Tag Archives: Freddy Martin

JAZZ ARCHAEOLOGY, or A NEW TROVE

After my most recent venture into unexpected hot music (finding Lester Young and Charlie Parker 78s) Mal Sharpe told me I was a “jazz archaeologist,” which I take as a great compliment.

I have emerged from another rich unexpected dig, brushed the dust off of my khakis, taken my pith helmet off, and put down my shovels.  Here is my tale.

Yesterday afternoon, while much of the world was engaged in its own pursuits, the Beloved and I were meandering around Sebastopol, California: a paradise of nurseries and antique shops.  We arrived at one of our favorites, FOOD FOR THOUGHT ANTIQUES (2701 Gravenstein Highway South), a non-profit enterprise which gives the proceeds from its sales to the local food bank.  In the past, I’ve found some sheet music there and the odd record or two.  Nothing could have prepared me for the treasure that had arrived there four or five days ago. See for yourself:

Photograph by Lorna Sass

Photograph by Lorna Sass

Yes, perhaps eight hundred ten-inch 78 RPM records in their original paper sleeves. I thought the hoard had some connection to a record store, since many of the discs were blue-label Bing Crosby from 1936 onwards, but I was told that this wasn’t the case: a woman brought them to the store, explained that they were her much-loved collection, and that she now felt it was time to pass them on. I wish I could find out her name to send her thanks, but that might never happen.

And since you’d want to know, the records were one dollar each.

The first afternoon I went through about one-half of the collection: it was a good omen that the first record I picked up was the Victor ST. JAMES INFIRMARY BLUES by Artie Shaw featuring Hot Lips Page. Yes, there were many red-label Columbias by the early-Forties Harry James band, but that’s not a terrible phenomenon.

I gravitated towards the more unusual: KING JOE by Count Basie and Paul Robeson; a Bluebird coupling by Freddy Martin of MILENBERG JOYS and WOLVERINE BLUES; several Fats Waller and his Rhythm sides; a Bob Howard Decca; many Dick Robertson sides featuring a dewy Bobby Hackett; INKA DINKA DOO by Guy Lombardo on Brunswick; BLUE PRELUDE and WE’RE A COUPLE OF SOLDIERS by Bing Crosby on the same label; Johnny Hamp and Arnold Johnson; OLD MAN MOSE by Willie Farmer; a Meade Lux Lewis album set on Disc; Joe Sullivan and his Cafe Society Orchestra on OKeh; WHEN MY BABY SMILES AT ME by Ted Weems on Victor; a blue wax Columbia by Ted Lewis of TEN THOUSAND YEARS AGO — with his special label; a Johnny Marvin Victor solo and duet; THE LADY WHO SWINGS THE BAND (that’s Mary Lou Williams) by Andy Kirk on Decca; Bunny Berigan’s SWANEE RIVER; a Gene Kardos Melotone; the Rhythm Wreckers’ TWELFTH STREET RAG on Vocalion; the Bluebird BODY AND SOUL by Coleman Hawkins; JEEPERS  CREEPERS by Ethel Waters; Deccas by Lennie Hayton and Edgar Hayes.

(Who can tell me more about Willie Farmer?)

I returned this afternoon, and found the little flowered stool Valerie had offered me in the same place, so I resumed my inspection — many records but with far fewer surprises.  Wingy, BG, Fats, Jack Leonard, Ginny Simms, Bob Howard, Dick Robertson, Milt Herth (with Teddy Bunn and the Lion) and a few oddities. FOOTBALL FREDDY and FRATERNITY BLUES by “Ted Wallace and his Campus Boys” on Columbia (with, yes, Jack Purvis as the sole trumpet); the Mills Brothers singing lyrics to Pete Johnson’s 627 STOMP.  Les Brown performing two James P. Johnson songs from his 1939 POLICY KINGS: YOU, YOU, YOU and HARLEM WOOGIE. Jean Sablon singing TWO SLEEPY PEOPLE . . . and a few more.

I passed up a few country records, Julia Sanderson solos, Nat Shilkret and Charles Dornberger waltzes . . . but the collection was a rich cross-section of good popular music of the Thirties and middle Forties, with a few detours into the late Twenties. No specialist jazz labels, no country blues rarities — but the middle-of-the-road pop music of that period was rich and honest.

I feel honored to be partaking of this experience — this voyage into a time when Freddy Martin and Coleman Hawkins occupied the same space in the collective consciousness. . . . and when a purchase of a thirty-five cent Decca or Bluebird was a real commitment to art, both economic and emotional.

On the way home yesterday, the Beloved (after congratulating me on this find and rejoicing with me — she’s like that!) asked me pensively, “What do you get out of those records?”

I thought for a minute and said, “First, the music. I am trying not to buy everything just because it’s there, so I am buying discs I don’t have on CD or on my iPod. Second, there’s a kind of delight in handling artifacts from a lost time, relics that were well-loved, and imagining their original owners. Third, and perhaps it’s peculiar to me, these records are a way of visiting childhood and adolescence once again, going back to a leisurely time where I could sit next to a phonograph, listen to the music, and absorb joy in three-minute portions. I know that I won’t keep these records forever, and I hope — maybe in twenty years? — to pass them on to someone who will delight in them as I do now.”

And delight is at the heart of the experience.

To find out more about the Food For Thought antiques store and the food bank the proceeds go to (the staff is not paid; they volunteer their time and friendship) see here. The store — which has other surprises for those immune to “old records” — is at  2701 Gravenstein Highway South, Sebastopol. Lovely people, and cookies at the cash register for the low-blood-sugar crowd (like myself: record-hunting is draining work).

