Trumpeter Frank Newton should have been celebrated more in his lifetime, loved and understood more. I have written elsewhere about his glorious music and his difficult times. And even if you see him as a free spirit, too large to be held down or restrained by “the music business,” a more just world would have been kinder.
But I treasure every glimpse of him. These three are more cheerful than melancholy. The first is from the September 1939 issue of DOWN BEAT, a gift from Mal Sharpe, who also knows the value of such artifacts.
The second and third come from Newton’s final years (he died all too young in 1954) in Boston. My source here is drummer Walt Gifford: his scrapbook passed through my hands thanks to the kindness of Duncan Schiedt, and I share two priceless artifacts with you.
Walt obviously took part in Frank’s birthday party; this was the trumpeter’s sincere gratitude in a few words:
The final artifact is a candid snapshot taken in July 1951, when Frank was working as a counselor at Kiddie Kamp in Sharon, Massachusetts:
Look at those smiling faces! One or more of those children is with us still, although it might be too much to expect that these grown men and women, in their late sixties, would be reading JAZZ LIVES.
Here is an audible reminder of the beauty Newton created — the 1939 recording (with Tab Smith, soprano saxophone), TAB’S BLUES:
Frank Newton touched people’s hearts with or without his horn.
May your happiness increase!