Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- Part 2- Things ain't what they SHOULD BE...Lenny Wilson & The All Stars, Ed Beach, John Gilmore & " Life Ain't No Script"....quote Chewin' Gum Jimmy & jazz in the real.

...Chewin' Gum Jimmy told me once..." Life ain't no script Tim"...This was back in 1970 when there was a jazz club that ran weekends in my hometown in Reading , Pa. I was at that time living in Boston, going to Berklee and realizing my funky jazz gigs ' round my hometown at places like " The House of Soul" or joints on Penn St like " The Mademoiselle Bar" and sitting in at age 17 with guys like Al Grey, pre-Berklee,or going to 3ed and Walnut to hear jazz and being allowed to sit against the wall to hear great pro players like Don Patterson, Billy Mitchell, John Gilmore w/Al Grey as I mentioned in last weeks blog part 1. - was a part of reality musically and personally that is gone these days. I was listening to the two radio stations from Philly that played jazz,buying Lee Morgan , Charles Lloyd, Bird, Mulligan, Gary McFarland, Mongo, Horace Silver records and playing along with them the best I could. I learned tunes from those records- there were no Real Books then or play-alongs that's one reason why I valued hearing the real cats play live. My mother took me to Lambertville Music Fair to hear Stan Getz who then had Gary Burton, Steve Swallow & Roy Haynes. ....I was lucky to get a _street sense_young and realize that this music was something more than just something you did...YOU LIVED IT. HENCE ~ The quote I always remembered from Chewing Gum Jimmy..." LIFE AIN'T NO SCRIPT TIM"..And it's true. Chewing Gum Jimmy was one of the many pimps that hung 'round Macs Place here in Reading, Pa- I got to know him when I sat in with Al Grey once at The Mademoiselle Bar on Penn St after work at a local music store. I went in with my tenor sax after work to catch a set - Al asked if I played and after a conversation said come on Tim, play a blues with us. I was fascinated by the tenor saxophone player- I never hear anyone like this live, only on records, but he was rockin' the house to on " Night Train" and those tunes too. His name was John...but I never got his last name till end of set I sat in on. With Al I played a blues and Al told me to blow...So I played 3 chorus as I reached the end of the3ed Al & John started a riff behind me and Al said " Keep blowin got it" so I played two more chorus...Then all hell broke loose right aside of me. John the other tenor player who was very cool, started to play, I was right next to his bell, and his sound was washing into my body, ears and mind, this guy was on fire and at age 17 I loved it. After I played John shook my hand and said great to hear you...MY NAME IS JOHN GILMORE. That did it~~I knew who John Gilmore was from hearing stuff on the Philly radio. I thanked him, and Al and sat down to dig the rest of the set. The people in the cub were super supportive, and Chewing Gum Jimmy came over shook my hand and bought me a coke. As we talked I told him I didn't come in to play- but to listen. That's when he said.." Life ain't no script Tim"....Through Jimmy I met the other pimps who frequented the bars. Guys like " Watusi", " Honey Boy" , " Joobaby" and a few others. These guys loved jazz- and having them on the street, or in the club eliminated a bouncer. Think about it- do the math. Ha! It created a no nonsense vibe and to be honest- they kept their business away from guys like me or others. The bar at 3ed and Walunut.." Macs Place" I mentioned last week was owned by a pimp who loved jazz- and they had one of the best jazz jukeboxes ever. That's where I heard Hubert Laws with Mongo on the jukebox- wailin' on tenor too. I heard Lenny Wilson & The All Stars at the " Grand Hotel" at 7th & Franklin St in the afternoon matinee on a Saturday. Lenny was a Philly guy who played alto sax and vibes- he was a bad dude to. These guys were playing a few Lee Morgan tunes, and also great standards.I heard organist Billy Gardner with sax player Leonard Houston there too. The " Grand" had a jazz jukebox'd hear a lot of Gene Ammons on there and Jimmy McGriff too. Jimmy played " The Grand" a lot & that's when he had Charles Earland playing Hammond organ and on fire on it. I heard Al Grey at the " Grand Hotel" with saxophonist Billy Root. This was pre-Berklee bythe way and Billy was wearing a plaid suit and playing tenor & baritone sax.He was top level- and impressed me deeply too.These clubs were in Reading, Pa- sadly forgotten by many and also long gone. ....Al became a life long friend, always helpful on the set and great legendary player, who as Igot older and a better player, got a chance to work with in settings with Don Patterson or Bu Pleasant on organ. ....Another aspect from these eras that is missing is JAZZ RADIO. One of the best ever was Ed Beach...d in the Bronx after Berklee in 1973, I got to listen to Ed Beach a lot.WRVR-FM, New York - This was my main jazz radio station until the walls came tumbling down in late 1980 when, without warning, the announcer played a jazz piece just before midnight, and then followed with a country song just after midnight, with the station now called WKHK. WRVR's call letters apparently started in 1961 as Riverside Radio, with ownership by Riverside Church, whose religious services were covered on Sunday mornings. When I started listening, the announcer lineup was powerful, including Max Cole in the early afternoon, Les Davis, Knicks basketball player Spencer Haywood during the weekend, and Zulema on the weekend. The station moved from playing plenty of hard-hitting jazz. No BS-the DJ's picked their own records and it was serious stuff.And like those earlier graceful disc jockeys, Ed always kept the focus on the music, not himself, relying on little-known details about artists to inform and entertain. Ed's show Just Jazz always focused on a single artist's work, frequently covering a specific period, complete with bio bits. Back in the LP era of the 1970s, virtually everything he played was rare since very little of the older stuff was on vinyl. His show opened with Wes Montgomery's So Do It! But Ed also used Montgomery as his background music, with the guitarist running octaves softly while Ed relayed information about an artist or track. From time to time, Ed would pause momentarily just to let Montgomery's D-Natural Blues from The Incredible Guitar of Wes Montgomery seep through. Or to buy a second to grab information. Either way, it was cool. Jazz composer and conductor Gunther Schuller, in the preface to his "Early Jazz" history, thanked "Ed Beach and station WRVR in New York for providing endless hours of superb listening, for his indefatigable enthusiasm, incorruptible taste, and unpretentious, accurate comments." The tape recordings of the program, Just Jazz with Ed Beach, are in the Library of Congress collections.From his extensive record collection, Ed gave us music from Chu Berry and Bobby Hackett to Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughan and Ornette Coleman. It was real- you got an education- and the music was treated with respect. Something deeply missing these days! ....I GOT TO MEET...Ed Beach once in 1973 through Joe Farrell. Joe had a interview with Ed and asked me if I wanted to come along. So I met him there- and as we talked before the show. I had a in mind idea of what Ed looked like, so I asked Joe Farrell whatEd looked like. Joe laughs and sais, " What do you think"...So I described him. Wing tip shors, 3 piece suit etc-Joe laughs and and sais, wait. When we got into the station there he was,exactly as described. Farrell looks at me and just smiles with I told you so look. YEH- These things set a benchmark in my life and scenes like it set similar course in otrher musicians lives. We could use some agendas like this these days...It made JAZZ what it was and created not onlywork but a place of business for an art form that was always growing. Stay tuned for PART 3 next blog...Till then...Go listen to some of the musicians I mentioned here ok...Thanks- TIM PRICE.... BLOGGIN' FOR D'ADARIO WOODWINDS. THE PICTURES OF AL GREY ARE MINE...He was standing in my mom's driveway in the early 80's prior to a gig- great guy Al Grey.

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