scott Robinson, Pat O’Leary, and Chris Flory will be playing there again on May 23, 1-3:30. Neato, peachy keen, and just swell.
LULLABY OF THE LEAVES, featuring the eloquent Neal Miner:
And musically saying the YES! we all felt, ‘DEED I DO:
There’s more to come from this session, but if you can make it to 326 Spring Street on Sunday, May 26, from 1-3:30, joy and swing will be there to greet you in a now-permitted embrace. No livestream at the moment, but if you want to contribute to a virtual tip jar, let me know and I will pass the information on to The EarRegulars’ Accounting Division.
James Dapogny at Jazz at Chautauqua, September 2014. Photograph by Michael Steinman.
I am never sure how closely the audience at a live performance is paying attention to the details of the music being created in front of them. Because I have spent a long time considering the subtleties of this holy art, I believe I hear and see more near-collisions than those who (happily) absorb only the outlines of the music.
I’m not boasting: my over-attentiveness is like being the person at the movies who can notice that a character went out the door in one scene with a green scarf and when we see her in the next shot — no scarf. . . not exactly like having perfect pitch, but the analogy might work.
Today, I am going to show-and-tell an experience that I happened to capture for posterity (or, perhaps, “for posterior”). I present it not to embarrass the musicians I revere, but to praise their collective resilience, ingenuity, and perseverance. In this case, that redemption in 4/4 is because of my hero, Professor James Dapogny, who might have cocked a skeptical eyebrow at what I am doing and said, “Michael, do you really need to do this?” and I would have explained why.
For those who already feel slightly impatient with the word-offering, I apologize. Please come back tomorrow. I’ll still be at it, and you will be welcome.
An uncharitable observer might consider the incident I am about to present and say, “Well, it’s all Marty Grosz’s fault.” I would rather salute Marty: without a near-disaster, how could we have a triumphant transformation? Or, unless Kitty escapes from her basket and climbs the tree, how can she be rescued by the firemen? Precariousness becomes a virtue: ask any acrobat.
But this is about a performance of I WISHED ON THE MOON that Marty and Company attempted at Jazz at Chautauqua on a late morning or early afternoon session in September 2008, along with Duke Heitger, trumpet; Dan Block, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Chuck Wilson, alto saxophone; Dan Barrett, trombone; Professor Dapogny, piano; Marty, guitar and vocal; Vince Giordano, string bass; Pete Siers, drums. The amateurish camera work in bright sunshine is evidence that it was one of my sub rosa escapades: I was using a Flip camera and trying to not get caught by the authorities.
We know Marty as a peerless work of nature: guitarist, singer, wit, artist, vaudevillian. But many might not be aware that one of his great talents is arranging. Yes, he can uplift an impromptu session on BACK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD, but he loves the effects that can be created by any ensemble with directions sketched out on manuscript paper and then hastily explained on the spot: “No repeats!” “jump to letter D,” “trumpet break at the start of the last chorus,” and so on. Marty works hard on these things, and his earliest recordings — although he dismisses them as “‘prentice work” — show him in pursuit of the ideal: swinging, varied, surprising, effective.
But he is happier with pen and pencil than with the computer, so a Marty score is handwritten, in calligraphy that is italic, precise, lovely, but not as easy to read (especially in dim stage light, seen for the first time, without rehearsal) as the printed scores many musicians are used to in this century.
Thus, the possibility of chaos. Thus, the possibility of triumph.
In the recording studio, when things start to go awry, musicians used to look at each other and break into a sort of Twenties near-hokey jamming, away from the score, and the “take” would end in laughter. A “breakdown,” the recording engineer would call it. Or the engineer would give a piercing whistle, to say, “Let’s start over.” You can hear this on “rejected takes” by Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, and many other jazz heroes, that have been saved over the decades. They are reassuring proof that our jazz-deities are human, that people get off on the wrong foot, that someone missed a cue or made a mistake.
In performance, though, in front of an audience, musicians do not want to stop and say, “We loused this up. Let’s start over,” although I have seen it happen: it is the equivalent of Groucho speaking directly to the audience in a film, “breaking through the fourth wall,” and it is always surprising.
But back to our musical and heroic interlude. I WISHED ON THE MOON is made famous by Billie Holiday, but it is not by any means a classic, a standard, part of “the repertoire” so often played that musicians perform it with full confidence (take AS LONG AS I LIVE as an example of the second kind). MOON has its own twists and traps for the unwary. The very expert musicians in this band, however, had at most been given a minute or two before the set to know the tune list and to glance at the manuscripts Marty had given them — roadmaps through the treacherous landscape. But since everyone on this bandstand is a complete professional, with years of sight-reading and experience, it would not have been expected that they needed rehearsal to play a song like MOON.
That Marty gives directions to this crew before they start suggests to me that they hadn’t seen his score before, nor would they stand in front of the audience studying it and discussing it. Professionals don’t want to give the impression that they are puzzled by any aspect of their craft while the people who have paid to see and hear them are waiting for the next aural delicacy to be served.
Thus, Professor Dapogny, who “knew the score,” plays his four-bar introduction with verve and assurance. He knows where he is. But the front line is faced with a score that calls for Dan Barrett, master melodist, to play the theme while the reeds back him up, and Dan Block, another sure-footed spellbinder, plays the bridge neatly. Marty has his eyeglasses on — to read his own chart — and he essays a vocal, trusting to memory to guide him through the mostly-remembered lyrics, turning his lapses into comedy, more Fats than Billie. While this is unrolling, the Professor’s rollicking supportive accompaniment is enthralling, although one has to make an effort to not be distracted by Marty’s vocalizing.
I feel his relief at “having gotten through that,” and lovely choruses by Duke Heitger and Dan Block, now on tenor saxophone, follow. However, the performance has a somewhat homemade flavor to it — that is, unless we have been paying attention to the Professor’s marking the chords and transitions in a splendidly rhythmic way: on this rock, he shows us, we can build our jazz church. He has, in the nicest and most necessary way, taken charge of the band.
At this point, my next-seat neighbor (there by chance, not connection) decides she needs more lemon or a napkin; her entrance and sudden arising are visually distracting, even now.
But, at around 3:55, the Professor says — with notes, not words — that he himself is going to climb the ladder and rescue Kitty; he is going to turn a possibly competent-but-flawed performance into SOMETHING.
And does he ever! — with a ringing phrase that causes both Marty and Dan Block to turn their heads, as if to say, “Wow, that’s the genuine article,” and the performance stands up, straightens its tie, brushes the crumbs off its lap, and rocks. Please go back and observe a thrilling instant: a great artist completely in the moment, using everything he knows to focus a group of adult creators towards a desired result that is miles above what would have resulted if he had blandly played an ordinary accompaniment.
And you thought only Monk danced during his performances? Watch Marty, joyously and goofily, respond to what his friend Jim has made happen. After that, the band must decipher Marty’s swing hieroglyphics, his on-the-spot directions, “Play a fill!” and someone — to cover up a blank spot — whistles a phrase, and the performance half-swings, half-wanders to its conclusion. Relief sweeps the bandstand.
These five minutes are highly imperfect, but also heroic: great improvisers making their courageous way through territory where their maps are ripped, unreadable, and incomplete — refusing to give up the quest.
If you need to understand why I have written so much about Professor Dapogny, why his absence is a huge void in my universe and that of others who knew and love him, watch this performance again for his masterful individualistic guidance: Toscanini in a safari jacket. Completely irreplaceable, modeling joy and courage all at once.
My dear friend Michael Burgevin, drummer and artist, told me that when the trumpeter Joe Thomas would begin to address an audience, he often would say, “If I may . . . ” which seems the height of an eighteenth-century courtesy. I have borrowed his words, and I hope, a light tread, for what follows.
I know that of late I have chosen to utilize JAZZ LIVES as a place to raise funds for one or two worthy jazz enterprises. Both Kickstarter endeavors have met their goals, so I am hoping for a third kind of generous good luck.
Mosaic Records is in financial trouble. Learn more about them here.
Please read this, from co-founder Michael Cuscuna.
Dear Mosaic Friend,
In this time and place, the Mosaic business model is becoming harder and harder to sustain in this rapidly changing world. We aren’t sure what the future will hold for us, but we want to let all of you know how much we appreciate that your support has allowed us to constantly make our dreams come true with set after set and that we intend to persevere. The way we operate may change but our mandate remains steadfast.
Charlie Lourie and I started Mosaic Records in 1982 and our first releases were in 1983. The company was almost an afterthought. The idea of definitive boxed sets of complete recordings by jazz masters at a crucial time in their careers was a small part of a proposal that we made to Capitol Records in 1982 to relaunch the Blue Note label. Even before Capitol turned us down, it occurred to me one night that the release of these boxed sets could be a business unto itself if we made them deluxe, hand-numbered limited editions sold directly to the public.
Our first release was The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Thelonious Monk, which came about because I’d found about 25 minutes of excellent unissued Monk on Blue Note. It was too short for an album and I was obsessed with how to get this music released. . It then dawned on me that all of this important material needed to be retransferred and assembled in chronological order as a significant historic document. I solved my problem of releasing those 25 minutes of Monk music and Mosaic Records was born. We had a wonderful run of projects. The Tina Brooks, Herbie Nichols, Serge Chaloff, Count Basie and Nat Cole sets were among those that were especially near and dear to our hearts.
Charlie was my best friend and working together was a joy. Mosaic was slow getting started and it took a few years before we could even draw a meager salary. I remember during those lean years worrying if we could afford to put out a Tina Brooks set. Charlie looked at me in amazement. “Isn’t that why we started this thing – to do what’s important without anyone telling us no?!” He only had to say it once.
In 1989, we moved out of Charlie’s basement and into our own facility. Scott Wenzel joined us in 1987. We added employees as the business grew. We started issuing sets on CD as well as LP and eventually had our own website.
We lost Charlie to scleroderma on December 31, 2000. We managed to keep the tone and spirit of the company up to the level that Charlie created and continued to put out thoroughly researched vital sets of importance in jazz history. But in the early 2000s, the record business began to shrink and morph for a variety of reasons and we were forced to downsize our staff, move to smaller quarters and reduce the flow of sets.
We’ve always tried to be diligent about warning you when sets were running low so you wouldn’t miss out on titles that you wanted. But at this point, some sets which are temporarily out of stock may not be pressed again. We are not certain how Mosaic Records will continue going forward or how many more sets we will be able to create and release. We’ve got a lot of great plans but few resources.
Scott and I want to thank every single person who has supported us, made suggestions, given advice and shown us such love and affection. If you are thinking about acquiring a certain set, now’s the time.
