fasstrack

Where the hell is Phil Schaap?

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaand............he's back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Never mind.....

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Just re-all the above and Phil; I like him, and he is totally sincere; but he makes up stuff.

Years ago Larry Gushee, the most rigorous historian I have ever known, told me of attending an Ellington conference and listening to Phil speak. The talk, Larry informed me, was, from an historical perspective, TOTALLY invented. False information, made up from some strange fantasy held only by Phil. To me this puts all else that he says in question. Is he the Lillian Hellman of jazz? Inventor of a false life for himself and associates? I have a feeling it's almost all deception and fakery. And I take no joy in saying this.

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Just re-all the above and Phil; I like him, and he is totally sincere; but he makes up stuff.

Years ago Larry Gushee, the most rigorous historian I have ever known, told me of attending an Ellington conference and listening to Phil speak. The talk, Larry informed me, was, from an historical perspective, TOTALLY invented. False information, made up from some strange fantasy held only by Phil. To me this puts all else that he says in question. Is he the Lillian Hellman of jazz? Inventor of a false life for himself and associates? I have a feeling it's almost all deception and fakery. And I take no joy in saying this.

Sounds like the time I heard Wynton speak at an NYC arts teachers' meeting five years ago.

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For me Schaap was an essential part of my portal into the music. 1990-93 as a reverse commuter, so much fucking driving and heavy traffic to mid-Jersey... WHAT??? would I have done without Phil and Sid Gribetz?? Thank you dudes!

And so much beyond Bird and Duke and bop and swing... the birthdays... Mingus, Vaughn, et. al. an amazing projection of interest, love and care.

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Just re-all the above and Phil; I like him, and he is totally sincere; but he makes up stuff.

Years ago Larry Gushee, the most rigorous historian I have ever known, told me of attending an Ellington conference and listening to Phil speak. The talk, Larry informed me, was, from an historical perspective, TOTALLY invented. False information, made up from some strange fantasy held only by Phil. To me this puts all else that he says in question. Is he the Lillian Hellman of jazz? Inventor of a false life for himself and associates? I have a feeling it's almost all deception and fakery. And I take no joy in saying this.

You recall what Mary McCarthy said about Lillian Hellman? McCarthy answered a question about Hellman by stating that every word Hellman uttered was a lie, including "and" and "the." That bit of witticism resulted in a lawsuit against McCarthy by Hellman.

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Just re-all the above and Phil; I like him, and he is totally sincere; but he makes up stuff.

Years ago Larry Gushee, the most rigorous historian I have ever known, told me of attending an Ellington conference and listening to Phil speak. The talk, Larry informed me, was, from an historical perspective, TOTALLY invented. False information, made up from some strange fantasy held only by Phil. To me this puts all else that he says in question. Is he the Lillian Hellman of jazz? Inventor of a false life for himself and associates? I have a feeling it's almost all deception and fakery. And I take no joy in saying this.

Ah, but Mr. Lowe! As someone who has yourself spoken to a great many jazz musicians, you know there are very often significant discrepancies between their perceptions of an event & events and what you might know & reasonable piece together from myriad sources. Oral history can be tremendously valuable and it can a mess of delusion, ignorance, invention etc. Think of how much you know or reasonably surmise from unique or largely overlooked sources etc. Now the same goes for Gushee also, of course, and his diligence in the archives.

Think back, Pilgrim: where has much of Schaap's "knowledge" come from? If Russell Procope said it happened that way or Aaron Bell or Milt Hinton or Larwrence Lucie or Truck Parham etc etc.

That said, Gushee is almost overstating the case out of professional pique and, if not "jealousy" per se-- nobody really wants to BE Phil Schaap though it would have been interesting to know, say, Jo Jones, Earl Warren, Roy Eldridge etc as he did-- than an irritation at his prominence relative to theirs. (Though for sure, tenured Gushee had an easier lot than the vagabond & un-tenure-able Schaap.)

Also, yes, Schaap DOES posit himself as authoritative but, if you've ever seen his writing per se, you know he's got, ah... let's call them "clarity" and "concision" issues, so who's to say he doesn't accidentally garble his own primary research x oral testimony?

Finally, if you study enough historiography, as I know you and Gushee have, it's actually pretty rare to see real historians (i.e. not slumming journalists though they sometimes do very well) INVENT something, 1) it's too easy to get caught and 2) it's too much work. Far more common, is combination of sloth, arrogance & insecurity that makes them overstate their case to the exclusion of contradictory or 'difficult' but complementary facts.

I do not care in the slightest one way or the other about the erstwhile Mahalia Jackson shtick (a schoolboy jape, boring but inoffensive) but I don't think Schaap is in it for-- or capable of-- "inventing" all that much.

