I am so fortunate in many ways, some of them not evident on this site. But JAZZ LIVES readers will understand that my being able to interview Dan Morgenstern at his home from March 2017 on — at irregular intervals — is a gift I would not have dreamed possible when I was only A Wee Boy reading his liner notes and DOWN BEAT articles.
Dan is an unaffected master of small revealing insights that show character: in some ways, he is a great short-story writer even though he is working with factual narrative. Watching these interviews, you’ll go away with Artie Shaw pacing the room and talking, Willis Conover’s ashtrays, Cootie Williams reverently carrying Louis’ horn back to the latter’s hotel, and more.
About ten days ago, we spent another ninety minutes where Dan told affectionate tales of Jaki Byard, Ulysses Kay, Randy Weston, Kenny Dorham, and more. Those videos will come to light in time. But we had a marathon session last June, with stories of Louis, Cozy Cole, Milt Hinton, Coltrane, Roy, Teddy, Basie, Joe Wilder, Ed Berger, Perry Como and others — which you can savor here. And, although it sounds immodest, you should. (I also have videos of a July session with Dan: stay tuned, as they used to say.)
Here are more delightful stories from the June session.
Dan remembers Symphony Sid Torin, with sidebars about John Hammond, Nat Lorber, Rudi Blesh, Stan Kenton at Carnegie Hall, Roy Eldridge, and jazz radio in general:
Dan’s affectionate portrait of another man with a mission concerning jazz — the Voice of America’s Willis Conover:
and some afterthoughts about Willis:
and, to conclude, another leisurely portrait, early and late, of Artie Shaw:
with Artie as a “champion talker,” and a gig at Bop City, and sidelights about Benny Goodman and Cootie Williams, the latter reverent of Louis:
Thank you, Dan, for so generously making these people, scenes, and sounds come so alive.
May your happiness increase!