– – Michael Cuscuna
If you love jazz and if you follow this blog, you know what beautiful productions the Mosaic label has created — for everyone from George Lewis and Kid Ory to Andrew Hill. The sets, which are limited editions, are a jazz fan’s dream: rare material, intelligently and comprehensively presented in lovely sound, with rare photographs, deep research, and wise annotations. When Mosaic first started, I was not terribly financially secure, so, although I coveted many of the sets, I could only purchase a few. (I had the vinyl collection of the Blue Note Jazzmen and the CDs of the Condon Columbia sessions and the Buck Clayton Jam Sessions, and I treasure them now.) Incidentally, a word about cost: one of my role models used to say, “You amortize,” which — once you remove it from the mortgage broker’s vocabulary — means that an initial investment pays off over time. I know it might strike some as specious reasoning, but a $150 purchase, savored wholly two times, costs one-half each playing . . . and one can, I suppose reach the philosophical accounting point where the set is now for free.
About “for free,” while those slippery words arise. We have long been accustomed to getting our art for free. (And, yes, I do understand that the videos on JAZZ LIVES are in some ways a manifestation of the problem — although I put money in the tip jar when I video, as a token of love and gratitude.) One can drown in free music on YouTube — often in poor sound, inaccurately presented — or on Spotify — where the artists receive at best pennies for their work. Or one can burn a copy of a CD and give it away. All those things are, to me, the equivalent of lifting sugar packets from the cafeteria to fill the sugar bowl at home. But that is, simply, not nice, and it denies the artist or the artist’s heirs proper reward. Mosaic Records is an honest company, and people get paid. And quality product and quality work is never free.
I am not an accountant. I cannot promise that if many of JAZZ LIVES’ readers treat themselves to a Mosaic Records set, it will do the trick of keeping the company solvent. But I would like to see an outpouring of love and support for this very spiritually and musically generous company. If you haven’t got the money for a set, perhaps you can wheedle your family members into buying you an early birthday or holiday present. Or you can assemble the jazz-lovers you know and collectively buy one. I made a purchase this afternoon.
In my time as a jazz fan, I’ve seen clubs vanish (the Half Note and two dozen others) and record labels come to a stop. Radio stations (WRVR-FM) have gone silent. Rather than say, “Gee, that sucks!” (in the elegant parlance of the times) and look for the best buy on Mosaic sets on eBay, why not ride to the rescue NOW? I would rather not have to lament the hole in the universe where this beautiful enterprise used to be.
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?
Hereis 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.
One of the quietest of my heroes, lyrical brassman Danny Tobias, has a new CD. It’s called COMPLETE ABANDON — but don’t panic, for it’s not a free-jazz bacchanal. It could have been called COMPLETE WARMTH just as well. And it’s new in several ways: recorded before a live audience — although a very serene one — just last September, in the 1867 Sanctuary in Ewing, New Jersey.
The CD presents a small group, captured with beautiful sound (thanks to Robert Bullington) “playing tunes,” always lyrical and always swinging. The cover photograph here is small, but the music is endearingly expansive. (Lynn Redmile, Danny’s very talented wife, took the photo of Mister T. at the top and designed the whole CD’s artwork.)
Danny is heard not only on trumpet, but also on the Eb alto horn (think of Dick Cary) and a light-hearted vocal on LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER. He’s joined by his New Jersey friends, the very pleasing fellows Joe Holt, piano; Paul Midiri, vibraphone; Joe Plowman, string bass; Jim Lawlor, drums. And both in conception and recorded sound, this disc is that rarity — an accurate reflection of what musicians in a comfortable setting sound like. The tunes are I WANT TO BE HAPPY; DANCING ON THE CEILING; MY ROMANCE; LOTUS BLOSSOM; COMPLETE ABANDON; THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU; THIS CAN’T BE LOVE; LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER; I’M CONFESSIN’; EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY; GIVE ME HE SIMPLE LIFE; THESE FOOLISH THINGS; PICK YOURSELF UP.
You can tell something about Danny’s musical orientations through the song titles: a fondness for melodies, a delight in compositions. He isn’t someone who needs to put out a CD of “originals”; rather, he trusts Vincent Youmans, Billy Strayhorn, Richard Rodgers. He believes in Count Basie, Bing Crosby, and Louis Armstrong, whether they are being joyous or melancholy. Danny has traveled long and happily in the sacred land of Medium Tempo, and he knows its most beautiful spots.
When I first met Danny — hearing and seeing him on the stand without having had the opportunity to talk with him (this was a decade ago, thanks to Kevin Dorn and the Traditional Jazz Collective at the Cajun) I delighted in the first set, and when he came off the stand, I introduced myself, and said, “Young man, you’ve been listening to Ruby Braff and Buck Clayton,” and young Mister Tobias heard and was gracious about the compliment.
Since then, I’ve understood that Danny has internalized the great swing players in his own fashion — I’m not the only one to hear Joe Thomas in his work — without fuss and without self-indulgence. He doesn’t call attention to himself by volume or technique. Rather, to use the cliche that is true, “He sings on that horn,” which is not at all easy.
Danny’s colleagues are, as I wrote above, his pals, so the CD has the easy communal feel of a group of long-time friends getting together: no competition, no vying for space, but the pleased kindness of musicians who are more interested in the band than in their own solos. The vibraphone on this disc, expertly and calmly played by Paul Midiri, at times lends the session a George Shearing Quintet feel, reminding me of some Bobby Hackett or Ruby Braff sessions with a similar personnel. And Messrs. Lawlor, Plowman, and Holt are generous swinging folks — catch Joe Holt’s feature on GIVE ME THE SIMPLE LIFE.
