Larry Kart

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About Larry Kart

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  • Birthday 05/16/1942

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  • Location Highland Park, Il.

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  1. Buddy Colette and his West Coast Friends

    Yes, indeed.
  2. Musicians/nice guys (or gals)

    Had a very nice encounter with Mal Waldron when he was on a rare visit to the U.S., backing up Sonny Stitt at the Jazz Medium in Chicago in the late '70s, IIRC. I told him how tickled I was by his intense, motivically oriented comping for Stitt, who clearly responded to what Mal was doing with big ears. Mal was pleased that someone had noticed and pleased as well that anyone Stateside still remembered who he was. Had a very nice encounter with Dexter Gordon too, but as enjoyable as it was (may have mentioned it here before), it was clear that Dexter's reason for our long interesting-to-me shmooze was in part that my  presence in his Chicago hotel suite allowed him to fend off Maxine Gregg, who was mad as hell at him about his failure to  start getting ready as soon as she wanted him to for some evening social affair  (they were in town to promote the film "'Round Midnight").  Had a brief semi-nasty brush with Miles at the Plugged Nickel in 1969 (have written about it here before), but something good came of it -- an interview with Wayne Shorter that was not going to take place (he said that he had nothing to say)  until Miles, from across the room, hoarsely said, "Don't tell him anything, Wayne" (Miles didn't know me but knew I worked for Dan Morgenstern at Down Beat). Wayne the contrarian pushed back at Miles and immediately told me he'd do the interview, which turned out quite well. Supposedly hadving nothing to say, Wayne the next day talked for about 90 minutes with such coherence that we ran the interview (which IIRC hardly needed editing) as a piece under Wayne's name and paid him about twice the normal DB freelance fee of the time for a piece of that length, maybe $400. About Ruby Braff, I think this Chicago Tribune piece (it's in my book) captures some aspects of him fairly well. The paragraph that begins "Show business," where he talks about the wisdom of calling up Sinatra and threatening him in order to get ahead, et al. makes it clear that Ruby's sense of himself as a character was at least in part wryly ironic, though I'm sure he could be wounding when he felt like it. RUBY BRAFF [1985] The most glorious anachronism in jazz, cornetist Ruby Braff really shouldn’t  exist--for he may be the only man who has successfully stepped outside of the otherwise swift-running stream of jazz history, although  Braff doesn’t quite see himself that way. But that is more than  appropriate, because Braff has always been a one-of-a-kind guy whose  gleefully  combative attitude toward life recalls Groucho Marx’s famous quip  that he  “wouldn’t belong to any club that would have me as a member.”  Suggest, for instance, that there is anything unlikely about what he has managed to do--build a truly individual style that nonetheless pays  handsome   tribute to the genius of Louis Armstrong--and the fifty-eight-year-old Braff bridles  at the thought.  “Hey,” he says,  “I was playing in joints when I was still in grade school, and by the time bebop came along, in 1945 and ’46, I already was  deeply into music. So there wasn’t anything odd about what I was doing. You  know what they say, ‘You are what you eat,’  and I was just playing the way I heard people play.” But there is something unusual about Braff’s achievement. Even though he  was, back then, not the only young player who felt himself to be more in  tune with the music of Armstrong et al. than with the music of Charlie  Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, he was almost alone in his ability to steer  clear of the tricky waters of re-creation and revivalism.   Inspired by the past, Braff has always been a musician of the present, and  his love of what  might be  called “the great jazz tradition” has only  increased the individuality of his plush, throbbing tone and the gracefully  soaring phrases with which, as one critic put it, Braff “adores the  melody.”  So at  a time when the virtues of the great tradition are seldom to  be found, Braff not only presents them with all of their original force but  also puts them to very personal use--creating his own music with a passion  that transcends the boundaries of style.  Born in the Boston suburb of Roxbury, Mass., the son of Russian-Jewish  immigrants, Braff knew early on that he was destined to be “a performing  animal.”  “Were I not playing the horn,” he claims, “I’d be in vaudeville--a  magician, a comic, something on the stage. And the reason I know that is that I know how I responded to performers, even when I was a baby.   I’d hear something on the radio, even  [boy tenor] Bobby Breen  [here Braff  does a choice takeoff  on Breen singing “When My Dreamboat  Comes Home”], and it would just stir things in me, drive me crazy.  I, too, wanted to make  noises like that and excite somebody the way those noises excited me.”  The noisemaker Braff had his heart set on was a tenor saxophone, but when his parents took their rather diminutive son to a music store, they felt a  trumpet would be more his size--a choice for which the jazz world has reason  to be grateful.   