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I know it's not considered an eccentricity, but I read (here: http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=14608) that Frankie Trambauer was an exceptionally large raccoon.
Good call! And I forgot to mention Stan Kenton. He ate road kill all his adult life, and installed a deep freeze in the band bus in which to collect it.
I didn't know that about Stan Kenton, but it makes sense.
Kenton was born in impoverished circumstances to a family of Mississippi share croppers. Road kill was the cornerstone of his childhood diet and he never lost the taste for it. And he always carried a switchblade, which he used to prise chewing gum off pavements. As a teenager, he would gift this to girls he was courting.
And of course, there's Stan Getz' peccadillo of dipping his tenor in a concoction of matzoh and gefilte fish before a performance!
I know this is supposed to be funny, but I don't think anyone is well-served by the offensive epithet "psycho" (which too many people believe about great jazz musicians anyway) or the misinformation that Tourette's Syndrome is a "tragic mental illness." Tourette's is a neurological glitch that does not necessarily result in uncontrollable vocalizations or any kind of damaged humanity. One of the most wonderful and productive people I've ever known -- the great pianist/composer and educator Shelly Berg -- has Tourette's, which manifests as an ongoing tic of his shoulders and neck. Hardly a "tragic mental illness." (For more info on Shelly and how he succeeds in spite of it, see our interview here at AAJ, "New Moon Over Miami.")
I do have a verified sense of humor, honest, but I have to say that even casual words embedded in an April Fool's joke can perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Just for the record.
Of all the tales swirling around the legacy of noted avant-jazz eccentric Sun Ra, one of the lesser known involves his lifelong compulsive need to crochet sweater-vests for family and band members. Even with the large ensembles he usually assembled, there was purportedly such a surfeit of these muted-tone accountrements that the excess was donated to the Hungarian Army Marching Band via a standing, if clandestine, arrangement put in place by ex-pat artist and sweater-vest fetishist Brion Gysin. If true, this would account not only for Sun Ra's noted enduring popularity in the rank and file of the Hungarian military but also for his recently unearthed magnum opus "Space Goulash Symphony."
Thank God --I'M NORMAL. Mort Weiss
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