To purchase the CD and hear sound samples, visit here. Or you can go directly to Danny’s website— where you can also enjoy videosof Danny in a variety of contexts.
CDBaby, not always the most accurate guide to musical aesthetics, offers this assessment: “Recommended if you like Bobby Hackett, Louis Armstrong, Warren Vache.” I couldn’t agree more. And I’m grateful that the forces of time, place, economics, and art came together to make this disc possible. It is seriously rewarding, and it doesn’t get stale after one playing.
JAZZ LIVES has made it possible for me to have friends all over — certainly more friends than I would have envisioned in middle school. One of the most able is the swinging string bassist Jen Hodge, whose work I’ve admired on a number of CDs with Bria Skonberg, Glenn Crytzer, Evan Arntzen, and other assorted Arntzens. She’s also a charter member of the Company B Jazz Band, whose name makes more sense when you remember the Andrews Sisters’ recording about the boogie-woogie bugle boy of . . .
A sample of what Company B does with spirit:
For those who’d rather watch and listen than read, here’s the reason for this post:
Company B Jazz Band, of which Jen is an integral part, has been together since 2006, performing in 3-part close harmony style à la the Boswell and Andrews Sisters (though Company B also has transcriptions in their repertoire from other harmony groups of the era, such as The Keller Sisters & Lynch, the Mills Brothers, etc, as well as many of their original arrangements).
For more information about the band, please visit their site.
At the Boswell Sisters Revue concert in New Orleans last Fall, organized by Kyla Titus and featuring 3-part harmony groups from around the world, they were the only Canadian group at that prestigious event. Now Company B is once again the only Canadian band invited to play at a prestigious festival, but this invitation is both more impressive and slightly more difficult to accomplish.
Company B Jazz Band has been invited to perform at the Nanjing International Jazz and World Music Festival in China this October. Their hot music will be heard all across the province Jiangsu, in a dozen different venues and municipalities. It’s onerous enough to move six band members (plus wardrobe, instruments, equipment) within the United States and Canada . . . but the trip from here to China poses its own problems.
You can guess what might be next in this post. Readers of JAZZ LIVES might know that I have some reluctance to use this blog as a platform for fundraising, but I do it when the request feels right. Introducing Chinese listeners to the music of the Sisters Boswell and Andrews . . . as well as the others — this seems like a fine idea. International relations, you know. And I don’t write a post such as this without making a contribution on my own.
Here is the INDIEGOGO page — where you can read about the rewards for contributing, and find out more about the band.
Start with Boswell harmony, and who knows what kind of global harmony might result?
Eddie Erickson and Becky Kilgore, striking a pose in 2008
If you don’t know Eddie Erickson, I humbly suggest that your life has been incomplete. “Fast Eddie,” as he’s also called, is many things: a swinging solo and rhythm guitarist; a blazing banjoist; an incomparable clown and vaudevillian; a remarkably moving ballad singer. I first encountered him as one-third or one-fourth (who’s counting?) of B E D, named for Becky Kilgore, Eddie, and Dan Barrett, with essential swing counseling from the “silent J,” Joel Forbes.
Here is Eddie as the captivating balladeer (in 2011, with Sue Kroninger and Chris Calabrese):
Here is Eddie as the wonderful swingster (in 2014, with Becky Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Rossano Sportiello, Nicki Parrott, Ed Metz):
Here is Eddie the irrepressible comedian, making old jokes seem new (in 2014, with Johnny Varro, Bria Skonberg, Antti Sarpila, Nicki Parrott, Chuck Redd):
How could a man so ebullient have medical problems? Well, if you know Eddie, you know he’s recently recovered from serious heart surgery — a replacement valve — and is slowly, slowly doing all right. He is recovering at home.
But he has expenses to pay. You know what those white envelopes that come from the hospital, the medical group, and other people look like? He’s got a pile of them. And a free-lance jazz musician, a Swing Troubadour, is not always a bourgeois sort with a regular salary. So if you can’t gig for some time while recovering . . . you can imagine.
(This is not, I assure you, an empty appeal. I don’t like to use JAZZ LIVES to sell products or to raise money — but this afternoon I walked to the mailbox and sent a check before writing this blogpost.)
“Here’s the deal,” as Eddie and Bill Dendle would say.
This little appeal for funds has been vouched for by Sue Kroninger, someone I trust deeply, and I’ve just gotten off the phone with Elinor Hackett, someone who loves Eddie sincerely — another secular saint.
Elinor, a dear friend/fan/supporter of Eddie (indeed a supporter of trad jazz, youth programs, festivals and live music) has opened an account at Chase, which will be used to collect any donations to help Eddie in his efforts to get well and pay his medical bills. Eddie has given so much love to so many people throughout his life, that it seems fitting that this time it’s his turn to receive some love in return. At the moment, the account is in Elinor’s and Eddie’s sister, Diane’s name — Eddie will be able to access the money when he is a little stronger.
Thanks for giving this your attention. Please pass it along to anyone who you feel might also be interested. I know that many people who love Eddie don’t always have computers or spend as much time on them as we do.
Please send as ample a check as you can to Elinor Hackett at the address below. Make the check out to Elinor, and write “Gift of Love to Eddie” in the memo space of your check. Mail it to Elinor Hackett, 9037 Mojave Dr, Sacramento, Ca 95826-4521.
All checks will be logged and deposited in this special “Love Eddie” account.
Questions? Email email@example.com / phone 916-363-8895
And a few lines for me: it is more blessed to give than to receive, and the joys of doing a kindness last longer than the pleasure one has in being the recipient. I don’t want to belabor the point, but I shall: if everyone who’d ever laughed hilariously or grown teary at a performance by Eddie Erickson sent him the price of a Starbucks coffee or a two-pound bag of supermarket potato chips, he would never have to worry.
Thank you for reading this. And thank you even more on Eddie’s behalf.
In my childhood, my parents were towering figures — ever-present, vocal, impossible to ignore. I was so busy interacting with them that daily routines drove out the possibility for deeper introspection about them. I had only to venture out of my room and there they were. Even if they were not physically present, they were my interior soundtrack — approving or disapproving, lecturing, reminding, explaining.
But they are now physically absent, although spiritually present. As I age, I wish I could speak candidly with them, to ask the questions my younger self was unable to phrase and they might have been unwilling to answer. My parents now seem characters in an unwritten novel, unpredictable, complicated beings I muse over. They have taken their secrets with them, but I imagine their spirits approving of my efforts to understand, my willingness to keep them alive in my thoughts.
I believe that other adult children feel as I do.
I have always been especially interested by the children of jazz musicians, whose parents must have been equally fascinating but perhaps more inscrutable, because of atypical nocturnal lives. So I am particularly intrigued to learn of a new documentary in the making, WARNE MARSH: AN IMPROVISED LIFE — not only because I admire the music that saxophonist Marsh created, but because the documentary is being made by his adult son, K.C. Marsh.
I have some ambivalence about putting appeals-for-money into this blog, but I applaud K.C.’s efforts to make this film — both as a tribute to a musician who should be known more widely, and as his own effort to find out who his father was and is. (So, yes, I have sent a little money of my own.)
Here is a sample of Warne’s music — he, Paul Chambers, string bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums, playing JUST SQUEEZE ME in 1958:
I look forward to K.C. Marsh’s attempt to understand both that floating sound and the man who made it. Perhaps, as he comes to comprehend his father, it will help others of us unlock the lives of our parents as well. For their sake and for ours.
I have to thank the writer / musician Dave Gelly for increasing my happiness immeasurably. In Gelly’s AN UNHOLY ROW (Equinox), his delightful book on British jazz and its audiences between 1945-60, this sentence appears on page 93, in Gelly’s survey of the Fifties work of clarinetist Wally Fawkes: “Particularly revealing is the playing of Spike Mackintosh (1918-1986) who, perhaps more than any other trumpeter, catches the grave elegance of classic Armstrong.”
“Grave elegance” is a lovely phrase, and since I am a continuing student in what Ruby Braff called the University of Armstrong, it stuck in my mind. About ten days ago, I ordered a copy of the Lake Records CD compilation, FLOOK DIGS JAZZ (Lake LACD 143).
The original vinyl issue of FLOOK DIGS JAZZ on Decca
The first track, Cole Porter’s WHY CAN’T YOU BEHAVE, so affected me that I played it over and over again. Listen and you will understand (even though my homemade video presentation is amateurish):
That’s Wally, clarinet; Eddie Harvey, trombone; Ian Armit, piano; Lennie Bush, string bass; Eddie Taylor, drums — recorded March 24, 1957. Wally, of course, always catches my ear because of the depth of his beautiful sound, his placement of notes, and the rest of the band is quite fine.
But hearing Spike Mackintosh was a wonderful revelation to me. (He was another rebuke to Philip Larkin’s “Larkin’s Law” that states if a musician or band was any good, you would have heard of him / her / them by now.) Spike, at first, might sound to the casual listener an expert Louis-copyist, but that isn’t the case.
Spike does so much more than put one Louis phrase next to the other to create a solo; he has his own beautiful, graceful sense of that idiom while making it his own. Rather like Joe Thomas, he is delicate rather than overstated; he builds a solo from melodic embellishment to grand architecture, with the effect being sun bursting through clouds. Love, not caricature, drives his lyricism. No handkerchiefs.
I wanted to find out more about Spike, and was very pleased to see that writer Ralph M. Laing devoted half of his beautiful liner notes on the man himself. Since he knew Spike, these words are precious.
I first heard Spike play around 1956 in the regular Thursday night session at the ‘100’ Club in Oxford Street. He was an unlikely icon, always dressed in jacket, shirt and tie, relatively small in stature, with black semi-chastened hair, and RAF moustache and accent to match. On stage he drank what he fondly imagined we all believed to be tea from a cup and saucer (in those days the ‘100’ Club had no liquor license). And he played quite beautifully, in the later style of his idol, Louis. He was featured by Al Fairweather and Sandy Brown in 1956 on the seminal SANDY’S SIDEMEN (on LAKE LACD133); indeed his feature High Time is the most melodic of the eight Al Fairweather originals which made the album so remarkable. The melody was sold by Spike with such majesty and melodic simplicity that it remains for me one of British trad’s finer moments.