If Mr. Gushee did or others would care to expound, that would be welcome.

To clarify, Gushee was an esteemed academic musicologist-- also medieval music?-- and, I believe, an amateur horn player?

Schaap has a BA in American history with ardent interest in same, especially American civil rights, but his primary vocations are discographer, record collector, broadcaster, valet for/acolyte of numerous old black guys, club booker/manager a few years (West End), gypsy educator, reissue producer (Savoy-- the unedited Bird at the Roost tapes-- Verve, Sony).

Now, do we want to wonder what Larry Gushee could have achieved with that type of access to people and primary materials? OK, that's fair speculation.

But re: Schaap and Duke, say, what is there he could invent that probably hasn't already been mangled in the historic press? Even mangled in the historic record if you've ever seen Census forms where someone starts to accidently transpose #s or names.

And if Schaap did claim something that Gushee strongly disagrees with, might he not have a source, however disputable?

Make no mistake, I've thought a # of times & even once called someone a poltroon based on their sloppy and /or rube like misuse of dubious sources but I when I did, independently, find their sources... what they had done did make sense.

Edited by MomsMobley

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Today on Bird Flight, Phil Schaap offered up the reason he was gone from the station for the past few weeks. He quit or early retirement was the reason. Since he doesn't get paid, he rather call it early retirement. The station was going to pull the plug on most to all jazz programing. Over the past week or two the station had an emergency fund raiser. After that ended there would be little to no jazz played on the station.

I don't know who the program directory is these days, it was Ben Young, but as mentioned in this thread, he seems to be gone. As per Phil, he won, and jazz will remain on WKCR.


We seem to knock on Phil, but there aren't many as passionate about jazz as him.

Edited by Hardbopjazz

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Just re-all the above and Phil; I like him, and he is totally sincere; but he makes up stuff.

Years ago Larry Gushee, the most rigorous historian I have ever known, told me of attending an Ellington conference and listening to Phil speak. The talk, Larry informed me, was, from an historical perspective, TOTALLY invented. False information, made up from some strange fantasy held only by Phil. To me this puts all else that he says in question. Is he the Lillian Hellman of jazz? Inventor of a false life for himself and associates? I have a feeling it's almost all deception and fakery. And I take no joy in saying this.

Ah, but Mr. Lowe! As someone who has yourself spoken to a great many jazz musicians, you know there are very often significant discrepancies between their perceptions of an event & events and what you might know & reasonable piece together from myriad sources. Oral history can be tremendously valuable and it can a mess of delusion, ignorance, invention etc. Think of how much you know or reasonably surmise from unique or largely overlooked sources etc. Now the same goes for Gushee also, of course, and his diligence in the archives.

Think back, Pilgrim: where has much of Schaap's "knowledge" come from? If Russell Procope said it happened that way or Aaron Bell or Milt Hinton or Larwrence Lucie or Truck Parham etc etc.

That said, Gushee is almost overstating the case out of professional pique and, if not "jealousy" per se-- nobody really wants to BE Phil Schaap though it would have been interesting to know, say, Jo Jones, Earl Warren, Roy Eldridge etc as he did-- than an irritation at his prominence relative to theirs. (Though for sure, tenured Gushee had an easier lot than the vagabond & un-tenure-able Schaap.)

Also, yes, Schaap DOES posit himself as authoritative but, if you've ever seen his writing per se, you know he's got, ah... let's call them "clarity" and "concision" issues, so who's to say he doesn't accidentally garble his own primary research x oral testimony?

Finally, if you study enough historiography, as I know you and Gushee have, it's actually pretty rare to see real historians (i.e. not slumming journalists though they sometimes do very well) INVENT something, 1) it's too easy to get caught and 2) it's too much work. Far more common, is combination of sloth, arrogance & insecurity that makes them overstate their case to the exclusion of contradictory or 'difficult' but complementary facts.

I do not care in the slightest one way or the other about the erstwhile Mahalia Jackson shtick (a schoolboy jape, boring but inoffensive) but I don't think Schaap is in it for-- or capable of-- "inventing" all that much.

If Mr. Gushee did or others would care to expound, that would be welcome.

To clarify, Gushee was an esteemed academic musicologist-- also medieval music?-- and, I believe, an amateur horn player?

Schaap has a BA in American history with ardent interest in same, especially American civil rights, but his primary vocations are discographer, record collector, broadcaster, valet for/acolyte of numerous old black guys, club booker/manager a few years (West End), gypsy educator, reissue producer (Savoy-- the unedited Bird at the Roost tapes-- Verve, Sony).

