We are saddened to report that Thomas Dutart, a past President of the Basin Street Regulars/Central Coast Hot Jazz Society in Pismo Beach, and supporter of the Pismo Beach Jazz Jubilee By The Sea, was murdered on Tuesday evening, June 19th, outside of his home in a quiet Santa Maria California senior living community, he was 82.
The circumstances are still under investigation and police have no suspects in what appears to be a completely random attack. Dutart was in the immediate vicinity of his home when he was stabbed at around 11:20pm. It is unclear whether it was he, or his wife Linda, who phoned the police, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police have ruled out any domestic motive.
Dutart was originally from Stockton California and taught generations of students at the nearby Sequoia Elementary School in the Manteca Unified School District. A former student, Alvie Lindsay, commented on one of the many news reports about the tragedy saying:
Mr. Dutart was beloved in Manteca, where he taught generations of students. He was my 6th-grade teacher at Sequoia School. He was known for his good humor, compassion and his love of music, which he shared generously with the entire community.
Dutart was always civic minded. After moving to Santa Maria in his retirement he became involved with the Old Orcutt OASIS Senior Center where he became music director of the Luis OASIS Ukulele Band. The band, composed of up to 45 local seniors, got together for fun and to play out at events all over the area.
Dutart also served a year as president of the Santa Maria Valley Senior Club. After stepping down from that position he continued to be an active fundraiser for the organization and wrote a “Toms’s Trivialities” column for their newsletter sharing many humorous anecdotes.
He also became of service to the traditional jazz community. He played both tuba and banjo at monthly meetings of the Basin Street Regulars, also known as the Central Coast Hot Jazz Society, of which he was a past president. They are best known for hosting the Jubilee By The Sea.
Tom Dutart was planning to play at their June meeting on the 24th, held at the Pismo Beach Veteran’s Memorial Building. The meeting is expected to go on in his honor.
A Celebration of Life for Tom Dutart will be held on Sunday, August 5th, from 3:00 to 6:00 PM at the Pismo Beach Veteran’s Memorial Building, 780 Bello Street, Pismo Beach, CA. They need to give an official count to the city prior to this event, so an RSVP is required. If you wish to attend, please contact LaDean Talcott via Messenger.
(This story will be continually updated as more information becomes available.)
“Static From My Attic” would make a great title for an antique radio blog, but, it is just a coincidence that this month Andy Senior mentioned a recent purchase of several 1920’s era battery radios in his column going by that name. An alert reader noticed a familiar model among the radios he listed and sent us a letter which began:
From Norton Bell, Palo Alto, California:
I was surprised to read in your column that you had a Pfanstiehl radio.
My father was the manager of the tiny company in North Chicago IL.
They had a few employees and made battery operated radios and a few with AC power supplies.
They couldn’t compete with the newer AC sets and went out of business about 1932. My father lost his job and we had very hard times during the depression.
We had a Pfanstiehl radio in our living room I recall in about 1935.
Do you have a photo of your radio and any information about it??
Carl Pfanstiehl was an independent entrepreneur and was wealthy.
When the economy improved a little my father, Oscar Bell, went back with Carl & they operated a small business until about 1950.
In those days only a few completed high school. My mother used to say proudly “Your father is a high school graduate!” Things have changed.
Upon receiving this letter Andy took some pictures of the radio in question.
Battery operated “Farm Radios” like these were popular in the 1920’s. Huge swathes of the country were yet to be electrified. They ran on two, and sometimes three, different voltages, requiring multiple batteries. In addition to this cabinet, containing the radio’s tuning mechanism, you would also need those batteries, an external antenna, and a separate speaker.
Many of the earliest radios weren’t made with speakers in mind, they used headphones, it wasn’t yet the communal experience radio would become. The speakers they did have were essentially headphone drivers with acoustic amplification. In this video, which walks through the operation of another Pfanstiehl Model, you can see the base of one of these early speakers on the right. (Begins about 4:38) It looks like a cygnet style phonograph horn which is essentially all it is.
He went on to Provide us with a more personal history:
I was drafted into the Navy in 1944 a few days after I completed high school in Libertyville IL.
The GI Bill provided my education at the University of Illinois. I ended up at Hewlett Packard Company in Palo Alto CA and retired there in 1988.
I have played bass since 1938 in symphonies, dance bands & more. For the last 20 years, I have played in a ragtime orchestra, Paul Price’s Society Orchestra.
