A small surprise from eBay, where surprises flourish: here‘s the link. The seller’s price is $175 and $12 shipping, The latter substantially more than the original postage.
It’s a letter from Ruby Braff, who left us in 2003, to Jack Bradley, his friend and sometime manager, and of course close friend of Louis Armstrong.
The letter isn’t dated, but the envelope is postmarked April 4, 1987:
“Dear Jack (Fuckey),
I’m looking forward & backward to our gig. As we draw closer I’ll get the name of everything—oh, by the way, you’ve got plenty time now to get cash for me that nite, if possible.
You know I’m down in Zinno’s every nite, all our cats are so happy I’m there that it’s like 1941. Everybody’s in to see me. Buck Clayton, Morey, everybody. Packed!!!
Bad news—I’m depressed we lost Buddy Rich tonite. I played anyway. What a drag!
Every nite is Cafe Society for me! Unbelievable. Wild!!
Anyway ding ding you 2.
Written in pencil on Braff’s letterhead. Folding creases, some light smudging, overall fine with original envelope. 8.5 x 11 inches (21.5 x 28 cm).
and . . .
and . . . .
A few annotations. Buddy Rich died on April 2, 1987. “Ding ding!” was Vic Dickenson’s all-purpose salutation, celebration, toast. Buck Clayton should need no annotation. “Morey” cannot be drummer Morey Feld, who died in 1971.
As to “Fuckey,” one interprets as one wishes.
Here, because I can — life is not all about objects for sale — is what remains of the Braff-Steinman correspondence, two 1971 letters from Ruby to me. Although Ruby was subject to unpredictable outbursts of rage (I witnessed one) his letters are gentle, touching, kind, and I did nothing special to evoke this kindness.
And an appropriate song — Ruby in duet with Dick Hyman in that same 1987:
We were lucky — and beyond — to have Ruby with us for fifty years. And his music has no expiration date.
Should you want to know more — more than you ever thought you could know — about Ruby and his times, this book is a delightful and wise mountain of information and stories, Thomas Hustad’s BORN TO PLAY.
May your happiness increase!