Now, do we want to wonder what Larry Gushee could have achieved with that type of access to people and primary materials? OK, that's fair speculation.

But re: Schaap and Duke, say, what is there he could invent that probably hasn't already been mangled in the historic press? Even mangled in the historic record if you've ever seen Census forms where someone starts to accidently transpose #s or names.

And if Schaap did claim something that Gushee strongly disagrees with, might he not have a source, however disputable?

Make no mistake, I've thought a # of times & even once called someone a poltroon based on their sloppy and /or rube like misuse of dubious sources but I when I did, independently, find their sources... what they had done did make sense.

Moms -- Larry Gushee died on Jan. 6 of this year:

http://www.news-gazette.com/obituaries/2015-01-25/lawrence-gushee.html

Never having heard Schaap on the air nor having met him, I can have no personal opinion of or knowledge about his good deeds or alleged misdeeds. But the ire that George Avakian bears toward Schapp for quite specific factual reasons carries a fair amount of weight to me -- and I have met Avakian, who is an estimable man personally and one whose achievements and good deeds in the world of jazz and elsewhere are known to me and to many of us. I combine this with the similarly detailed distaste toward Schaap of Chris Albertson -- who can be a stern judge when it comes to, shall we say "mixed," figures like John Hammond, Frank Driggs, and Schaap, but whose assertions about them, to my knowledge, have always proved to be true -- and I'm more than inclined to trust Avakian and Chris.

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There's definitely some weirdness going on at KCR. They had a fund drive recently that came only about a year or so after their last one.

Phil said on the previous fund drive that they don't have annual fund drives, but they had an equipment repair emergency, so that convinced me to donate some money.

The recent fund drive didn't mention any specific reason why they were having it- just some desperate survival pleas.

Schaap has been hinting that he's not going to be around much longer on his shows in the last year, and mentioned that he's been training some people to carry on his legacy.

I don't think they can eliminate jazz from KCR, because it is part of their charter, but it seems like they might be planning to cut back on their jazz programming for whatever reason.

Twelve years of the ultimate, 'true believer ' of capitalism, Bloomberg, has created a city where nothing survives unless it is turning a constant profit, so nothing would surprise me at this point...

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Moms -- Larry Gushee died on Jan. 6 of this year:

http://www.news-gazette.com/obituaries/2015-01-25/lawrence-gushee.html

Never having heard Schaap on the air nor having met him, I can have no personal opinion of or knowledge about his good deeds or alleged misdeeds. But the ire that George Avakian bears toward Schapp for quite specific factual reasons carries a fair amount of weight to me -- and I have met Avakian, who is an estimable man personally and one whose achievements and good deeds in the world of jazz and elsewhere are known to me and to many of us. I combine this with the similarly detailed distaste toward Schaap of Chris Albertson -- who can be a stern judge when it comes to, shall we say "mixed," figures like John Hammond, Frank Driggs, and Schaap, but whose assertions about them, to my knowledge, have always proved to be true -- and I'm more than inclined to trust Avakian and Chris.

LK-- I don't think Schaap flawless but fortunately or un- he's overwhelmingly working in oral tradition so we don't know where he's getting x, y, z or how he's synthesizing. But he's definitely done lots of reseeach on certain topics-- Bird most obviously-- and has historical and musical insights to offer. Also, tho' he can be imperious about dates etc, his pushing of interview subjects (moreso in past when more swing & bop players were alive) is generally towards greater good. They played a jillion gigs, might have made hundreds of record dates, memories blur etc.

re: Chris Albertson, while I respect what he did, his judgements are... "stern" is a generous way of putting it. And where did Chris come from again?

re: Avakian, a prince of an executive etc, sure, but-- not to make too much of a class argument here-- an executive nonetheless and where did HE come from & how much power he did he wield?

for better/worse, Schaap is coming from mixed-race middle class Queens, New York, jazz fan parents (ardently so in his father) (ADOPTED the ghost of Chris Albertson will remind us), damn near a surrogate father/uncle in Jo Jones, frequent contact and conversation and later some work, broadcasting with TONS old(er) black guys & their families (he'll shout out the Eldridge family, the Eddie Durham family etc etc), he ** below ** them (Avakian always above, Albertson a functionary on the side or slightly above as radio guy) ...

Those are VASTLY different perspectives & I daresay those black men (not exclusively but most importantly) spoke to Phil differently than they did to others. Perhaps-- obviously-- not all the way candid but moreso than not because of familiarity & Schaap's unquestioned adulation (which-- true-- might be annoying at times).

Dick Katz came on the air with Schaap damn near six hours on John Lewis memorial broadcast; we can presume Dick knew something about jazz and even for the love of John, wouldn't fraternize with Schaap if he didn't like?