We used to play at ragtime festivals all over but now play only in the SF Bay area.
We played at the Scott Joplin festival in Sedalia MO & the Sacramento Ragtime festival several times & more.
Norton Bell, Palo Alto CA
We found a story about Paul Price’s Society Orchestra. It was already well established, and with Bell on bass, in 1995.
Currently, they host a monthly dance where you are as likely to see the one-step or fox-trot as any lindy moves. It looks like good clean fun for anyone in the Bay Area.
Here’s a Dance Blog About One Of The Castle House Events
And finally here’s some video of the band in action:
Norton Bell was kind enough to send us other youtube links, to the original recordings of the songs they played at their June show, and it is a great setlist, but he introduced them better than we ever could have, so here it goes:
Here are Youtube links for the tunes that we played Sunday afternoon, 6-17-18, at our monthly Tea Dance.
Paul Price’s Society Orchestra (of Palo Alto, Calif.) brings the original vintage sounds of pop music from the early 20th Century alive for modern listeners and dancers. Timeless standards and long-forgotten gems are played with historical accuracy and verve and spirit.
Here are links to albums reviewed in our July issue so you can purchase them knowing the artists will receive as much as possible. When available, please buy the CD. You can enjoy the liner notes, and support the small labels and studios who make the music possible.
Off The Beaten Tracks- Reviews By Joe Bebco
Catching up with New Orleans Part Two
Doro Wat – Doro Wat
CD Available Here. Or Digital Download From Bandcamp
Smoking Time Jazz Club- Take Your Time And Fly
Downloads from Bandcamp. Check the Band’s website for more info.
The American Rag/Texas Shout Reprints By Tex Wyndham
(The following introduction was added to this column when a series of reprints began in 1997.)
Set forth below is the fourth “Texas Shout” column, reprinted from the March 1990 issue of The American Rag (then West Coast Rag). Because the text has not been updated, I should point out that, since it appeared, the graying of the audience for Dixieland has placed all local Dixieland jazz clubs, on the West Coast and elsewhere, in precarious shape from the point of view of finances and attendance at regular presentations.
In my last “Texas Shout”, I mentioned that the skills required to play hot dance jazz are substantially different from the skills required to play other types of Dixieland. Actually, there are three main skills utilized in playing the various styles of Dixieland jazz. For purposes of today’s column, I’ll call them “reading skill”, “solo skill” and “ensemble skill”.
Reading skill is the ability to execute a written or memorized arrangement with the proper degree of jazz phrasing and feeling. As explained in my previous column, it is the most important skill in the hot dance style of Dixieland.
Solo skill is the ability to conceive novel and interesting improvisations, together with the instrumental ability to execute those improvisations as they are conceived. Although soloing is important in all jazz styles, solo skill is most highly valued in Chicago-style Dixieland, where the solos are the focus of the performance.
Ensemble skill is the ability to listen at once to as many as seven other musicians improvising simultaneously while, at the same time, conceiving and executing an improvisation that will enhance and complement their efforts, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This is the most highly-valued skill in the other styles of Dixieland, such as uptown New Orleans, West Coast revival, etc.
Many Dixielanders possess all three of these skills to some degree. However, it should be noted that being particularly proficient at one of these skills does not necessarily guarantee adequate performance at either of the other two.
That is the reason why so many hand-picked all-star bands fail to jell as units. All-stars are usually selected for their superior solo skills. However, a group of outstanding soloists may include several artists with below-average ensemble skills. In a Dixieland band, even one performer who functions poorly in an ensemble can bend the overall results out of shape.
Sidney Bechet, for example, though arguably the finest soloist Dixieland jazz ever produced, was a relatively weak ensemble player, being a flamboyant artist who tended to dominate ensembles. Bechet’s best ensemble recordings were made on those occasions when he was matched with other top players who were equally strong-willed, and who could stand their ground with Bechet in an ensemble context.
A player in a hot dance band should practice by spending time sight-reading, or by going over any memorized arrangements to be sure his notes are fixed in his mind and can be instantly executed. Depending on the difficulty of the scores, and on the other instruments with which he has to blend, he may also need to work on range and tone.
A player desiring to practice ensemble skills should seize every opportunity to play with other improvising Dixielanders, in as many different combinations and styles, with as varied a repertoire, as possible. Failing that, ensemble practice could be gained by playing along with a good variety of recordings.
