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Volume 18 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2013

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Beat by Beat | Jazz

Beat by Beat | Jazz Notes‘Those LazyHazy Crazy Daysof Summer’Jim GallowayFirst of all, just in case you read last month’s column and arewondering how my adventure in Vienna ended, I am out of thewoods, so to speak, and back home safe and relatively sound. Thelast leg — no pun intended — was a direct flight from Vienna to Torontobringing to a close a trip to remember.I was allowed out of the infirmary a good deal less infirm thanwhen I went in but had to wait a few days before I could get the flighthome and so I spent the night before I left at Jazzland where I enjoyeda lovely evening listening to guitarist Mundell Lowe.Lowe is not a household name in jazz but he is oneof the truly importantnames in the world ofjazz guitarists.There are guitar playerswho have relatively highprofiles throughouttheir careers — BarneyKessell, Bucky Pizzarelli,Charlie Christian, EdBickert, Eddie Lang, HerbEllis, Jim Hall, Joe Pass,John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Kenny Burrell, Pat Martino and PatMetheny are a few of those who attained that recognition.Then there are those who opted for a life largely spent in studios orin rhythm sections of big bands or as sidemen — Barry Galbraith, CarlKress, Eddie Durham, George Van Eps, Joe Puma and Mundell Lowe fitthat description.Now here’s the thing about Mundell: he still sounds great, bothplaying and verbalizing — we had a most enjoyable conversation andhis first question was, “How’s Ed?” as in Bickert. He knew that Ed hadstopped playing, but simply wanted to know how he is.I suspect Mr. Bickert has no idea just how highly regarded he is inthe international jazz community.But more on the subject of Mundell Lowe.In the 50s and 60s he worked in New York with the NBC and CBSorchestras and on the Today Show studio band. He then moved toCalifornia and met Jackie Cooper, the famous child actor turned executivewho at the time was head of Screen Gems. As a point of interest,at age nine Cooper was also the youngest performer to have beennominated for an Academy Award as best actor for the film Skippy in1931. Mundell got work composing for a number of the Screen GemsTV and film projects but eventually was frustrated by the fact that hewas doing more writing than playing and so in the 80s he turned backto his first love — playing. A sampling of the artists with whom he hasplayed includes Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, HelenHumes, Charles Mingus, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Benny Carterand Stan Getz — and he is still going strong.Oh, and one thing I should mention is that Mundell Lowe is 91years young!Other musicians who lived long and active lives and hit the 90mark include Eubie Blake, Dave Brubeck, Benny Carter, Jay McShannand Artie Shaw.Speaking of longevity, how many of you know the name AlGallodoro? Not many, I would bet, and yet among musicians — andsome of the names may surprise you — he is held in high esteem –Jimmy Dorsey — “the best saxophone player that ever lived!”Buddy DeFranco — “Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, Heifetz, Perlman andGallodoro are unequalled and may be for years to come.”Benny Golson —“Amazing! The world should know Al Gallodoro.He is a hero in my eyes and in the eyes of the many others whoknow him.”He was an American clarinetist and saxophonist who performedfrom the 1920s up until his death at age 95 and played with IshamJones, lead alto sax with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and bassclarinet in the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini.In 1945 Warner Brothers made a movie very loosely based on thelife of George Gershwin called Rhapsody in Blue and it features thefamous opening clarinet glissando.Well, that was Al Gallodoro.He was much in demand as a studio musician throughout hiscareer and in 1958 Ferde Grofé composed Gallodoro’s Serenadefor Saxophone and Piano but today he is one of the largelyforgotten heroes.But for every musician who made it into their 90s there were toomany who didn’t even see 30.Bubber Miley died of tuberculosis in 1932 at the age of 29, as didFats Navarro in 1950 at the age of 26 and Charlie Christian in 1942 atthe age of 25. Clifford Brown died in a car crash in 1956 at the age of25 and alcoholism claimed Bix Beiderbecke in 1931 at the age of 28.Mention of Beiderbecke reminds me of a story that Wild BillDavison, the fiery cornet player from Defiance,Ohio — he could not have come from a more aptlynamed town — told meabout the days of prohibition,through which hedrank his way consumingwhatever might be available.He explained thatduring prohibitionmusicians loved to playDetroit, where there wasa very popular speakeasywhich was the destinationafter the gig for a lot of residentand travelling jazzers and where he would sometimes hang with Bix.What made Detroit such a haven for drinkers was the fact that justacross the Detroit River was Windsor where there was no prohibition.The speakeasy that Bill was talking about solved their problem byhaving cases of booze loaded on the Canadian side onto a sort of raftwhich was then hauled, not over the river, but under it on the riverbedto avoid detection by the authorities! Some nights the customerswould arrive at the booze can before the shipment, but as Bill said, “Itwas worth the wait to get that real Scotch.”Midsummer Nights (and Days)The summer stretches out ahead of us with its usual crop of festivalsfirmly establishing the fact that straight ahead jazz musicians, withfew exceptions, can no longer fill a large concert hall or marquee andmore and more the real jazz is to be found in smaller venues.Toronto audiences have long memories and with Roy ThomsonHall, Massey and Koerner Hall presenting on a year-round basis atleast some of the few “name” jazz groups it makes it a gamble to bringthem back too soon, thus reducing the number of “stars” available atfestival time.Is it possible that the days of big-time jazz festivals which rely onnon-jazz acts in order to sell tickets and satisfy sponsors are drawingto a close? Is it perhaps time to call them music festivals sinceobviously a real jazz festival, which hardly exists any more, shouldnot even try to compete with concert hall programming? Calling ita music festival would still attract the jazz fans to the jazz content ofthe festival and defuse the criticism of non-jazz acts. Sponsors, whoare primarily interested in having presence in the community wouldstill be happy and I’m sure wouldn’t mind if they changed the name.It’s as close to a win-win scenario as I can come up with, at least forthe moment.Getting back to the value of less being more, my own experience32 | June 7 – September 7, 2013