"Record Executive" Side Q: Bob Koester, I believe, took a bus east for the 1963 March on Washington. What did George Avakian do?

***

SGCIM: I don't have any inside dope on WKCR & it would be dangerous to admit it if I did, i.e. WKCR has always been in a semi-perilous position re: its mission both from above (commercially oriented admin) & below (short-sighted narcissistic students).

I believe, however, the 'sign' that set Schaap off this year was the interruption of Duke Ellington b-day broadcast for a regular one hour Columbia sports talk show... when tradition says ALL regularly scheduled programs are pre-empted...

I'll also note the kid who was host of that show graduated this year & is obviously a real piece of work: he goddamn well knew what he was doing & if not a decision he could make himself... that someone OK'd it is a Bad Sign.

Also, the departure of Ben Young is regretable on # of levels, both his broadcasting & the continuity & seriousness he brought...

There are other excellent alumni still there: Mitch Goldman (Ronald Shannon Jackson ex- road manager among things), Sid Gribetz mentioned above (a Bronx family court judge in real life), Cliff Price (his brother did the Joe Albany documentary recently), the beloved Sharif Abdus-Salaam, also long-time dudes who do African, West Indian, Latin music shows etc.

Hopefully this was just bad mix of Schaap freaking out & WKCR making bad decision & everyone has calmed the fuck down, the sports monster & others can co-exist (and Schaap not anti-sports, cf. Dick Schaap et al, it's just the world doesn't lack for sports bullshit... Jazz & other vernacular musics & real community news, arts programming... isn't abundant (stating the obvious, I know)).

Edited by MomsMobley

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Moms -- Larry Gushee died on Jan. 6 of this year:

http://www.news-gazette.com/obituaries/2015-01-25/lawrence-gushee.html

Never having heard Schaap on the air nor having met him, I can have no personal opinion of or knowledge about his good deeds or alleged misdeeds. But the ire that George Avakian bears toward Schapp for quite specific factual reasons carries a fair amount of weight to me -- and I have met Avakian, who is an estimable man personally and one whose achievements and good deeds in the world of jazz and elsewhere are known to me and to many of us. I combine this with the similarly detailed distaste toward Schaap of Chris Albertson -- who can be a stern judge when it comes to, shall we say "mixed," figures like John Hammond, Frank Driggs, and Schaap, but whose assertions about them, to my knowledge, have always proved to be true -- and I'm more than inclined to trust Avakian and Chris.

LK-- I don't think Schaap flawless but fortunately or un- he's overwhelmingly working in oral tradition so we don't know where he's getting x, y, z or how he's synthesizing. But he's definitely done lots of reseeach on certain topics-- Bird most obviously-- and has historical and musical insights to offer. Also, tho' he can be imperious about dates etc, his pushing of interview subjects (moreso in past when more swing & bop players were alive) is generally towards greater good. They played a jillion gigs, might have made hundreds of record dates, memories blur etc.

re: Chris Albertson, while I respect what he did, his judgements are... "stern" is a generous way of putting it. And where did Chris come from again?

re: Avakian, a prince of an executive etc, sure, but-- not to make too much of a class argument here-- an executive nonetheless and where did HE come from & how much power he did he wield?

for better/worse, Schaap is coming from mixed-race middle class Queens, New York, jazz fan parents (ardently so in his father) (ADOPTED the ghost of Chris Albertson will remind us), damn near a surrogate father/uncle in Jo Jones, frequent contact and conversation and later some work, broadcasting with TONS old(er) black guys & their families (he'll shout out the Eldridge family, the Eddie Durham family etc etc), he ** below ** them (Avakian always above, Albertson a functionary on the side or slightly above as radio guy) ...

Those are VASTLY different perspectives & I daresay those black men (not exclusively but most importantly) spoke to Phil differently than they did to others. Perhaps-- obviously-- not all the way candid but moreso than not because of familiarity & Schaap's unquestioned adulation (which-- true-- might be annoying at times).

Dick Katz came on the air with Schaap damn near six hours on John Lewis memorial broadcast; we can presume Dick knew something about jazz and even for the love of John, wouldn't fraternize with Schaap if he didn't like?

"Record Executive" Side Q: Bob Koester, I believe, took a bus east for the 1963 March on Washington. What did George Avakian do?

***

SGCIM: I don't have any inside dope on WKCR & it would be dangerous to admit it if I did, i.e. WKCR has always been in a semi-perilous position re: its mission both from above (commercially oriented admin) & below (short-sighted narcissistic students).