More derivative of Louis than Al, his nearest stylistic contemporary, Spike concentrated on tone and economical phrasing. While both had a gorgeous sound for which most other British brass players would kill their mothers, Al strove to create his own style. Spike on the other hand believed that there would never be another sound as perfect as mid-period Louis. All his life he sought to emulate this majesty. And, on the basis of these recordings alone, it is fairly evident that, at his peak, he has yet to be equalled in Europe. His solo on Talk of the Town is a masterpiece of subtle simplicity, while he roared above the band on When You’re Smiling with the same sort of regal authority which we think of as Louis’ sole province. Half a dozen of Britain’s finest trumpet players, including Spike, congregated to greet Louis on the Heathrow tarmac when he briefly flew into London in December 1956 to play for the Hungarian Relief Fund at the Royal Festival Hall. The player who caught Louis’ ear was Spike.
Wally and Spike had much in common. To begin with their musical education was similarly weighted towards the swing music of the 1930s. Today’s readers will find it difficult to realise that any British players who had reached any prominence by the mid-1950s were probably self-educated from a relatively small number of 78rpm records. Most of what little jazz was available in our shops came from Parlophone, HMV and Columbia, and we bought everything we could. Then we played it until the black grooves turned grey. Stylistically we didn’t really care. Although, of course, we could differentiate between, say, the type of music played by the Hot Five, the Goodman Quartet, Fats Waller, Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson, we were so grateful to get our hands on any new re-releases at all that ideology was a non-starter. Sectarian warfare was only to raise its head with the Born Again movement, which surrounded Ken Colyer on his return from the promised land of New Orleans. But for most of us, by the mid-1950s our fate was cast. Our tastes were catholic and fundamentalism was unlikely to recruit us as converts. Both Wally and Spike, to be sure, fell into this category.
As well as being good friends, Wally and Spike also shared another bond. In the heady days when these recordings were made it was perfectly sensible (and eminently feasible) for talented semi-professional jazz musicians to turn professional. Most of my pals, several with university degrees and all with their heads well screwed on, made the jump. Others, however, had occupations which it would have been foolhardy completely to jettison. For example, Sandy Brown was bent on building his practice in acoustic architecture. By 1957 Wally was one of Britain’s most respectedcartoonists, and Spike ran a sizeable family timber business. And neither relished life on the road.
I was lucky enough to know Spike reasonably well towards the end of his life, as he religiously made the annual trip to the Edinburgh Festival. He, Stan Greig and I would usually end up indulging in Spike’s two favorite pastime — listening to jazz records and indulging in good conversation until the small hours. He was still dapper, and, although he always carried his trumpet with him, was inordinately reticent about playing. These 21 tracks (plus High Time on Sandy’s Sidemen) represent, to the best of my knowledge, his entire recorded work. It is a relatively small legacy in size, but a substantial one indeed in quality. British jazz may never see his like again, more’s the pity.
At this point, I must thank Paul Adams of LAKE Records for issuing both FLOOK DIGS JAZZ and SANDY’S SIDEMEN, and direct readers to the LAKE site, as well as being grateful to Ralph M. Laing for his memoir.
I could find very little information on Spike online. Here, for example, is the only photograph that emerged — from the LAKE reissue of SANDY’S SIDEMEN, with Spike the barely visible figure third from right, “dapper” indeed:
I was astonished to find that Ian Robert “Spike” Mackintosh was father of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the famous West End theatre producer, responsible for LES MISERABLES and CATS. When Sir Cameron was interviewed in THE SCOTSMAN, September 20, 2012, he had a few words — a little more derisive than affectionate, perhaps — about his father, once the interviewer set the stage:
[Sir Cameron’s] connections to Scotland go back through generations. His grandfather came from the east coast, his great-grandfather from Raasay, and his great-grandmother from Skye. His father was Scottish: a brilliant jazz trumpeter who put aside his instrument to take over the family timber yard.
“His heart was in jazz. He played with Louis Armstrong, who gave him one of his trumpets. The great clarinet player Ian Christie said that ‘between drinks three and nine Spike Mackintosh was a genius’.” He roars with laughter. “After that, beware…”
His Maltese mother was the pragmatist to his father’s dreamer. “I inherited her drive and his dreaming,” Sir Cameron says. “We had very little money. A chicken on a Sunday was a treat. My mother was amazing at keeping the family together.”
Another mention of Spike came from the obituary for Melody Maker editor Jack Hutton, 28 August 2008, THE INDEPENDENT:
Hutton’s retirement from Spotlight in 1987 was celebrated with a party at Ronnie Scott’s club in London, where he played trumpet on stage in a jam session. In later years he enjoyed playing trumpet regularly with a trad jazz group and was a founder member of the Codgers Club with former Fleet Street pals Ian Christie (clarinet), Peter York (bass) and fellow trumpeter Spike Mackintosh, the father of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the theatre producer. The club met regularly in Covent Garden and Hutton played trumpet with their band, dubbed “The Codgers” by his wife, inspired by the Daily Mirror’s “Old Codgers” letters column.
I think that someone who created such beauty and was also so “reticent” deserves even more attention than I have been able to offer here. I have asked people here and in the UK for information and memories of Spike. I have written to Wally Fawkes (now ninety and no longer playing); I have sent an email to the official Sir Cameron Mackintosh site, but so far no revelations. Spike should be better known and more fervently celebrated. Inspired by our greatest hero, he shone his own light for us.
I’ve been a fan of the sweet-voiced singer Molly Ryan since I first heard her, live and on recording, and she has only become more subtle and more affecting with each year. Her natural warmth, her easy swing, and her friendly approach to the song are inspiring. Molly’s made two CDs with friends — SONGBIRD IN THE MOONLIGHT and SWING FOR YOUR SUPPER, both refreshing reminders of what swing singing was and can still be.
