When I arrived I noticed two chocolate cakes off to the side and learned that a woman had brought them to help celebrate her birthday. How sweet. The club was starting to fill, which it did to standing room only within an hour after the jazz quartet kicked off with a Freddie Hubbard song. It wasn't long before a regular couple showed at the door. I greeted them warmly, letting my severe professional guard down. The Doorman does not need to be robotically stiff at all times I have learned while perfecting the doormanship craft. While welcoming the familiar couple, the gentleman suddenly had a stricken look on his face. I was about to apologize for my out-of-context, informal demeanor, when he said: "My wallet, my wallet. I must have left it at home." He was about to retrieve his wallet when I grabbed his arm and said, "You can't leave... you'll miss too much music. If the bartender can't run a tab, I'll cover for you and we can settle up at a later date." These are a couple of good honorable people, so I knew the risk was nonexistent. Clearly, the bartender was of like mind since the couple settled in for a night of good live music. The club filled quickly with many first time visitors to the jazz club. There was a couple that stood for awhile just beyond the doorway taking in the scene, while mumbling "Wow, wow... I've been looking for a place like this. How could I never know about this? I love jazz. I love this place." The reaction is typical. The club has 100+ year old character. Plus, the beauty and charm is underscored by its unique, location in a hidden-away corner of the city. The couple settled in at the last available hi-top table, while the band lit up the place with a Sonny Rollins tune.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.