is that the best jazz I’ve heard has been played in smaller venueswhere the artist is in close contact and able to communicate withthe audience.I heard Miles Davis in a New York jazz club (I remember he wasdrinking milk with a shot of whisky in it) and in a concert hall settingand I know for sure that I preferred the music I heard in the club. I cansay the same about Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Sonny Stitt, RoyHargrove, George Shearing and so on.The concert hall as a jazz venue probably goes back to theCarnegie Hall performances by Paul Whiteman in 1928 and BennyGoodman in ’38.The “Jazz at the Phil” concerts started in 1944 and firmly entrenchedthe concert hall as a suitable performance space for jazz. In the case ofJATP it was an opportunity to hear an all-star gathering of jazz greatson one stage and it became in effect a touring jazz circus, expandingits activities into Europe by 1952. The last North American tour was in1967 but went on sporadically in Japan and Europe.Frankly, the concerts were often an opportunity for “grandstanding”but inevitably a lot of good music was also played. But, getting backto my point, I did attend a JATP concert in Glasgow and I enjoyed, forexample, the Roy Eldridge I later heard in a club setting more than theRoy I heard with JATP.Anyway, if you do read this before the Toronto festival is over, digcarefully and you will find much that is worth making the effortto attend — but the real jazz is in the smaller venues or free on thefestival site.Talking about real jazz, some of you might remember that lastsummer I had a series of hour-long radio shows on Jazz.FM91 called“Journeys In Jazz with Jim Galloway.” Well, I have a second seriescoming up in mid-June airing on Sunday afternoons at 4pm. Themusic is selected from my own collection and I hope you can give it alisten. I think you’ll enjoy the music, featuring some of my favouriteinstrumentalists and vocalists with a few oddball recordings thrownin. Some of the choices might be new to you, even if they are old bytoday’s standards.Enjoy. See you in the next WholeNote in September when I can beyour fall guy.JULY 5 – 7, 2013Blue MountainsOntariObluemountainjazzfest.comcanada’s nEwEstMUsic FestivaLHolly ColeSwing Out SisterJim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and formerartistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz.He can be contacted at some of Toronto’s best jazz musicianswith a brief reflection by Jazz Vespers ClergyJune 9 at 4:30pmKieran Overs, bass & Lorne Lofsky, guitarJune 23 at 4:30pmBRIAN BARLOW BIG BANDwith guest vocalist Heather BambrickSacred Music of Duke Ellington, part of the TD Jazz Festival!Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St. 416-920-5211(north of St. Clair at Heath St.) Admission is free; donations are welcome.Jeff Lorber FusionKenny Garrett Quintet• 30 concerts featuring over 80 world-renowned musicians •• Master Class Series •• Free street festival and outdoor concerts •• Free Club Series at night •• Stay and Play Packages available •For tIckEts call 1-866-943-8849 or vIsItbluemountainjazzfest.comYoU coULd win!• accommodation• concert tickets• Jazz merchandise• Passes to Blue Mountain village attractionsEnter at after June 21st© 2013 Jazz on the Mountain Festival Inc.Jazz On The Mountain At Blue acknowledgesthe generous support of the Province of OntarioWe thank our Blue Mountain resort June 7 – September 7, 2013 | 33

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