May your happiness increase!

MORE ABOUT JIM GOODWIN

 

 

Life Story: Jim Goodwin

Posted by Joan Harvey, The Oregonian June 01, 2009 09:59AM

Musicians say Jim Goodwin taught them how to play music — and how to live.

He was a musician’s musician, largely unknown to the public but legendary among jazz cognoscenti and to those who played with him. His authoritative, stunning cornet leads and spontaneous outpouring of original, appropriate ideas awed other musicians and inspired them to play better.

His music reflected his soul — he was a gentle person with an oddball, oblique wit; he was brilliant, generous and unerringly true to himself. He was charismatic and immediately charmed everyone he met. Friends stayed friends forever; no one knows of an enemy he ever had.

Jim died April 19 of alcoholism at age 65.

Jim enjoyed a 40-year career as a cornetist.

 

The outpouring of grief after his death is made more bitter by the realization that such a happy, life-absorbing personality could self-destruct. But most of all, it is grief that his music is silent.

Jim’s music echoed that of Louis Armstrong, Wild Bill Davison, Bix Beiderbecke and Henry “Red” Allen.
He was a natural musician who learned to play by ear and never wanted to taint his spontaneity by learning to read music. He could pick up any horn and make it sing. He also was a well-known piano player and earned money playing drums and vibraphone.

Jim wasn’t interested in fame or fortune. He turned down an offer to tour with the Freddy Martin Band, among other offers, and refused to promote himself. He cherished his freedom.

Once he got out of the National Guard, he was never tied down. He often left for Europe with his underwear and toothbrush stuffed in his cornet case and $40 in his pocket. He returned the same way.

Jim never had a backup plan or the stability of a day job, health insurance or any regular source of income. He lived with friends, rented here and there and sometimes, especially when he was young in Europe, slept outdoors.

Still, he lived well. He had a series of cars, including a 1954 Jaguar, a Triumph TR3 and a 1950 English Singer Roadster, that he traded, swapped or adopted out as his cash fluctuated.

Jim was adamant about never owing anybody money and paid back every nickel he ever borrowed. He liked to pick up the tab when he could.

He had an innate sense of style. Aspiring musicians copied his look, a 1970s version of the 1930s, including wool newsboy caps, L.L. Bean duck shoes and thrift store tweed jackets. He was proud of his Northwest lumberjack clothes but also knew cashmere when he saw it.

He was organized; everyplace he lived, everything was orderly and filed away. And every friend has a story about Jim’s humor. Once, he and a fellow musician put their shoes on the wrong feet and, in the middle of a set, splayed their feet in front, never knowing whether anyone noticed. He had long discussions about how to tie shoes. He built mannequins and placed them on his front porch or in a darkened room complete with lit cigar and a glass of wine. They were so realistic that people were often fooled. He once recorded a tape of himself painting a fence — the only sound was an occasional car rolling by.

He and friends started Portland Brewing Co. just as microbrewing took hold. He asked to be bought out early because he didn’t want to be tied down to a business. Instead, for years he played regularly at the company’s Flanders Street Pub with Dave Frishberg.

He was raised in Hillsboro. His father was a stockbroker, and Jim earned money at his firm as a “board boy.” This led him to stockbroker school in New York right out of high school and a brief stint as a stockbroker in Portland. He liked to say that he was the country’s youngest stockbroker and youngest retired stockbroker.

Jim and his high school band, The Riverboat Six, once climbed over a fence at the Oregon State Fair to play for Louis Armstrong. Armstrong asked who the trumpet player was, and told Jim, “Make sure you floss your teeth.”

 

He served in the Oregon National Guard (playing drums and horn), and that took him to Fort Ord, Calif., where he became absorbed into the nearby Bay Area music scene. He played in all the legendary jazz haunts and, for a long time, in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. He played for the Oakland A’s pep band and went with them to three World Series.

Jim was athletic. Besides playing baseball for Hillsboro High School and softball for musicians’ teams for years, he climbed to the summit of Mount Hood several times. He once bicycled and ferried from Holland to London to visit a friend and another time walked from Berkeley to Concord, Calif., for dinner. For years, he took long walks through the forest early every morning. Portland’s Forest Park was a favorite.

He was married once, to a Dutch artist. He later lived with Aretta Christie off and on for 25 years, mostly in Brownsmead. After they separated, she kept him going through the final years of his life.

This last picture of Jim was taken aout a week and a half before he died April 19.

He was devoted to jazz and knew it upside down and backward. He and Ray Skjelbred played for years at the Bull Valley Inn in Port Costa, Calif., and could play for weeks without repeating a song. Still, Jim loved listening to classical music, particularly Charles Ives, Edvard Grieg and Jean Sibelius. He was clueless about rock.Most of his life was filled with music and friends. Parties lasted for days without an incident. Jim never used drugs or smoked. He was never known to tell an off-color joke or to use foul language.

But somewhere along the line, he crossed the “point,” as he said. Alcohol was no longer fun but dominated his life. He refused to take care of himself.

He told friends that he didn’t like what drinking was doing to him but that he didn’t want to stop. He refused help to see a dentist, lost a tooth and could no longer play the cornet.

People still ask his musician friends: “What’s going on with Jim?” “Do you hear anything from Jim?” He was, says Skjelbred, everyone’s favorite musician.

–Joan Harvey; joanharvey@news.oregonian.com