A player practicing solos is going to work on developing licks and creating logical melodic lines. Playing with records is suitable for this purpose, but a sufficiently broad-based musician might be able to get by practicing with a metronome (or without one, if he has a sure enough sense of rhythm).
A professional musician will often need to attain a professional standard in all three areas. He will have the time to do the required practicing and will usually have to be proficient at reading, soloing and ensemble playing if he is to compete successfully for whatever gigs may come his way.
The problem is that these days, except for a few areas like Orlando or New Orleans where nostalgic music is either an important part of the entertainment scene or part of the area’s tourist-attraction heritage, it is next to impossible for a musician to make a secure full-time living playing Dixieland. The overwhelming majority of Dixieland musicians seen at local jazz clubs and festivals today are semi-pros who depend importantly on full- or part-time non-musical jobs for their livelihood.
Most part-time musicians simply do not have the practice time available to become accomplished in all three areas described above. This fact has some impact on the quality of the music provided by the average Dixieland band we hear today.
Let’s start with soloing, which is the most discouraging area. Becoming a consistently creative soloist requires constantly working to expand one’s ideas and to extend one’s self. A musician who practices an hour or two a week and then plays a gig or two on the weekend is very unlikely, unless unusually gifted, to do more than get himself back to where he was last weekend by the time he finishes his weekly cycle. He will spend most of his solo time reworking favorite figures and standard licks that lie comfortably under his fingers.
Unfortunately, and it pains me to say so, the level of soloing we hear these days from the part-time bands is pitifully weak, even from many of the best-known players and combos. As a record reviewer over the past twenty-plus years, I’ve heard a pretty representative sampling of what’s out there. I’d be hard put to name more than a small handful of part-time Dixielanders who manage to get through a record (or a festival set) without substantially repeating themselves as soloists and leaving me with an uncomfortable sense of deja vu.
Whether you like the all-star jam sets or not, the fact is that if you like consistently inventive soloing, you’re much better off to spend time with the name pros on the all-star festival sets, even if their ensembles seem chaotic. Similarly, if you are a budding Dixielander who wants to learn to solo, the records of your favorite organized bands are not going to teach it to you as well as the recordings of the famous professional soloists.
The news is much better in the other two areas. In particular, I’ve observed that the typical format for West Coast Dixieland jazz club meetings almost always includes several informal jam sets for the members. In those cases, a person desiring to jam will be matched, from month to month, with a wide variety of players, of all levels of ability and in a mix of styles.
This admirable practice not only helps involve people in the music, to ensure some sort of steady supply of players, but it is ideal for developing ensemble skill. I feel sure that this factor is an important one in the relative health of Dixieland jazz on the West Coast as compared with the rest of the country (where the informal jam session is generally not an integral part of local jazz club meetings).
Finally, most players learned their instruments in school, where they were also taught to read music. If the school had a stage band program, they were also taught to read with a jazz feeling and to read more complex licks than are usually found in a Dixieland arrangement.
After leaving school, such players can gravitate rather easily to Dixieland, which is all to the good for our music. There are quite a few bands out there which are either reading their charts or obviously performing memorized arrangements, and doing a most effective job thereof.
So-called purists may scoff at Dixieland that isn’t fully improvised, but as I pointed out in my previous column, hot dance is a perfectly valid Dixieland style. In today’s climate of part-time musicians, the presence of arrangements provides a way for a band to play a much broader and more varied program than it could if the sidemen were required to memorize the entire band’s book in the limited practice time available to them. Also, the presence of the arrangements makes it possible to bring younger musicians, fresh from their stage-band training, into a Dixieland situation that allows them to feel comfortable and be productive while learning the rules of the music.
None of the foregoing remarks is intended to be critical of the scene or of the players that comprise it. They’re designed more to help the non-musician fans in the crowd better understand what’s going on onstage. Once you’ve grasped the dynamics of the situation, I think you’re likely to be more forgiving of any weaknesses caused by the circumstances under which we all have to function today, and thereby enjoy yourself more. And what should Dixieland be all about, if it isn’t enjoying yourself?
The full run of “Texas Shout” has been collected into a lavishly illustrated trade paperback entitled Texas Shout: How Dixieland Jazz Works. This book is available @ $20.00 plus $2.95 shipping from Tex Wyndham, P.O. Box 831, Mendenhall, PA 19357, phone (610) 388-6330. On request, Tex will autograph the book and add a personalized note (be sure to tell him to whom the note should be addressed).
Note: All links, pictures, videos or graphics accompanying the Shouts were added at the discretion of the Syncopated Times editorial staff. They did not accompany the original columns and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Tex Wyndham.
If you’re not a subscriber, no worries, it’s not too late to see these stories. Subscribe now and we’ll send you a hard copy of this issue with tomorrow’s mail and you’ll start receiving your print papers in August. No waiting 8-12 weeks with us!
New in July
Michael Feinstein is on our cover in a new interview conducted by Brian Sheridan.
Jazz Birthday of the Month- Ivie Marie Anderson who sang with the 1930’s Duke Ellington Orchestra
Scott Yanow profiles the other Crosby.
Shelly Gallichio brings us the details of the recent Jazz Funeral held for cornetist Gary Church who passed in February.
We remember the entertainer. (And his name is Dan Levinson.)
The Festival Roundup highlights some events we’ve never featured before!
The Denver Youth All-Stars take New York by storm.
Adrian Cunningham muses about marriage.
Larry Melton reports from the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in Sedalia Missouri.
Musician and Funny-Man Ross Konikoff tries to keep up with the dancers on the Intrepid.
Joe Bebco continues to catch us up with hot CDs from New Orleans and reviews a book of jazz oral history.
Scott Yanow reviews some great new music and a jazz autobiography.
Lew Shaw previews the Mid-Summer Night Swing series.
Bill Hoffman reviews The Glen Crytzer Orchestra’s CD release party for their new double-disc Ain’t It Grand?
Andy Senior mourns the loss of legacy music programs from the public radio dial.
A new cartoon discovery from the golden age of jazz.
Ken Ebert, 81, May 30th in Corona, California while recuperating from a fall. A vibraphone and piano player who played with numerous groups, including the Blackwood Jazz Combo. He appeared for many years at the Mal Sands LA Vibes Summit. He was deeply involved in his local jazz scene and was a past board member of the Society for the Preservation of Dixieland Jazz. A New Orleans style memorial is planned for October that will include music from the Royale Garden Jazz Band.
We will gladly share press releases from festivals and jazz organizations that we believe our readers will find helpful. Send us yours.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Leslie Barger or Patti Jones
June 15, 2018
Sacramento Jazz Education Foundation Launches Instrument Match Program
Instruments Available to Elementary to High School Students
Sacramento Jazz Education Foundation (SacJEF) has officially launched its Instrument Match program designed to put instruments into the hands of young students learning to play music, especially jazz. The Foundation accepts donated instruments, assumes any refurbishment costs, and then matches an instrument with an aspiring music student. Over the past year, the SacJEF has collected and refurbished numerous donated instruments, and is now ready to accept student applications. There is no cost to the student to apply for or receive an instrument. The student recipient will own the instrument for as long as they are using it. The instruments available vary, but are typically those you would find in traditional jazz bands, trumpets, clarinets, banjo’s, trombones etc. “We’ve received many fine instruments from former musicians who want their trumpet or clarinet to be used and enjoyed by the next generation.” says Leslie Barger, Chair of the program. “We also know that there are many young students who want to play music, but have no way to learn because they cannot rent or buy an instrument. The intention of our program to keep the music alive by filling this gap.”
To Donate an instrument:
• Visit www.sacjef.org/instrument-match/ and fill out the online form
• OR, contact Leslie Barger or Patti Jones through the SacJEF office, at 916-571-5533.
• The value of the donated instrument is tax deductible.
To Apply for an Instrument:
• Visit www.sacjef.org/instrument-match/ and fill out the online form
• OR, contact Leslie Barger or Patti Jones through the SacJEF office, at 916-571-5533.
• The student recipient will own the instrument, and will assume future instrument
• If the instrument is no longer in use, the Foundation requests that the student return
the instrument to SacJEF
• Instruments will be provided based on availability.
The mission of the Sacramento Jazz Education Foundation is to preserve and promote early jazz music, by supporting the education of current and future generations in the performance of early jazz, and in the history and appreciation of America’s true original art form, and to work collaboratively with other local, regional and national jazz educational organizations to accomplish this mission.
For more information on the Sacramento Jazz Education Foundation and all of its student education programs, visit www.sacjef.org.