Tag Archives: Russell Moore

“SPEEDY RECOVERY”: MAY 1949

Most formulaic greeting cards you can buy in the chain pharmacies are now probably three or four dollars, and they are pleasant enough expressions of sentiment (or humor) that the sender hopes will make the patient feel better. Or, as a display on the side-table, they suggest, “I have friends who care about me!” which is an entirely understandable sentiment.

Here is a singular jazz get-well card, from May 1949.  It costs a bit more: ten thousand dollars.  But you’ll see why.

and a closer look at the signatures:

The seller explains:

Unique, one of a kind, original vintage concert program for the Festival International de Jazz held at the Salle Pleyel in Paris [France] from 8th May – 15th May, 1949, featuring Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Sidney Bechet, and many more. The program has been authentically signed and inscribed on the front cover by Charlie Parker (“Speedy Recovery Charlie Parker”), Miles Davis (“Best Wishes Miles Davis”), Tadd Dameron (“Get well quick Tadd Dameron”) and Max Roach (“Wishing A Speedy Recovery Max Roach”). Also signed inside the program by Don Byas (“Best regards Don Byas”). The original owner of the program was a young British jazz fan. He married in 1949 and he and his wife honeymooned on the continent and attended the Paris Jazz festival at this time. Judging from the various inscriptions we must assume he wasn’t feeling well the night he obtained the autographs. The festival, by the way, marked the first European appearances for both Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

Moving inside the souvenir booklet:

and:

and:

and:

the Don Byas signature as well as a photograph of Jimmy McPartland, the man no one associates with this festival:

and:

finally, the back cover:

The souvenir booklet is, of course, incredibly rare.  But what delights me as much as its existence is the untold short story of the young British fan and his new bride.  He must have approached his heroes and told them, not only that he admired them and would like them to sign his program, but that he was ill. Were the Americans charmed by the young couple and their English accents?  Were they feeling paternalistic to the ailing young man?  (Notice that Don Byas either didn’t hear the young man’s tale or didn’t care much about it.)  But he obviously made enough of an impression on the American jazz stars for them to write kind words to him.

I even wonder if he was ill in their hotel room after the concert and his young bride took the program to Bird, Miles, Tadd, Max, and Don, and prettily asked a favor of them, explaining that her husband was out of sorts. And we don’t know why he was sick.  Was it the strange food that had made him ill?  The crossing to France?  We can only imagine these events, but it’s clear that someone prized this souvenir of his and his bride’s honeymoon.  And now it’s on eBay.  What that says about us I couldn’t begin to fathom.

This I can fathom, though — some music from that festival:

May your happiness increase!

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BEWARE! GRANDPA MUSSELMAN AND HIS SYNCOPATORS

I’m very suspicious and I’ve contacted the authorities.

Does this man look old enough to be someone’s grandfather?

I thought not.  In fact, I have verifiable information that trombonist Matt Musselman, born in Maryland and currently at large in New York City with Tamar Korn, Gordon Au, and Vince Giordano, just celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday.  So the “Grandpa” moniker is clearly a ruse to bewilder the unwary.  Maidens, beware.  Lock your doors!

But let’s get to the music:

Here, Grandpa Musselman & His Syncopators perform a King Oliver arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Froggie Moore Rag” at Iridium Jazz Club in New York City on Saturday, July 10th, 2010.  The Syncopators are Vince Nero, saxophones; Russell Moore, trumpet; Matt “Grandpa” Musselman, trombone; Bryan Reeder, piano; Dan Peck, tuba; Will Clark, drums.

The band’s website is http://www.grandpamusselman.com

And here, courtesy of “VerdiSquare” and YouTube, is a 2009 video profile of the band and its players, performing SWEET MAMA, PAPA’S GETTIN’ MAD:

Here’s a link to the band’s Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Grandpa-Musselman-His-Syncopators/156382456552

And their MySpace page, with performances from their CD:

http://www.myspace.com/grandpamusselman

Wait.  Did someone say “a CD”?

Yes, that’s its cover — worth buying for the graphics alone.  It features the band seen on the videos in a riotous bunch of improvisations on everything from a 1905 rag to a Sidney Bechet classic to an Iggy Pop song.  The selections are MISS TROMBONE / JAZZ ME BLUES / SINGIN’ THE BLUES / HARLEM NOCTURNE / I REMEMBER WHEN (also called SI TU VOIS MA MERE) / POSIN’ / WASHINGTON POST MARCH / I NEED SOMEBODY / STARDUST.

“How can I acquire one of these artifacts of twenty-first century creativity?” I hear my audience saying.  Not so fast.  Because Grandpa Musselman and the Syncopators clearly have criminal affiliations, there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate distribution network . . . however, Matt has some copies left and if you meet him at a gig (the best place to say hello) he might have a few in his trombone case.

Seriously, he’s a wonderful musician and improviser — someone who’s impressed me wherever I’ve seen him, and the occasions have been numerous.  And his band is spookily good!

Once the CD — evidence  of the imposture — is safely in your possession, then you may turn the perpetrator over to the local authorities.

Here’s another view of the culprit, contributed by crime photographer John Herr: