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Al in NYC

Somewhat obscure bop saxophonist and auto racing champion

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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.

https://www.si.com/racing/2018/10/29/denise-mccluggage-racing-driver-journalist

 

image?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn-s3.si.com%2F

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Wow!  Who knew? 

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36 minutes ago, medjuck said:

Wow!  Who knew? 

No intent to be snarky, believe me, but just about everybody who knowns anything about Eager knows this. Pretty sure that it got a fair amount of coverage at the time, on a jazz musician wins at Sebring basis. Also, McCluggage's name certainly rings a bell for me, speaking as someone who paid some attention to auto racing at the time. As for Eager, later on he was part of Timothy Leary's circle at Harvard when LSD research was going on. Eager, with his bebop attitude, reportedly said, "To hell with 'research' -- let's get high!" And there ya go.

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I want to know if there's ANY tapes of him playing with The Mothers Of Invention.

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I spoke with her while working on Eager's "In the Land of Oo-Bla=Dee". I mentioned I remembered a piece she wrote about shopping for Ferraris with Miles Davis. She told me it was in a collection of her work and sent me an inscribed copy.

 

51HijvCqeTL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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As I've said here before, Eager in the  mid-'80s was in grim shape, both as a player and FWIW as someone who could not coherently participate in a phone interview -- I tried to do one with him. I think that Allen Lowe had the same experience. But then both Allen and I are impossible people. :)

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He did a Cadence interview somewhere, maybe later, in the 90s, that was very coherent. He talked about enrolling in a jazz education program in a university somewhere, you know, to get up to speed with all the modern thoughts and stuff, skill improvement, etc. and he said that all the kids thought that he didn't have even half a clue about how to play jazz, and that he didn't have even half a clue about what they were teaching the kids about how to play jazz. I quite literally LOL'ed at that one.

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Actually, IIRC, when I tried to do that phone interview with Eager he was working as a night desk man at a Miami area hotel, which might have affected his willingness,ability, or desire to participate. The occasion for the interview BTW was Eager's coming to Chicago to play at  the Jazz Showcase with Al Cohn.

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I wonder if him and Barney Wilen ever got together.

36 minutes ago, Chuck Nessa said:

I spoke with her while working on Eager's "In the Land of Oo-Bla=Dee". I mentioned I remembered a piece she wrote about shopping for Ferraris with Miles Davis. She told me it was in a collection of her work and sent me an inscribed copy.

 

51HijvCqeTL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

This is my first time hearing of Denise McLuggage, sorry to say. What an interesting life! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denise_McCluggage

Looks like that book is not common! https://www.amazon.com/Brooks-Broad-Leaping-Selections-Autoweek/dp/0964230909/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1541445090&sr=8-2&keywords=Denise+McCluggage

I wonder if she laughed at this one:

 

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Another thought or two about Eager. Ira Gitler, who knew him as the best 52nd St. Lester Young disciple who also was knowledgeably into Bird, told me that when he heard Eager at the Umbria Jazz Festival in the '80s he was at once saddened and angered at how Eager had wasted/dissipated his gifts over the years. Ira IIRC said that he knew that  it was somewhat unfair of him to think that -- a man lives his life as he does/as best he can -- but he had been shocked by how far below what he had heard at Umbria was from any of Eager's previous latter-day performances. Ira added that on the 52nd St. scene Allen had been known for behaving like an arrogant jerk -- in particular, dissing other tenor men whom he felt were not up to his level. When I heard Al Cohn seemingly go out of his way to destroy Allen musically at the Showcase (I think there also was some facial expression/body language coming from Al along those lines), I thought that Al might have been one of the players Allen had dissed and that he was, in effect, taking revenge. At that point, for one reason or another, Eager could barely play on changes anymore. IIRC, he kind of got through "down" versions of "Invitation" and a c. 1959 minimalist Coltrane blues line ("Equinox")  in both cases doing little more than sounding out the pieces for a chorus or two. I taped the opening sets from my seat in the audience but erased the cassettes, never wanted to hear them again. Forgive me if I've said some or all of this before here, but it hit me hard at the time and it remains in my memory.

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when Eager played here (he toured the UK as a solo) in Portsmouth he traveled from London by train.  He left his horn on the train.  Fortunately the club secretary was able to retrieve it.

Edited by JohnS

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Just as his best playing reminds me of Pres in his prime, some of his latter day playing reminds me of what I consider Pres in his decline. (And I know some here don't think Pres was ever in decline.) It sounds like there was even later playing that shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Lester. 