Now, she’s poised to make a third one, which is good news. But a self-produced recording is an expensive business. I’ve been reluctant to write fund-raising appeals here, lest JAZZ LIVES turn into JAZZ ASKS, but I make an exception in this case, since I look forward to the CD and to supporting Molly and her friends in making the world safe for music.
Those friends? Dan Barrett, Adrien Chevalier, Kevin Dorn, Joel Forbes, Dick Hyman, Dan Levinson, Randy Reinhart, John Reynolds, Mark Shane, Bria Skonberg. And the sounds will be captured by the noted recording engineer Stewart Lerman.
Here you can find details of amounts one can pledge and the appropriate rewards; you can see Molly’s direct appeal in her own music video, and you can come away with the feeling that you have done something direct to support the music and musicians we admire so.
The Beloved is very proud of me and what I do, something I treasure. And in this spirit, she will often introduce me to someone she’s just met who has expressed an interest in music, and say of me, “This is the Sweetie: he has a jazz blog.”
I smile at the person after this identifying statement and wait patiently. Sometimes the reaction is, “Oh, you like Miles?” and I can then explain that my heroes are Louis, Lester, and their living friends. But more often than not the response is polite silence. And a fixed look often comes over the other person’s face — somewhere between puzzled, being struck dumb, having nothing to say, wishing the subject had never been brought up, feeling ignorant, feeling threatened.
I think it has something to do with the ominous, oppressive word
which for a variety of reasons seems to leave people with nothing to say in return.
I am willing and often able to converse on other subjects: the deliciousness of the food, the delights of Northern California, the other person’s interests, where the good places to eat are, how lovely or horrid the weather has been . . . the usual run of non-threatening conversation.
But simply introduce JAZZ into the conversation and the room falls silent. Is it that people don’t like it, don’t understand it, and are thus reluctant to talk about something so esoteric, so outre? Really, I have no intention of holding forth about, say, an alternate take of an unissued Jabbo Smith 78 I have found after decades of searching. I am not going to lasso the New Person and force him or her to listen to me play THAT’S MY HOME (badly) on the cornet, or compel him or her to watch my latest YouTube clip.
But someday I am going to try an experiment, and ask the Beloved to introduce me as a) someone who collects rare books; b) builds harpsichords; c) flies model airplanes; d) has a Lionel train setup in the basement; e) is learning the tango; f) rides an adult-size tricycle everywhere; g) just came back from a trip to Wisconsin . . . and see if the petrified stare comes out in the same way. I wonder what it is about JAZZ that produces such silence?
Note: I have not written this post as an inducement for the cognoscenti to tell me how we are live in a cultural wasteland; how Americans are so stupid; how no one knows anything. Ranting about a current offense to taste is, to me, tedious. I don’t encourage angry contemptuous bashing here, and hope I have not been guilty of it myself.
There surely is a story here. The photograph (offered for sale on eBay) depicts Velma Middleton, Louis Armstrong, Barney Bigard, Jack Teagarden, a barely-in-the-frame Arvell Shaw and an almost-hidden Sidney Catlett:
That in itself is a find: new documentation of that wondrous constellation of musicians is enough for me. We know that this photograph was taken some time between 1947 and 1949, Big Sid’s time with the band.
But here’s what’s on the back:
Pianist / singer / composer Joe Bushkin played with the All-Stars, but several years after this photograph was taken. Does this artifact refer to the 1947 gathering where Louis and the band recorded Joe’s composition LOVELY WEATHER WE’RE HAVING as a wedding gift to the Bushkins?
I would be most eager to dial SUPERIOR 0026 if I knew that the person on the other end was in some way connected to this photograph.
For extra credit: we see three partially obscured letters behind Louis. What words are we missing?
Postscript (as of 10:30 PM Eastern time, September 3): the photograph is still available on eBay: click here).
Here’s Part One and here’s Part Two of this glorious — although understated — musical experience that we had at the Bickford Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey. Thanks to Randy Reinhart, Mark Shane, James Chirillo, Brian Nalepka, Kevin Dorn, and Bruce Gast for the good feelings and uplifting sounds.
ONE HOUR (a solo for Mark):
ATLANTA BLUES, also known as MAKE ME A PALLET ON (THE) YOUR FLOOR:
A very charming medley from MY FAIR LADY, delivered by our fair James:
CRAZY RHYTHM, where Brian shows us what that rhythm can do:
And a rousing closer — PANAMA:
My only regret is that there isn’t a Part Four, Five, onwards. But I am grateful for the pleasures of this evening, and Bruce Gast has a number of fine jazz evenings planned for the future. Check out the details in Part One or Two — worth the trip!
And the award for BEST SEARCH ENGINE TERM of February 2013 goes to . . . .the envelope, please . . . .
fats waller , hew york, meatballs, ralph sutton
Make up your own story — a late-night Italian feast in “hew york,” by Mr. Waller, later recreated by Mr. Sutton?
And the award for LEAST ATTRACTIVE PRURIENT INTEREST IN THE DEAD for February 2013 goes to . . . . the envelope, please . . . .
billie holiday naked pictures
Perhaps a long period of recovery in the fresh air might be prescribed for that writer? (For myself, I would like all the people who are fascinated by “Billie Holiday” — and the quotation marks are accurate — to listen to her recordings. Nothing else.)