I believe, however, the 'sign' that set Schaap off this year was the interruption of Duke Ellington b-day broadcast for a regular one hour Columbia sports talk show... when tradition says ALL regularly scheduled programs are pre-empted...

I'll also note the kid who was host of that show graduated this year & is obviously a real piece of work: he goddamn well knew what he was doing & if not a decision he could make himself... that someone OK'd it is a Bad Sign.

Also, the departure of Ben Young is regretable on # of levels, both his broadcasting & the continuity & seriousness he brought...

There are other excellent alumni still there: Mitch Goldman (Ronald Shannon Jackson ex- road manager among things), Sid Gribetz mentioned above (a Bronx family court judge in real life), Cliff Price (his brother did the Joe Albany documentary recently), the beloved Sharif Abdus-Salaam, also long-time dudes who do African, West Indian, Latin music shows etc.

Hopefully this was just bad mix of Schaap freaking out & WKCR making bad decision & everyone has calmed the fuck down, the sports monster & others can co-exist (and Schaap not anti-sports, cf. Dick Schaap et al, it's just the world doesn't lack for sports bullshit... Jazz & other vernacular musics & real community news, arts programming... isn't abundant (stating the obvious, I know)).

Moms -- I have no idea what you mean by these remarks, especially the "where did he come from?" business:

're: Chris Albertson, while I respect what he did, his judgements are... "stern" is a generous way of putting it. And where did Chris come from again?

're: Avakian, a prince of an executive etc, sure, but-- not to make too much of a class argument here-- an executive nonetheless and where did HE come from & how much power he did he wield?'

"for better/worse, Schaap is coming from mixed-race middle class Queens, New York, jazz fan parents"

Chris comes from Denmark and arrived here under by-the-bootstraps circumstances, I believe. He had a job in radio for many years at a public station and produced a number of important recordings, especially of New Orleans and other older musicians who otherwise might have been forgotten. He's been a freelance music journalist. He wrote one of the best jazz biographies.

Avakian you disparage/dismiss as some sort of dabbling aristocrat? More so than the Erteguns? Than John Hammond, for freaking sake? My attitude has always been that "everybody's got to be some place," and it's what you do from then on that counts. Also you seem to be saying that Schaap's "mixed-race middle class Queens, New York, jazz fan parents" background in itself amount to a big plus or a saving grace? How so?

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...He wrote one of the best jazz biographies...

>>>

a small, but important clarification - bessie smith is a blues singer, not a jazz singer.

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Moms -- I have no idea what you mean by these remarks, especially the "where did he come from?" business:

're: Chris Albertson, while I respect what he did, his judgements are... "stern" is a generous way of putting it. And where did Chris come from again?

're: Avakian, a prince of an executive etc, sure, but-- not to make too much of a class argument here-- an executive nonetheless and where did HE come from & how much power he did he wield?'

"for better/worse, Schaap is coming from mixed-race middle class Queens, New York, jazz fan parents"

Chris comes from Denmark and arrived here under by-the-bootstraps circumstances, I believe. He had a job in radio for many years at a public station and produced a number of important recordings, especially of New Orleans and other older musicians who otherwise might have been forgotten. He's been a freelance music journalist. He wrote one of the best jazz biographies.

Avakian you disparage/dismiss as some sort of dabbling aristocrat? More so than the Erteguns? Than John Hammond, for freaking sake? My attitude has always been that "everybody's got to be some place," and it's what you do from then on that counts. Also you seem to be saying that Schaap's "mixed-race middle class Queens, New York, jazz fan parents" background in itself amount to a big plus or a saving grace? How so?

Neither disparage nor dismiss Avakian but I don't think an Armenian aristocrat & record industry BOSS is himself in a great position to go after a Queens kid who heard it from the sources, i.e. the black people Avakian hired.

Schaap very well might be wrong-- I don't know what specific issue we're talking of-- but of all possible disputes, you (generally, not LK) think Schaap is making something up just to fuck with George? To claim some fragment of "his" "legacy"? (As opposed to the legacy of the music makers themselves.)

And, even if "it" is untrue, where did Schaap get the ** idea ** ? I am positing that Schaap is largely not creative and that most arguments against his history are in fact against those men who were his sources, sometimes in public (on air), often in private.

Also, I'm not saying Phil Schaap = Billy Taylor or Rex Stewart (say) in his relations with black folks but he's a hell of lot closer and than George Avakian.

And I'm certainly not carrying any water for the Erteguns though Neshui had decent taste & Jerry Wexler on his best days was half-a-mensch... though I didn't work for Stax Records either-- they might have a different opinion.