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FWIW, Denise McCluggage spent her last years here in Santa Fe. My wife and I took a "car" course from her.

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9 minutes ago, jlhoots said:

FWIW, Denise McCluggage spent her last years here in Santa Fe. My wife and I took a "car" course from her.

Good for you. Was this a BMW thing?

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12 minutes ago, Chuck Nessa said:

Good for you. Was this a BMW thing?

Actually it was more of how to buy or lease a car without getting screwed.

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Ah. Good for her.

 

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yeah I had an experience like Larry's; first of all, I love Eager's 40s playing, used to have dreams of finding him; at one point I went through a bunch of Eagers in the NYC phone book, nothing. Davey Schildkraut told me Eager's parents owned a resort in the Catskills called Eager's Garden, but that went nowhere. So finally, he was in NYC to play at Newport Jazz; I called him at his hotel, he was just awful, nasty about everything. I went to see him play with Cohn and he had nothing left, just nothing. And that was that (be careful what you wish for....) - 

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For another view of Eager (not that anything said is wrong) i suggest any interested parties read the interview section of the notes for "In the Land of of Oo-Bla=Dee". He was interesting and generous when we spoke with him then.  

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Great read! Quite a lady! Too bad about Allen - "cursed with flair" is a pretty accurate self- assessment ...

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Prince Lasha's nickname for me was Allen's Alley. He'd call and say "Hey Allen's Alley, it's the Peasant Prince!"

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On 11/5/2018 at 0:36 PM, Chuck Nessa said:

I spoke with her while working on Eager's "In the Land of Oo-Bla=Dee". I mentioned I remembered a piece she wrote about shopping for Ferraris with Miles Davis. She told me it was in a collection of her work and sent me an inscribed copy.

 

51HijvCqeTL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

That is a great book for anyone with even a passing interest in automobiles or auto racing. She was a fine writer who had seen a lot and done a lot. I've been a subscriber to AutoWeek for over 30 years, and her columns there were always a must-read, but I was still glad to have many of them collected in one place when the book was published. 

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On 5.11.2018 at 8:10 PM, JSngry said:

 

This is my first time hearing of Denise McLuggage, sorry to say. What an interesting life! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denise_McCluggage

I wonder if she laughed at this one:

 

(Seeing this post only now ...)

Why would she have laughed at that flick? ;)
Being aware of the existence of THAT segment of motor racing (drag racing as opposed to street racing and circuit racing) as I have no doubt she was at least superficially she'd probably have acknowledged movies of this sort (there were many) for what they were - a Hollywood version (B movie class at that ..) of the real thing, and with youth, youth entertainment (both r'n'r and, in this case, drag racing) and a hefty dose of J.D. all mixed in to milk a youth trend for cash, this was the likely result to be churned out by Hollywood. As with movies about circuit or road racing too. No doubt she would have had a lot to laugh about period movies somewhat closer related to HER activities in motor racing too. (I doubt that the plot of the Carrera Panamericana-related original The Fast and The Furious of the same period had that much more substance, for example ... ;))

The name of Denise McCluggage rings a bell to anyone halfway interested in motor racing of that period. By all accounts she was quite somebody and it is no surprise she would have taken someone like Allen Eager (whom I cannot find "somewhat obscure" though, BTW) under her wings (typical gender roles of the day notwithstanding), and her exploits have been covered elsewhere, e.g. here:

https://www.amazon.com/Fast-Ladies-Female-Racing-Drivers/dp/1845842251/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1546785294&sr=8-3

Re- Hot Rod Girl, at the bottom of this page is the line-up of the musicians who did the score: Quite an all-star line-up, some with previous experience in this particular field of R&B-like studio outings.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049335/fullcredits/?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

 

 

 

 

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Ever wonder how the term "drag racing" originated?  

A drag is somewhat like a low car: it was used for the carriage of timber, and then is drawn by the handle by two or more men. By the 18th century, smaller drags/drays were being used for the hawking of goods, and the poor souls who hauled them around had the ingenious idea of adding wheels. Before long, the term 'drag' came to be used for the thoroughfares along which drags were trundled. The 'roadway' meaning of drag was transferred from England to the USA and, in the 1950s, the teenage pastime of racing cars 'along the main drag' began to be called 'hot rodding' or 'drag racing'. 

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