Al in NYC

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Everything posted by Al in NYC

  1. Musicians as drivers

    Allen Eager won his class and finished 10th overall at the 1961 12 hours of Sebring, co-driving with his girlfriend, and more experienced racer, Denise McCluggage. The next year he crashed out of the same race when he collided with Ken Miles of Ford vs Ferrari Christian Bale fame. Here is a longish, but fascinating, story about the pioneering Denise McCluggage, her struggles in auto racing and her relationship with Eager, and the story of that 1961 race. No thread on jazz musicians and cars would be complete it seems to me without mentioning Herbie Hancock and his unique 1963 Shelby Cobra, which he bought brand new for about $6,000 and still has today.
  2. Lee Konitz R.I.P.

    Even though he once told my father to go to hell, I dearly loved Lee Konitz, and I think my dad loved him even more. He could be a cantankerous man, in the best sense of the word, and sure didn't suffer fools (a confrontation with some chatty idiots at a Jazz Standard show a few years back was especially memorable, and hilarious), but he was also caring, generous, curious, and would play with all sorts of musicians he respected. Hence all of the great recorded collaborations pointed out by many here. I have been listening today to several of his recordings from the late '60s through the '70s. During this period it feels like he was breaking out of the Tristano/bop/cool box he'd been in since the earlier years of his career, either through his own affiliations or the pigeon-holing of record companies and critics, and really stretching out and using his considerable talents and the vocabulary he came with to make really adventurous music. Beyond the compelling musical conversation and challenges he continued with Warne Marsh during this period, I have always particularly been attracted to his ongoing collaborations with Martial Solal. From the wonderful Impressive Rome and European Encounter forward, particularly the amazing Satori with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette from 1974. I was fortunate enough to have several opportunities to see him perform, from a show at the West End way back when I was first at Columbia to the last time I saw him at the Charlie Parker festival in Harlem a couple of years ago. His playing was always always magnificent and compelling and reflective of a deep engagement with both other musicians and jazz history. Of course, he was a part of so much of that history, and with Lee's passing we move further on from a direct connection with a lot of that history, from Claude Thornhill to Bird and bop, Birth of the Cool, and the whole cool jazz moment of the 1950s (to which Lee may have been somewhat wrongly attached, but attached he certainly was, and he played with most of the important figures). Even though he was in his 90s, this one really hurts, especially because its a reminder our human and artistic connections to one of the most pivotal and exciting moments in American musical history are now being forever severed. Bye Lee...
  3. Wallace Roney R.I.P (COVID-19 victim)

    This is brutal. I was just told of Wallace's death this afternoon by a friend from one of the old jazz boards. And I started to reminisce about the several times I saw him and the few times I personally interacted with him. The most memorable were seeing him twice in a couple of weeks leading an orchestra and playing beautifully doing Wayne Shorter's previously unrecorded Universe suite at the Charlie Parker Festival in NYC and the Detroit Jazz Festival, seeing him with his wife Geri Allen at the Brooklyn Museum (heartbreaking now), and seeing him in an impromptu late night set here in NYC with Russell Malone on my 50th birthday weekend, when he came down and sat in the audience next to us playing some beautiful ballad comping while Russell soloed. But the most beautiful show was almost 20 years ago now on a hot night in Detroit, where he simultaneously improvised with Bennie Maupin over a few Miles tunes in a surpassingly beautiful moment I still treasure among my very best jazz memories. On a more sobering front, I believe Wallace was playing shows into March. I wonder if he was exposed then? I know most NYC clubs were open to mid-March I'm hoping against hope that not too many of our great musicians (and their audiences) were exposed and potentially infected during those weeks when we should have been so much better about seeing what was coming. Wallace Roney is a big loss, gone way too soon, and he will definitely be missed. Bye...
  4. Charlie Rouse, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk

    What an incredible photo. Having been in Cobo Arena maybe hundreds of times I can picture exactly where that was. That earlier thread conatins the recollections of someone who attended to concert as a high schooler. Apparently, Coltrane's own group (other than Alice) couldn't make it to Detroit for some weather-related reason, so he played with Monk. The date was January 15, 1967, the same day as the first Super Bowl.
  5. Roy Haynes 95th birthday shows at the Blue Note next weekend have been cancelled and replaced. Certainly seems prudent.
  6. Happy Birthday, Roy Haynes!!!