Switching from trumpet to cornet “because it looks better for shorter  people” (Braff now stands five feet, four inches  tall) and also because “it has  a mellower sound,”  Braff continued to think in saxophone terms --“which is  good,” he explains, “because if you think of another instrument, you  can’t help but sound a little different.” Braff found himself in good musical company  early  on--his compatriots  included such older masters as clarinetist Edmond Hall, trombonist  Vic Dickenson and drummer Sid Catlett--and by the time Braff made his first  recording, under Dickenson’s  leadership  in 1953, he was a remarkably  mature player.  A number of fine Braff recordings were made in the wake of that striking  debut, including several superb albums that paired him with pianist  Ellis Larkins. But even though he was showered with praise by many critics,  the course of Braff’s career was not destined to be smooth.  For one thing, his chosen style was not fashionably  hip,  and Braff, quite rightly, had no desire to change the way he played. On the other hand,Braff  was praised in some quarters because  of his apparent lack of modernity,  which had the unfortunate side-effect of typing him as an artist that only  tradition-minded listeners were likely to enjoy.   Combine that with Braff’s somewhat bristly manner, which probably stems from  the fierce artistic demands he places on himself, and one has the makings of  a man who was born to wear the label “underrated.”  “All I know,”  says Braff, “is that wherever I’ve played,  people have liked what they heard. The problem was, nobody was getting to hear me  enough.” And with that, Braff sets off one of his typical strings of verbal  fireworks--a half-serious, half-joking series of remarks that he delivers in  an obsessive rush and at such a high volume level that one hardly needs a  telephone to hear him. Add an exclamation point to every phrase, and  you’ll get some of the flavor.  “I’m a drama freak,” Braff begins. “I like to dramatize a tune and I’m  always trying to communicate, which is the difference between being a  performer and a musician.   There are many musicians, but they aren’t performers, they’re just  instrumentalists who belong in an orchestra reading charts--which is all  right, ain’t nothing wrong with that. But the trouble with this world is  that most of these people are on the stand today, playing  700  choruses! “Loudness and softness and longness and shortness--if you’re a performing  animal, you know about those things. I was brought up on the two-and-a-half-minute  record, where you heard a marvelous composition and little solos,  returns to a theme and highs and lows, which is  what I think about  when I’m playing, even though sometimes I play much longer than that. I’m  thinking ‘stretch in,’  not ‘stretch out’--‘in, in, in!’ You see, I treat me as though I were a customer. When I’m playing  I’m thinking,  ‘What are you doing now?   Okay, that’s enough of that,’  so the audience always knows what I’m talking about. I mean, a truck driver can  listen to Johnny Hodges and know this is something that makes him feel  good--an idiot can hear those magical tones and they’ll tug at his  heartstrings!  “Show business--I love show business. If I had my way, I’d be up there with  dancers and magicians and lights and everything. Oh, why can’t I have magic,  so that when I lift my horn up and want it to disappear, it vanishes out of  my hand! That can be done with lights, I know it can! Oh, why can’t I be  tremendous? If I were a star, I’d have such fun!  Sinatra--why don’t I get the exposure he gets? Maybe I should call him up  and threaten him. No, no, I’d better not do that--that is not the way  to go.  But why did they ruin everything? I mean, this is the worst world I’ve ever  lived in. All I want  to do is go over the rainbow, to someplace better than  where I was. And why can’t I have  my own talk show?”  Sorting through this barrage of vintage Braff-isms, with its built-in wryness and its wild swings in mood, one simultaneously feels that  almost none of it, and all of it, should be taken  at face value.   Braff really does want to be “tremendous”  and all the rest. But even as he  bursts at the seams with the need to impose his ego upon the whole world, he  is self-aware enough to know that his gifts are best suited to the  relatively intimate medium of the cornet.   In fact, when Braff pours his turbulent soul through that horn, it seems  that the sheer pressure of his drive to communicate to one and all is what  makes his music so powerful in a nightclub setting--as though one were  bearing witness to a beauty that could, at any moment, explode.  “Ruby is a traditionalist,”  says Braff’s longtime friend, Tony Bennett, “in the sense that he knows the roots and the treasures--Louis Armstrong,  Judy Garland, Bix Beiderbecke and all the rest. But then, having learned  from them, he takes that knowledge and flies with it in a very modern way.   Like all great jazz musicians, Ruby is right in the ‘now,’ and when people get a chance to hear him, they’re always moved.  I remember last year, I went to one of those really hardnosed  ASCAP [American Society of Composers and Performers] meetings that the  SongWriters Hall of Fame puts on. Every big composer was in the audience, and a whole bunch of artists performed, but it was more of a social occasion  until Ruby came out to back a singer. He played a few solos and obbligatos, and suddenly it was like everyone  was swooning. They didn’t know who Ruby was, and then when they heard this  magnificent horn, they just went ‘Wow!’ But that’s what Ruby can do to you  if he gets a chance.”      
  3. Buddy Colette and his West Coast Friends

