We know many people born on February 28th. However, we know a much smaller number born on that date in 1930. And there is only ONE Martin Oliver Grosz, who will thus turn ninety in a few days.
Marty won’t read this post, so I will spare him and all of us a lengthy explication of his particular virtues. But let me inform you about a few events related to his birthday . . . and then there will be a reward for those with high reading comprehension skills. “Three ways,” not chili . . . but a book and two parties. And patient readers will find another reward, of a particularly freakish nature, at the end of this post.
Marty has talked about writing his autobiography for years now (I was almost a collaborator, although not in the wartime sense) — he has stories! And the book has finally happened, thanks to the Golden Alley Press, with the really splendid editorship of Joe Plowman, whom we know more as a superb musician. Great photos, and it’s a pleasure to look at as well as read.
The book is entertaining, readable, funny, and revealing — with stories about people you wouldn’t expect (Chet Baker!). It sounds like Marty, because the first half is a tidied-up version of his own story, written in longhand — with elegant calligraphy — on yellow legal paper. I’m guessing that a few of the more libelous bits have been edited out, but we know there are severe laws about such things and paper is flammable.
The second part of the book, even more vividly, is a stylishly done series of interviews with Marty — a real and sometimes startlingly candid pleasure. I’ve followed Marty musically for more than twenty-five years and have had conversations with him for two decades . . . this, as he would say, is the real breadstick, and I learned a great deal I hadn’t already known. More information here and here. The official publication date is March 4, but you can pre-order the book from several of the usual sites — as noted above.
And two musical events — Marty encompasses multitudes, so he gets two parties.
One will take place at the Hopewell Valley Bistro, tomorrow at 6 PM, where Marty will be joined by Danny Tobias, Scott Robinson, and Gary Cattley, for an evening of swing and badinage, sometimes with the two combined. Details here. And on March 4, another extravaganza — at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, with what used to be called “an all-star cast”: Vince Giordano, Danny Tobias, Scott Robinson, Dan Block, Randy Reinhart, Joe Plowman, Jim Lawlor, Jack Saint Clair, and I would guess some surprise guests. Details here. Even though I am getting on a plane the next morning to fly to Monterey for the Jazz Bash by the Bay, I am going to this one. You should too!
Now, the unearthed treasure . . . for all the Freaks in the house, as Louis would say, a congregation in which I happily include myself. I’ve written elsewhere of taking sub rosa videos at the 2007 and 2008 Jazz at Chautauqua weekend ecstasies, and I recently dug out this spiritual explosion. The camerawork is shaky and vague (I was shooting into bright light), but the music is life-enhancing. Even the YouTube Disliker is quietly applauding:
Let us celebrate Marty Grosz. He continues to be completely Himself, which is a fine thing. With Dispatch and Vigor, Fats, Al Casey, and Red McKenzie looking on approvingly.
May your happiness increase!