    Happy Birthday Roy!! I believe his birthday shows next weekend at the Blue Note have been cancelled though, which was probably an easy call. The club is now showing Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban All-Stars for those dates.
  7. According to what I see online this morning, all of the major NYC jazz clubs are still planning to be open (although the Vanguard has cut back to one set on weeknights). Given what's going on here I can't imagine that that is going to last. Was supposed to go out tonight to catch Kirk Lightsey at Mezzrow. Although I would like to help them in what I am sure is their hour of need, I'm not sure if I'm going to make it. Might be the last show I'm able to see for a while though...
  8. McCoy Tyner has died, aged 81

    Crying this afternoon with the NYC rain. One of my favorite artists ever has died. Will always have a special place in my heart and in my ears for McCoy Tyner. Goodbye Mr. Tyner...
  9. I inherited several older sets from my father with this problem. As Dad got older, let's just say he wasn't as dexterous as he used to be, and the stuff Bresna described above happened to these boxes. So, I'm trying to figure out what may be the best way to repair them. Maybe the archival tape suggested by Captain Howdy will work. I am so glad that they went to regular boxes eventually. My sets with those boxes are still in great shape.
  10. Monk + Giants of Jazz tour

    There were 2 Yankee Stadium concerts as part of Newport in New York in 1972. July 7 with Ray Charles, Nina Simone, BB King, Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan, and a Jimmy Smith jam session with Kenny Burrell, Joe Newman, Illinois Jacquet, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, and Roy Haynes. And July 8 with Roberta Flack, Lou Rawls, Herbie Mann, Les McCann, and the Giants of Jazz. My dad went to both of them, and several more of the Newport in NY events that week. I have the programs somewhere in the back files.
  11. extensive baby face article

    I just ran into this article out there while looking for information on Baby Face's years on the Chicago scene in the late '60s for a friend who is involved in the jazz education world there. It really a stunning piece of research and a wonderful article about a masterful musician about whom much too little information has been available for so long. Bobby Tanzilo is to be congratulated. Tanzilo's article clarifies or settles a number of questions about Willette's background and life beyond his recordings that have been rolling around for years. Fascinating that his sisters also recorded for a major gospel label. And the information about his father, the pro-segregation Arkansas radio preacher known as Prophet Willett, also served to help close another odd circle in my research on the voting rights movement in the south (another snippet of information here: It was a connection that I never would have made. Listening on this cold dreary NYC afternoon to the wonderful Behind the 8-Ball, and deeply loving it.
  12. Harold Mabern R.I.P.

    I just caught up with this news. Shocking, even though he was in his 80s, because I just saw him playing, wonderfully as usual, just a few weeks ago. He worked right up to the end and apparently died of a sudden heart attack. He was not a complex player, and was by his own telling self-taught (in large part by watching Phineas Newborn Jr's hand work), but his work was always interesting and very enjoyable, and often smoking and stunning. Like a lot of Memphis players there was a fair amount of R&B based funk in his work. Plus, the couple of times I had the occasion to interact with him I found him to be a quiet, gentle, but very engaging person. He will definitely be missed on the NYC jazz scene, where he had become an always welcome mainstay over the past decade plus. Bye Mabes...
  13. Kenny Burrell

    I wouldn't consider asking for my money back. Kenny Burrell is certainly welcome to the smallish amount of money I sent (or even more) just by asking. However, I am quite concerned by the weirdness that seems to be going on around him, his health and welfare status, the actions and health of his wife, and how someone with his income, insurance, etc. has apparently become broke or near broke.
  14. Kenny Burrell