Chris A. I wouldn't care to comment upon further but save Denmark, for all its fine qualities, is not Queens & affinity-- i'll even grant empathy-- is not immersion.

orphan Q: Abel Meeropol, compared to Ahmet Ertegun or Mr. Avakian.

John Hammond Jr. does have a nice collection of Hawaiian shirts.

Edited by MomsMobley

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Phil has a lot of recent jazz history stuff on you tube that I haven't checked out, but he appears interviewing Joe Albany in "A Jazz Life" here:

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15 seconds of color bars and audio tone.

For your convenience.

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15 seconds of color bars and audio tone.

For your convenience.

Adjust your dials appropriately! Joe Albany movie director is brother of Cliff Price mentioned upstream somewhere.

And again, what evidence is there that Phil Schaap is a creative individual?

Yet we're supposed to believe Albertson and Avakian that Schaap is just making shit up... to what purpose?

He may be wrong but he probably has reasons for stating what he does--

And he might be correct or the point may be arguable & one it's one ofay's word versus another's, who was there-- & who perceived & remembers things as they wish-- & who has talked to people who were-- & their view too is subjective.

I don't get the surety here over who's right and who's wrong tho' if there are specific disputations, they'd be interesting to review.

Edited by MomsMobley

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Moms -- What's with all this "BOSS" versus "Queen's kid" stuff? Does being from Queens automatically make you an honest man? Does being from Armenia and going to Yale make you a liar and/or someone who only "hired" black people, having obviously being ruled out on a class and race basis from relating to them in any other way? If that's how think, you live in a very circumscribed world.

As for the specific issues that Avakian has with Schaap, I think that most (but probably not all) of them have to do with the latter's liner notes to the Complete Ellington at Newport set, which make many disparaging assertions about what Avakian did and didn't do in relation to the Newport Concert and its aftermath that Avakian, who was of course there, a participant-witness, adamantly disputes. I once read a chapter and verse account of all this, which I no longer recall fully and can't find, but it left me with the definite feeling that Schaap was making up all sorts of shit -- in particular, who requested that some of the concert numbers be re-recorded in the studio (Schaap says that it was Avakian, and that Duke was dismayed; Avakian says that it was Ellington, in part because rhe band's execution of the "Newport Jazz Fesitval Suite" was haphazard, in part because Johnny Hodges had flubbed his familar glissando on "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good)."

Also, Avakian's original liner notes make much of Jo Jones' role during "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," egging the band on as he kept time with a rolled-up newspaper from just off stage, an event that Avakian witnessed because he was standing an arm-and-a-half away from Jones and could see his interaction with the band -- ''first the reed section," Avakian wrote, in the original liner notes, "and then the trombones and finally the rest of the band picked up on Jo, who was shouting encouragement and swatting the stage with the edge of the newspaper..." Schaap insists that Jones' role as key encouraging force during that performance is a fiction perpetrated by Avakian, and that many members of the band found Avakian's account of Jones' role offensive (Schaap names Cat Anderson, Willie Cook, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Butter Jackson, Ray Nance, Russell Procope, Clark Terry, Jimmy Woode, Britt Woodman, and Sam Woodyard as those who have done so, though Schaap cites no sources for their testimony. Interesting, perhaps, that given Schaap's closeness to Jo Jones, Jones' account of what happened that night is something that Schaap either never obtained or, if he did, chose not to mention.)

OK -- let's assume for the sake of argument that Avakian distorted or grossly misunderstood what actually happened during D&C. (BTW, others who were present in the crowd that night -- notably the blonde woman, Elaine Anderson, whose abandoned dancing to Gonsalves solo served to stoke audience response to this already exciting musical event -- have said that they saw Jones just offstage doing exactly what Avakian said he was doing and saw the band and Gonsalves react to what Jones was doing just as Avakian said that they did.) But if Avakian did distort or misunderstand what happened, why would he do so? Because it made for a good story would be a reasonable guess. Why would the members of the band, contacted at some point down the road (if it was by Schaap, one would assume that this would have been years later), say that Jones had nothing to do how they played on D&C? Because they were proud of their performance, resented any implication that they needed to be egged on by Jo Jones to play at the top their game, and/or they just had no memory of anyone in the band taking notice of Jones -- all these would be good guesses. And if Avakian, who was of course actually there, had not distorted or misunderstood what actually happened, why would Schaap say that he did? To further the impression that Schaap not only knows all the inside stuff about jazz that's worth knowing but also that others who might have been or claim to have been in a knowledgable inside position were, in fact, bullshit or ripoff artists or know nothings. You pays your money and you makes your choice.

