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.
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.
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!