It never fails that even the slightest nod to musical heroes such as mine of Louis Jordan and Billy Eckstine below elicits some profound recollection or insight from our readers. Thus William Boggess writes today:
Although I come here for the legal and political observations and opinions, you have gone clearly over the top with comments such as these. I have personally been a fan of Louis Jordan’s since a WBEZ tribute following his death (I was 15). My father, a Gerry Mulligan devotee, raised me to appreciate ALL music (despite our mutual lack of understanding of the appeal of opera). Kenton, Monk, Sims (Zoot, of course), Basie, Meade “Deluxe” Lewis, all these worked into my record collection through high school and college. I went to garage sales and church sales and bought 78’s by the crate, at 25 cents a box mind you, and kept looking for the obscure and source material for my favorites. Wingy Manone and Louis Jordan became my favorites and I looked for the contemporaries that played their music. I now have only one band that I can gleefully drag my wife out to see, Asleep at the Wheel. They still cover these songs! Albeit in country swing, but it’s still fun to listen AND dance at these shows. I know after my chores (there’s fences to be mended, literally) I’ll be listening to some vinyl.
Also, for a great source of the old stuff in a clever repackaging scheme, check out www.mosaicrecords.com . They do a great job, just like you three. (They have a sister company, True Blue Music, that covers rock and the blues.)
My father passed away 2 years ago but I still listen to everyone that he taught me. I’m 45 now but some music makes me think I’m back in my father’s den, just he and I, listening to a new record that either he or I just brought home.
Thanks for the reminder.
And thus reader Brian Adams, writing from Reno:
After finishing my first year of college as a music major in Reno and turning 19 years of age, I was hired by one of my professors, who happened to play lead trombone in the Harrah’s Tahoe orchestra, to play “fourth added” trombone for a show featuring Sammy Davis Jr as the headliner, and Billy Eckstein as the opening act.
Little did I know what a momentous two weeks this would turn out to be. My first gig playing behind the stars in one of America’s premier venues. But more than that, I was getting paid to perform on stage with two of the all-time giants of American music and entertainment. And I was in Showbiz.
During that fortnight in June, 1974, Duke Ellington died. That night in the band room I listened, a wide-eyed teen, as Billy and Sammy and a room full of old-school musicians, all from my father’s generation, and many of them giants themselves among the corp of sidemen, reminisced and shared stories about The Duke. It was the passing of an era.
Later that night, during the “cocktail” show, “Mr B.” diverged from his normal set to pull up a stool near the front of the stage, and quietly talk about the passing of Ellington. You could hear a pin drop. Then he said would like to pay tribute to Duke by singing “Sophisticated Lady”, and he did so with just the great Bobby Tucker behind him on piano. It was a difficult tune to sing at the best of times, and Billy had probably not sung it for years. I never wish to hear it sung again, as that performance can never be topped. There was not a dry eye in the house. And this fifty-year-old will never forget the night Duke passed away, and the fabulous Mr B.