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Elaine Anderson’s account:

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/27/nyregion/public-lives.html

And an interview with her and Avakian:

Dear George [Avakian]:

. . . . . to answer your questions and to let the internet group of Ellington collectors and scholars know the truth and the facts of that momentous evening, let me recall to the best of my ability (after all it was a long time ago) what really happened: HERE GOES:

My husband, Larry Anderson (Anderson, Little Co.), Ted LeSavoy and Ed Capuano (Newport Finishing Co.) bought the box for the entire festival as we always had from the inception of the very first festival in the Newport Casino. After the Chico Hamilton group finished playing, the Ellington band took the stage at which time it was getting quite late and a lot of the audience was leaving and they played "The Newport Jazz Festival Suite" not too inspiring at this juncture.

G. A. interrupts: Elaine is right. As Duke had anticipated, the band would disappoint him and themselves because of lack of preparation. He told them just before they went on-stage, "I know we haven't had time to prepare the Suite properly, but don't worry if it doesn't come off well, because I've asked George to reserve the studio Monday Strayhorn will mark the score as we play, and he and George and I will check the tape against it Monday morning, and I'll call you at the hotel to come in the afternoon and we'll fix anything that needs fixing. So after the Suite, let's relax and have a good time let's play Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue . ."

E. A. resumes: Ellington then called for Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue the audience was very cold and at about the fourth or fifth chorus Jo Jones, who had played drums that night with Teddy Wilson and who was sitting on the steps at the edge of the platform, started thumping a rolled up newspaper in the palm of his hands and called out "Let's get this thing going " at which point Teddy LeSavoy got up and pulled me from my seat and pushed me in front of the bandstand and said, "Go Elaine" (I was infamous for my dancing) then Paul Gonsalves started his solo and the more he wailed, the more I danced ALONE. No one danced with me and I was never aware of any other dancers in the crowd.

G. A. again: I am sure what Jack Heaney saw was Teddy getting Elaine started. I was on the stage at stage left; she was directly in front of the stage, slightly toward my right. The stage was less than four feet high. If she had taken five steps forward and I had taken three, I could have reached down and shaken her hand, but I did not see her begin because I was concentrating on the performance, and of course the moment I saw Paul blow into the wrong mike, eyes screwed tight, and Duke jumped up from his chair to yell at Paul "The other mike! The other mike!" which Paul never heard, of course I had no interest in the commotion taking place just below me. But as I ran down the steps to where our engineers had set up their equipment, I was aware that a platinum blonde was dancing alone, by then. Halfway down I nearly collided with my assistant, Cal Lampley (Irving Townsend did not participate in any of the recording, then or later) who was racing up to ask me "What's going on? We're not getting enough of Paul!" By the time I went back on-stage, other couples had started to emulate Elaine, who of course remained oblivious to everything but the music.

E. A. resumes: Who caused the moment? It's how you look at it the glass was half filled? I did. Or the glass was half empty? Gonsalves did. Take your choice. They tell me I saved the night for the Ellington Band and that I was the cause of an historic event in Jazz history. In later years, I attended a concert in Grace Cathedral at the invitation of Duke Ellington and he admitted that I was the force that put his band back on the Jazz Map at that time. Best regards, Elaine Anderson

Coda by G. A.: Yes, Elaine got a lot of publicity, but never by name. That was the last set of the 1956 Festival, and nobody ever found out who she was until she introduced herself to me the following year. Nothing like going to the primary source! George Avakian

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Moms -- What's with all this "BOSS" versus "Queen's kid" stuff? Does being from Queens automatically make you an honest man? Does being from Armenia and going to Yale make you a liar and/or someone who only "hired" black people, having obviously being ruled out on a class and race basis from relating to them in any other way? If that's how think, you live in a very circumscribed world.

As for the specific issues that Avakian has with Schaap, I think that most (but probably not all) of them have to do with the latter's liner notes to the Complete Ellington at Newport set, which make many disparaging assertions about what Avakian did and didn't do in relation to the Newport Concert and its aftermath that Avakian, who was of course there, a participant-witness, adamantly disputes. I once read a chapter and verse account of all this, which I no longer recall fully and can't find, but it left me with the definite feeling that Schaap was making up all sorts of shit -- in particular, who requested that some of the concert numbers be re-recorded in the studio (Schaap says that it was Avakian, and that Duke was dismayed; Avakian says that it was Ellington, in part because rhe band's execution of the "Newport Jazz Fesitval Suite" was haphazard, in part because Johnny Hodges had flubbed his familar glissando on "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good)."

