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In the documentary "The Last of the Blue Devils" Count Basie says he'd just like to be remembered as a nice guy. I was reminded of that reading the interview with Bob Cranshaw who certainly seems to be a nice guy and the story he tells of Milt Hinton's generosity is pretty mind-boggling. Given that many of our musical heroes appear to be less than stellar in other aspects of their lives which jazz musicians do you know or know of who seem to be genuinely nice guys? I'll start. (Obviously Miles doesn't make the cut even though I love his music.):

Count Basie, Bob Crenshaw and Milt Hinton (see above).

John Coltrane. There's a documentary in which Elvin Jones describes Trane as a saint. He says it with such reverence it made me love Elvin too.

Gil Evans (though I've read that his mellowness was the result of a lot of weed.

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I'm restricting myself to only those I've met a number of times: Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley, Mary Halvorson, Evan Parker, Mat Maneri, Jooklo Duo (Virginia Genta and David Vanzan). The late Roy Campbell was always very friendly when I saw him.

I only met Anthony Braxton once where I could talk with him briefly, and he struck me as exceptionally nice, both in his discussion with me and witnessing his interaction with others.

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Hank and Elvin Jones come immediately to mind. Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill and Sam Rivers too.

I often wonder if I caught them on a good day but on reflection I think that all of the above were/are genuine nice guys.

Bill Holman and Cedar Walton were also genuinely friendly during chats so they probably belong on the list too.

Edited by sidewinder
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I've met relatively few jazz musicians but Les McCann, when I did meet him a few years ago, fully lived up to the way he projects through his music.

Junior Mance I haven't met but to see him at work you just know he's a really nice guy. And Chuck Nessa has confirmed that (though I think he was damning him with faint praise :))


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Oh, another guy I met - in Newark - was tenor player Jesse Morrison. He was really very nice, as well as being astounded that someone from England had even heard of him!

Gloria Coleman was in his band at that gig and I talked to her afterwards. She was very nice, too. And amazingly competent at folding up her little keyboard onto a shopping trolley :)

I met Lloyd Wilson in Newark, too. He was with the Prysock Brothers. Had a nice chat with him and found out that he comes from the same home town as me in southern England.


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The nicest musician I have met is Richard Davis.

I will meet and see him live for the first time tonight

I have to add a special mention to both Fred Anderson and Edward "Kidd" Jordan

I will never forget Mr. Anderson making sure I got a cab ride back to the hotel in a blizzard in 1999 from the Velvet Lounge.

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Bob Cranshaw is a nice guy. Back in 1975, when I was head of my college's jazz concert commission, we booked Sonny Rollins. During the afternoon, after set-up and sound check, Bob asked if I wanted to take a walk with him and show him the campus. We walked and talked for maybe a half hour. He asked me questions about myself, told me about his family, said he lived on Long Island, and said I was always welcome to come visit him. He was really nice to me, a college sophomore, and I think it must extend to others.

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Over the years I met or talked to many jazz musicians who seemed to be really "nice guys". The warmest and friendliest of them all was Clifford Brown. Others who were very open and friendly were Pee Wee Russell, Henry Red Allen, Tommy Flanagan, Ray Bryant, Tommy Potter, Marian McPartland, Lee Konitz, Donald Byrd, Earl Warren, Sir Charles Thompson, Ralph Sutton, Johnny Guarnieri, Harry Sweets Edison, Johnny Griffin, Ralph Sutton, Jaki Byard, Buddy DeFranco, Sammy Price, Terry Gibbs, Scott Hamilton, and Eddie Lockjaw Davis. Oh, and I mustn't forget B.B.King who turned out to be not only a nice guy but a huge jazz fan. I met B.B. in a record store where he was buying everything from Louis Jordan to John Coltrane. I remember helping him find some fairly obscure Ellington albums.

Edited by Don Brown
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Barry Harris, Curley Russell, Bob Neloms; Charlie Haden was extremely nice to me when I was a wee boy of 16; Bill Triglia was always nice after he first yelled at me; Dick Katz, wonderful man; Sonny Rollins, the two times I've spent with him, was extremely nice. Dudu Pukwana smiled at me and giggled a little, but he was very personable. And of course, those times when I talk to myself I am always cordial and willing to answer any and all questions.

and should mention Jeff Crompton and RJ Spangler, some of the nicest people in the world. Her on Organissimo we tend to take our own for granted.

And I'll add, just because there's someone on here (can't remember who) who gets annoyed whenever I say it, that I never enter my house without first checking to make sure that Jack DeJohnette is not behind the door waiting to kill me.

Edited by AllenLowe
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Some very nice jazz musicians I never met so can not include them (Dave Brubeck...)

Barry Harris
Bob Neloms
Han Bennink
Michael Moore
Don Raffell
Steve Bohannon
Albert Stinson
Berend van den Berg
Clarence Becton
David Austin
Hans Mantel
Harvey Robb
Jay Corre
Larry Porter
Nick Kirgo
Nolan Indecks
Norman Rosen
Irv Rocklin
Richard Saunders
Robert Duis
Seth Asarnow
Walter Lampe
Norman Williams
David Parker
Sam Cady

and some people (or names) I just can not recall just now

I like the idea of this thread.

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At the top of my list would be Dave and Iola Brubeck. I never met either of them although I got to see each of them at concerts (Dave performing, Iola in the audience). They seemed like truly nice, caring, down to earth, first class folks.

Of the musicians I've had the opportunity to meet, I'd say.

Clark Terry (who should be listed in the dictionary under "nice guy")

Hank Jones

Bob Dorough

Karrin Allyson

Jimmy Scott

Bobby Hutcherson

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Smith Dobson

Louie Bellson

Bud Shank

Hugh Masekela

Some who I never met, but their stage presence sure suggests them to be nice guys/gals:

Billy Higgins

Pat Metheny

Joshua Redman

Dianne Reeves

Benny Green

Kenny Burrell

Stefon Harris

Gene Harris

John Pizzarelli

Charles Brown

Taylor Eigsti

Jessica Williams

oh, and Keith Jarrett -- :D:crazy::rofl:

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I don't know many musicians. Two who I have met and chatted with:

Alex Hawkins (of this board) - hugely talented and highly original in his music. Yet absolutely no airs and graces. Both times I've spoken with him his sheer love of music has come across. Just like in his posts he is so keen to promote other musicians he loves.

Pete Bullock - won't be known by many but he was the keyboard (and other instruments) player in the Albion Band in their greatest incarnation - the one that produced 'Rise Up Like The Sun' and 'Lark Rise to Candleford'. The travelling proved too much and he went into music teaching. Ended up as head of music in the school where I work. Again, unassuming and modest but full of great tales of life on the road. His students loved him.

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