    Nope, not full size but ample.Label owner/musician Johnny Otis  designed the cover, maybe even created that sculpture, though I'm not sure about the latter. Don't know "Jazz Heat, Bongo Beat," but unlike you, I'm not into exotica, though I recall enjoying at least one of Les Baxter's hits in my youth.
  4. Buddy Colette and his West Coast Friends

    The "Tanganyika" cover is reproduced in the booklet.
  5. Listening tonight to this compilation of two 1956 small-group dates with similar personnel -- Colette's "Tanganyika" and drummer Max Albright's "Mood for Max" -- I was especially taken with the work of trumpeter John Anderson (1921-74). A suave graceful modernist with a warm big tone and impressive chops, he might be described as residing somewhere between Joe Wilder and Ray Copeland, which is a nice place to be. One assumes that his original inspirations were Harry Edison and Fats Navarro, though there are a few Gillispie-ish touches. In any case, Anderson was his own man and a very impressive player. Anyone know whether he can be heard at length elsewhere?  BTW, familiar though I am with Colette's work on his various horns, I was surprised by how much several of his alto solos here sound like Paul Desmond. A plus is the work of bassists Curtis Counce (on "Tanganyika") and Joe Comfort. Albright's drumming is a bit tiddly at times, but not enough to really matter. http://www.amazon.com/West-Coast-Friends-Buddy-Collette/dp/B001PQG0XE/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1462063424&sr=1-3&keywords=buddy+collette+west
  6. Stan Levey and Sonny Stitt

    The son of a boxing promoter, Levey fought professionally.
  7. Happy Over Hoagy

    Don't know that one myself. There's some tasty Cohn baritone on John Benson Brooks' "Folk Jazz U.S. A.," which also has some lovely Zoot on alto.
  8. Stan Levey and Sonny Stitt

    No, it was Stan Levey, not Getz, whom Stitt ratted on to the narcs and thus sent to prison and who then, after getting out, brought a hit man to Stitt's gig. I would have thought that "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got that Swing)" from "Diz And Getz" would have told Dizzy at least that there's no tempo that Getz can't make.    
  9. Stan Levey and Sonny Stitt

    A post from vibist Charlie Shoemake on Doug Ramsey’s blog, about drummer Stan Levey:    ‘About the recording [“For Musicians Only”] Stan told me that Dizzy and Sonny Stitt had planned to burn Stan Getz out with the incredible blazing tempos but he turned out to be too much for them and actually had THEM a bit on the defensive. He also told me that when they kicked off those tempos John Lewis folded his hands and just sat there for almost the entire session.   ‘More trivia concerning Sonny Stitt. Conte Candoli told me that Stitt was the one that had given Stan up to the drug police in order to save himself, thus sending Stan to prison. When I asked Stan about it he said that it was true and that when he got out he took a notorious Philadelphia hit man that he knew from his boxing days to where Sonny Stitt was playing and they sat in the front row causing Sonny Stitt to turn ashen white. I said to Stan…"but all of those recordings you made with him years after that, what was that like?” Stan said they never spoke but every once in a while he would see Sonny glance over at him very nervously. He also said that going to prison actually saved his life because he got completely clean and married a beautiful girl, Angela, who was a wonderful person and a steady rock for him the rest of his life.’
  10. What Classical Music Are You Listening To?

    It ain't supposed to be.
  11. What Classical Music Are You Listening To?

    The Elmendorff is on its way.
  12. What Classical Music Are You Listening To?

    Thanks, I'll check.
  13. What Classical Music Are You Listening To?

     Do you have any thoughts about which of the several packagings and possible remasterings is best, in particular EMI 2002 or the recent Warner coupling? And I do suggest that everyone check out Stokowski's Wagner, in particular his late '50s RCA album with the "Ride of the Valkyries" (with Martina Arroyo and Shirley Verrett and others adding immensely to the impact).  His later London Phase Four Wagner album is a trip too, but I can see where many might find the Phase Four sonic spotlighting off-putting. The RCA Wagner material seems to be available only in the collection depicted below these days, but the old Wagner LP can be found in many used record stores.
  14. Thanks for the tip. Gotta get these. Way back when (pretty sure Balanchine was still alive) I saw the NYC Ballet do Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Early on there was a moment when much of the company suddenly advances toward the front of the stage in a wave or waves. I thought I was going to pass out it was so viscerally thrilling.
  15. What Classical Music Are You Listening To?

    Don't quite follow you here. Whose pre-end-of-WWII broadcasts do you mean? Toscanini's? He sure wasn't conducting in Bayreuth in 1942. Furtwangler's? Didn't see anything at Berkshire that fit your description.