Also, Avakian's original liner notes make much of Jo Jones' role during "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," egging the band on as he kept time with a rolled-up newspaper from just off stage, an event that Avakian witnessed because he was standing an arm-and-a-half away from Jones and could see his interaction with the band -- ''first the reed section," Avakian wrote, in the original liner notes, "and then the trombones and finally the rest of the band picked up on Jo, who was shouting encouragement and swatting the stage with the edge of the newspaper..." Schaap insists that Jones' role as key encouraging force during that performance is a fiction perpetrated by Avakian, and that many members of the band found Avakian's account of Jones' role offensive (Schaap names Cat Anderson, Willie Cook, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Butter Jackson, Ray Nance, Russell Procope, Clark Terry, Jimmy Woode, Britt Woodman, and Sam Woodyard as those who have done so, though Schaap cites no sources for their testimony. Interesting, perhaps, that given Schaap's closeness to Jo Jones, Jones' account of what happened that night is something that Schaap either never obtained or, if he did, chose not to mention.)

OK -- let's assume for the sake of argument that Avakian distorted or grossly misunderstood what actually happened during D&C. (BTW, others who were present in the crowd that night -- notably the blonde woman, Elaine Anderson, whose abandoned dancing to Gonsalves solo served to stoke audience response to this already exciting musical event -- have said that they saw Jones just offstage doing exactly what Avakian said he was doing and saw the band and Gonsalves react to what Jones was doing just as Avakian said that they did.) But if Avakian did distort or misunderstand what happened, why would he do so? Because it made for a good story would be a reasonable guess. Why would the members of the band, contacted at some point down the road (if it was by Schaap, one would assume that this would have been years later), say that Jones had nothing to do how they played on D&C? Because they were proud of their performance, resented any implication that they needed to be egged on by Jo Jones to play at the top their game, and/or they just had no memory of anyone in the band taking notice of Jones -- all these would be good guesses. And if Avakian, who was of course actually there, had not distorted or misunderstood what actually happened, why would Schaap say that he did? To further the impression that Schaap not only knows all the inside stuff about jazz that's worth knowing but also that others who might have been or claim to have been in a knowledgable inside position were, in fact, bullshit or ripoff artists or know nothings. You pays your money and you makes your choice.

Thanks for this, LK, but you've just proved my point. And I take no sides in this dispute but here's the breakdown--

You have one BOSS executive, amiable OK, with his first person version. He lives in a world with other aristocrats etc-- that's life & George did alright.

You have Schaap, who wasn't there but is coming up with this composite account based on MANY conversations with MANY of the relatively un-landed & relatively un-enfranchised participants-- some, in fact, effectively dis-enfranchised in their lifetime, which is one reason Koester is in D.C. '63 & George is where?--

In the years since Newport, Avakian and Schaap spent how much time with the Ellingtonians & Jo Jones etc, respectively?

If Schaap is wrong-- & again I have no opinion on the matter this moment-- is he stating ** his ** invented opinion or the opininion he was ** taught ** to have?

The problem w/ Schaap documenting himself is he spent lots of time hanging with those dudes socially & in some cases professionally; he was not, in real time, creating some Oral History Archive etc though if there are tapes-- almost certanly not transcripts-- of Phil's on-air interviews from 1971 thru whenever... that would be a start.

Is it possible that certain Ellingtontonians did not, in fact, love George Avakian the way he believed they loved him or wanted to be loved?

Or does that not even enter into the picture and each party, from their perspective, believes themselves correct without rancor?

I'm saying Schaap is probably an honest (but potentially sloppy) representative of his otherwise largely voiceless sources.

Have black folks and white folks ever looked at the same situation and interpreted, recalled things differently?

Nawwwwwwww.

Is it possible that Schaap is misrepresenting his sources? Possible, but generally unlikely-- too many long-term intimate frienships with musicians & family.

(I've been advised btw that Schaap was perhaps NOT adopted and that Chris A. was either misinformed or malicious. I do not know the "truth" in this matter but don't want to be thought spreading potentially false rumor.)

Edited by MomsMobley

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I will never forget Schaap's "Mahalia Swears" note from the BB&B reissue or his error in the Such Sweet Thunder reissue. These events color all mention of him for me.

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I'm ok with all of this, really I am, crazy jazz people have been the norm in my experience, and none get more crazy than those who want to be one of them,, make no mistake, I love crazy jazz people and their crazy jazz music, crazy was the only valid response to those times and places, even veneer of crazy (or of sanity, as the case may be)., but it still pisses me off that he fucked up Such Sweet Thunder. Has the ever been fixed?

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No, the error lives on in the "Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958".

Edited by Chuck Nessa

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And that's just wrong.

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I doubt that Columbia will repair the damage on the CD issue, but if you can't find a pre-CD LP, Pure Pleasure has reissued the album version. It's expensive, but some good things do cost.

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