    I've been very concerned over this situation and the Post article has just amplified my concerns. None of this has seemed quite right from the start, especially given what we know about Kenny's status at UCLA. I send some money to the Go Fund Me, of course, since even beyond his considerable contributions to music Kenny was an old friend of my parents and had been even closer in the old days with a number of our family's friends. After all, when a friend comes to you for money your first reaction isn't 'what do you need it for?' or 'why do you need it?', but 'how much do you need?' That doesn't mean you should suspend all critical thinking though. I must say here that I am extremely disappointed in the Jazz Foundation, which is an organization I have trusted and contributed to going back to the involvement of another old family friend, Nat Hentoff. If they had put out a more cautious or non-committal statement I might not be so disillusioned, but their statement about the story behind the Go Fund Me made it sound like they had actually confirmed the situation beyond just taking Katherine Burrell's word for it. The Foundation's confirmation, repeated throughout almost all of the stories about Katherine Burrell's funding plea, was key in so many people suspending their skepticism and giving their money so generously. This now seems to be a highly unfortunate black mark against an organization that has done so much; one that makes me wonder what else is going on over there now. Unfortunately, this all sounds a lot like a case of mental illness running unchecked. All of the germophobic paranoia and the zealously guarded secrecy and isolation lead me to the conclusion that others on this thread are probably correct that something is going very wrong here. The reports of boxes constantly outside their apartment, and the unconfirmed accusations of "identity fraud", lead me to another troubling thought, that the problem here may be related to disordered and out of control spending. I've seen this happen in the lives of the mentally ill and/or elderly relatives of friends. The combination of credit cards, the internet, Amazon etc, and TV shopping like QVC make it all too easy for disordered spending and compulsive acquisition to take over one's life, empty bank accounts, and mire folks in crushing high interest debt. All of this leaves me, as it seems to leave many of you, deeply concerned about what is going to be done with all of the Go Fund Me money, and even more concerned about the present status and the future of Kenny Burrell.
  15. Kenny Burrell

    I just caught up with this shocking news from an NPR story on my feed this morning. Made me cry. Kenny was an old acquaintance of my late parents going back to their days at Wayne U. and a very close friend of some of their friends both inside and outside of the music world. My mother was a probate/elder care attorney late in her career, and through her I have seen things go spectacularly bad for even seemingly secure people. Often all it takes is a couple of bad events together, combined with the declining health, declining mental and physical energy, fixed income, and increasing personal isolation that are part of growing old (to say nothing of the industry of sharks who exist to profit, legally or illegally, off of these difficulties), to quickly find oneself in serious trouble. I'm sure it's not too political to say that the way we treat our older people, and our health care non-system, are a national shame. Anyway, I will certainly give to Kenny and his family. If only for him taking the time at Baker's a couple of times to speak with my young self and impart some life wisdom and musical knowledge to an ill-informed and taste-deficient teenager. All you had to do was ask...
  16. An interesting exercise, and one I had not even thought about even though I have a copy of the picture hanging over the couch at my cottage in Ontario. My list (as far as I can remember): Golson, Farmer, Blakey, Griffin, Mingus, Krupa, Kaminsky, Freeman, H. Jones, Silver, Sullivan, Rushing, Hawkins, Shihab, McPartland, Rollins, Williams, Hinton, Heard, Mulligan, Eldridge, Gillespie, Basie. Several of these performers I was dragged off to see by my folks when I was a kid, which I may not have been totally happy about back then, but am deeply thankful for now. Despite the fact that he was perhaps my father's favorite jazz musician of all, I somehow missed seeing Thelonious Monk, which has to go down as the biggest miss of my musical life.
  17. The fascinating story of how Allen Eager came to be one of the winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring sports car endurance race, and the even more fascinating story of the woman who taught him how to race and did most of the driving. With short stops along the way for Steve McQueen, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and others.
  18. Mark, please go ahead and copy my post. I used to spend several weeks a year in Detroit, but almost all of my family is deceased or gone from the Detroit area now. We still own property in Ontario on Lake Erie though, so I do get around the area a bit during the summer. I'm almost always there over Labor Day weekend, so I make a point of trying to attend several shows at the jazz festival. Nice to hear about Cobb's. I spent quite a bit of time there, and even more around that neighborhood, back during my teens and early 20s. I remember the end of the Bob Cobb era and mostly remember the Henry Normile era. That neighborhood is certainly quite a different place these days.
  19. Mark, thank you, you have just jogged a memory loose for me! I've been wracking my brains for years trying to remember where I saw Mingus as a teenager. I mentioned it to my father before he died, because I remember it was he that took me and my mother to see Mingus (my dad loved a lot of his work), but even he couldn't remember where it was in Detroit. He even suggested that we may both be mis-remembering it, and that it may have been in New York. All we were sure of is that it was winter, and cold, and that it was a wild show. But Strata on Selden it definitely was, because once I saw it mentioned I remembered that it was right around the corner from Zakoor Novelties, which was where dad would take my sister and I to buy all sorts of cheap fun stuff. I'm pretty certain it wasn't that Tuesday show though, because that would have been a school night for me. I do remember that Mingus was increasingly unhappy with his side men through the evening, including Roy Brooks (who was the only one of them I thought I remembered, so thank you for confirming). To the point where he scowled at them and told them all to lay out while he played a very extended bass solo. I do remember just loving it though, and playing the grooves off of my dad's Mingus records for the next year or so. As someone who remembers that era in Detroit jazz, and came of age right at the tail end of it (I even spent part of my 18th birthday at Cobb's listening to Sam Sanders and Visions), I can't tell you how much I look forward to your book and your perspective on the now almost forgotten blossoming of creative jazz that happened during that era in Detroit.
  20. Roy Hargrove

    Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn...... Just saw this terrible news on television just now, and was shocked and deeply saddened and, unfortunately, not too surprised. Last time I saw Roy, although he played great as he always did, he was clearly barely making it. And, like I'm sure a number of people here, I also saw Roy in past years in a condition where he wasn't really in a state to play, But the Roy I'll remember is the one I followed around from gig to gig for several years because he would almost always blow everyone's socks off. The Roy who was up at the very top of players of his generation. The Roy who dominated a not much over half full Jazz Gallery on a snowy night and just couldn't stop playing for the few folks assembled there. The Roy who despite his extroverted stage presence had a few soft friendly words for my father when Dad complimented him on the way he approached certain tunes. He is gone far too young and will definitely be missed. Bye Roy...
  21. Aretha Franklin, RIP

    And then tells an easily disproven lie to try to explain it away. Typical.
  22. Aretha Franklin, RIP

    Recorded at her father's church in 1956 when she was only 14 years old. Put out by Detroit record store owner and recording producer Joe Von Battle, whose recordings of her father's sermons had made him a significant recording star (which is why the Rev. gets cited on the label of this record). It was also issued on this J-V-B LP. The single was also later picked up by Chess subsidiary Checker, and much later reissued on this CD of Aretha's earliest recordings.
  23. Aretha Franklin, RIP

    Sad, sad day. Truly one of the greatest voices in the history of American music. Here she is in her prime, ripping it up at home at Cobo Arena in Detroit on "Aretha Franklin Day", Feb. 16 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the presenters at this event. Often forgotten now is Aretha's work (and, of course, the core work of her father) in the civil rights movement. She also performed at MLK's funeral. I was fortunate enough to see her when she was still close to being in her best voice, in a benefit concert in Feb. 1976 at Masonic Temple in Detroit. It wasn't quite as ecstatic as the show in the clip, but it was pretty damn close. My best friend's mother, who had lived near her and gone to school with Aretha and her siblings as a kid, took us backstage to meet her after the show, and she was wiped out but gracious and friendly with that famous smile.
  24. Birks/Birk's/Birks'

    Mark, nice to hear that Dave is still with us and still doing OK. Back in the late '40s and early '50s he was in a group of jazz-crazed (and otherwise-crazed) young men that included my father. But Dave was the one with enough money to put his passion into action, so while my dad was penning record reviews for little neighborhood shopping papers Dave was in a recording studio with Dizzy Gillespie and many other greats. I later went to high school with his son, and Dave hired on a few of my classmates for part-time work at his company cleaning up ugly messes. I still have a few of my dad's old DeeGee 78s stuffed in the shelves over at our family place in Ontario, and a photo of my 2 year old self shaking Dizzy's hand at a benefit for one of my father's organizations.
  25. Cecil Taylor RIP

    I just caught up with this news in the middle of the night last night when I was listening to the end of the Billie Holiday birthday broadcast after my return from Montreal and it segued into the Cecil Taylor memorial broadcast (going continuously until 9:30 AM tomorrow). A massive loss of a completely unique yet deeply and broadly influential, voice in American and global music. He will be missed, and, more importantly, he will be remembered. I was fortunate enough to see him 3 times, in shows that were always bracing, thought-provoking, challenging, and most of all deeply experienced and enjoyed. The most memorable one for me was a massive collaboration/duel with another now-gone great of this music, Max Roach. Goodbye Cecil.