If you’ve been reading the dolorous saga of the Red Knapsack, you know that I have come to a decision.
Against the advice of my invisible accountant and my nonexistent financial staff, I have ordered another (identical) camera, batteries, tripod . . . the minimum.
Frankly, I have become so attached to the idea of video-recording the best music for JAZZ LIVES and for posterity that if I thought I couldn’t do it, I would be seriously depressed.
More than a dozen of my pals have suggested that I should start a Kickstarter program to raise money; I should solicit contributions. “If there’s anything I can do, please let me know,” a number of dear people have written.
I am so uncomfortable asking people for money that it is nearly a phobia. It may be that I am truly aware that I am a member of a privileged class, and that millions of people across the world would consider my privations to be an indescribable luxury. How many people, after all, don’t have computers, cameras, blogs — you can finish the list. A video camera is a serious luxury to people who aren’t warm or well-fed or well-housed.
But enough people have asked me to set something up, so I have. It is a PayPal account, and I’ve seen that it works.
Now — in deep seriousness and sincerity — I am not counting friendship and love in dollars. I will love you no less if you can offer nothing. But I can promise you gratitude for anything you can do, comfortably.
So here it is. And I will say no more about this subject. Except THANKS TO EVERY ONE OF YOU.
Extra credit if you can identify the source of the title, too.
Here’s an appropriate soundtrack, I think — Henderson’s jaunty 1925 MONEY BLUES — with help from Louis, Joe Smith, and Hawkins:
TO MAKE A DONATION, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!
At great cost and expense, a major mystery has been solved.
But first, the problem.
Here’s Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra, with George Elrick singing GOT A BRAN’ NEW SUIT — music by Arthur Schwartz, words by Howard Dietz, from the 1935 revue AT HOME ABROAD, where the song was sung by Ethel Waters:
And here’s singing / tap-dancing Eleanor Powell’s version of the same song with the young Tommy Dorsey Orchestra:
After the bridge, the singer (male or female) sings of donning a “tiepin” or “stickpin,” that’s a genuine “Técla pearl.” In these versions, “Técla” rhymes with “Decca,” more or less — although the two most famous versions of this song — by Mister Strong and Mister Waller — pronounce the first syllable to rhyme with “week.”
Since Thirties men’s fashion is not a subject I have studied well, I thought the singers were referring to something particularly arcane: a “T-clasp pearl,” which suggested a jeweled tie clasp. I only found out that what they were singing was “Técla pearl” when I bought the sheet music for the song at an antique store about a year ago.
Trying to find out what kind of pearl a Téecla pearl was . . . . I must not have had my websurfer’s hat (the one with the light on) fastened correctly. So I despaired. I thought it would be another unsolved mystery. But then a friend recommended that I secure the services of Sir Damien Sitzfleisch, the world’s most successful tracer of the obscure. We haggled over price, but one we had agreed, results were immediately forthcoming. Hence and forthwith.
Serene and radiant.
And (circa 1923) there was only one Técla shop in America, so the wearer of such a pearl was someone of means who knew (and wore) the best. I’m also fascinated with the lyric as an early example of product placement, or perhaps giving a company a free advertisement . . . and that something so well-known in 1935 has become completely obscure today. With or without the accent over the first E (the sheet music lacks the accent, I believe).
In 1913, the Técla pearl was a standout in Germany:
It was especially ELEGANT in France in 1932:
And here — as a special treat — is the May 2012 version of this song (in G, no less) by John Reynolds, guitar and vocal; Marc Caparone, cornet; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Clint Baker, trombone; Katie Cavera, string bass. John knows about a Técla pearl, because I shared the results of my preliminary research with him . . . but he hasn’t seen the advertisements!
Not only is the mystery solved, but we get to hear John sing (twice), Marc and Clint, Ralf and Katie rock it for all time . . . !
And perhaps someone more gifted will share the Louis and Fats versions on YouTube if we all ask politely . . . ? Perhaps some JAZZ LIVES readers are specialists in early twentieth-century jewelry and can tell us more. But for me, anything that Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz created, that Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, Fats Waller, Eleanor Powell, Henry Hall, George Elrick, and the Reynolds Brothers s(w)ing out is important in itself. (There’s also an instrumental version by Ruby Braff and Dick Hyman on a wondrous Chiaroscuro recording, FATS WALLER’S HEAVENLY JIVE . . . )
You won’t find me wearing a string of Técla pearls at the next jazz party, but that’s only because they make my complexion look sallow.
P.S. 398 Fifth Avenue, once the home of Técla pearls, now is the home of a rug company. Nothing against rugs, mind you, but sic transit gloria mundi.
David Robinson, the fine cornet player and diligent traditional jazz educator, sent this YouTube appeal to me, writing, “I have an urgent appeal to all jazz fans on YouTube. Please have a look. It’s for a nonprofit educational purpose. It is only through opportunities such as this that the next Dan Barretts and Scott Robinsons will emerge.”
Please take a moment to visit the Kickstarter site to hear Franz’s daughter explain what she has started — not only a birthday celebration for Franz Jackson, the late Chicago reedman, but the 2-CD set of that concert. This project is a loving one: her father’s love for the music and Michelle’s love for him . . . and it deserves your support. If everyone whose life was gladdened by the music that Franz created gave a very small amount, the goal would be reached — and time is running out as I write this. All contributions must be made by Tuesday, July 10, 3:46 PM, EDT, to count . . .