January 2024

On the Cover


The ‘Pansy Craze’ Pioneered LGBT Acceptance in America

It’s tempting to think of LGBT acceptance and allyship as a very 21st-century phenomenon, distinct from the dark ages of yore when queer communities hid themselves away from persecution. But the story of this civil rights movement began at least a century ago—before Harvey Milk, Harry Hay, or Alfred Kinsey

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Jess Stacy’s Brush With Three Yeti Chasers

So, there I was in the back seat of my friend John Smith’s 1969 Mercury Cougar. The car was nine years old by then; it was late 1978. I was twenty-two years old. I’d met John (“Butch” to his friends) when I was fifteen years old. He was playing at

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‘Blind Boy’ Paxton Lecture and Concert Bring the Blues to Life

When the musician walks in carrying four instruments—two banjos, one guitar, and one fiddle– and takes a seat at the piano and then proceeds to pull out four more instruments (three harmonicas and a pair of bones), you know you’re in for something special. Through a rather circuitous route, I’m

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Bud Scott, Fred Washington and Kid Ory

The Story of Welles and Ory, Part Two

JB: Welcome back, intrepid explorers! To start the New year off with a bang, we’re continuing our discussion of the incomparable Kid Ory Band’s appearances on Orson Welles’ weekly radio show in 1944. In our previous installment, we wrapped up with the band’s spirited rendition of “Sugar Foot Stomp,” marred

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Count Basie Part 2: The New Testament Years

In 1950, for the first time since 1935, there was no Count Basie Orchestra. By then, most of the swing era big bands were either no longer in existence or battling for their existence with limited success. Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Charlie Barnet, and Woody Herman (who would soon form

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Jazz Travels

From the 2023 West Coast Ragtime Festival

For the third year in a row (not counting the Covid interruption), I attended the West Coast Ragtime Festival on the weekend before Thanksgiving. If you don’t have the time or desire to read this report, the bottom line is that it was well worth a trip across the country.

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Blowing Off The Dust

More Memories from the 1974 Joplin Fest

It never ceases to amaze me the details I can remember from the first Sedalia ragtime festival 50 years ago. Yet, I can’t for the life of me remember what I had for supper last night. I guess that’s the collateral damage from adding 30 earlier years to those 50.

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Recording Pioneers

The Many Talents of Frank C. Stanley

In the earliest days of the phonograph, many recording artists were forced to work extra jobs to make a living. None of the workers in the recording industry were protected by unions at this time, so they worked as much as was needed. While most acoustic record collectors would associate

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Quarter Notes

Swingin’ Jazz in Chandler, AZ

The theme for this year’s Arizona Classic Jazz Society Festival was “Come, Swing with Me” and we certainly did! Held again at the San Marcos Golf Resort in Chandler, Arizona, the Festival showcased the composers, arrangers, lyricists and performers of the era. An early November weekend was met with beautiful,

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My Inspirations

Remembering Justice O’Connor

In all of my encounters with famous people (and what is “fame” anyway??…My favorite response to the question “Are you famous?” comes from my friend, trombonist Jim Fryer, who would look at the inquirer and somberly reply, “To those who know me.”), I’ve only been tongue-tied with one of them.

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May Aufderheide
Rudiments of Ragtime

Rudiments of Ragtime Installment 12: May Aufderheide (1888-1972)

Not all of the original classic ragtime composers were men. Among the talented women, May Aufderheide has likely been the most popular. May wrote seven ragtime pieces in all. Her first, “Dusty Rag,” (1908) and “Thriller,” (1909) became her most popular compositions and her best sellers. May Frances Aufderheide was

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Static From My Attic

Your Optimism is Required

It’s a new year, and I am required by law to be optimistic. Never mind that each previous year has, in its own way, been a disappointment. Twenty twenty-four is going to be different! Those speed bumps, minor mishaps, and casual train wrecks are just growing pains. Things are off

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Jazz Jottings

Jazz Jottings: A Supreme Love of Jazz

Music played an integral part in the frequent parties the late Sandra Day O’Connor held in Washington, D.C., when she was a sitting justice in the U.S. Supreme Court and after her retirement. She had a legendary reputation for bringing people together in an informal setting to build friendships and

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Ragtime Vignettes 

Three Black Crows (1899)

The “rare rags” page of Ted Tjaden’s website ragtimepiano.ca is a gold mine of American musical history worth your perusal. Three Black Crows—by F. Raymond Miller from 1899—is an intriguing proto-rag in the then-popular cakewalk style. Its first two 8-measure sections are expository afterthoughts, but the C section at the

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Jazz Birthday

Stéphane Grappelli

Stéphane Grappelli was born on January 26, 1908, in Paris. Grappelli’s mother died when he was five, leaving his father to raise him. Grappelli began playing the violin at the age of 12 on a three-quarter-sized instrument, which his father purchased by pawning a suit. Although Stéphane received violin lessons,

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It Wasn't Just The Music

Spiegle Speaks / Ask the Sommelier

Spiegle Speaks The Gassers were very fortunate and privileged to have had a 16 year friendship with Spiegle Willcox and to have shared many wonderful moments on and off stage with him. As mentioned in my July, 2023 column, he was the legendary Emperor of the 1995 Sacramento Jubilee and

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Fresno Mardi Gras
Festival Roundup

Festival Roundup January 2024

TUCSON JAZZ FESTIVAL (Tucson, AZ) – Jan. 12-20 A week-long, city-wide event with individually ticketed concerts at the historic Fox and Rialto theaters, as well as TCC Music Hall and Club Congress, with some free outdoor events around town. Acts of interest to TST readers include: Emmet Cohen Trio, Cécile

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News and More

Thanks to Becky Imhauser, Sedalia’s Downtown History is Complete

Dr. Rebecca Imhauser has just published her third book on Downtown Sedalia, Missouri, titled All Around Downtown: Volume 2. This publication includes the West side of Ohio Street from Main to the Scott Joplin Memorial Highway (Broadway). I have previously written about the abundance of books about Sedalia and Pettis

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Odd or Unusual Venues Where I’ve Performed

Probably most musicians have played in strange venues at one time or another. Over the years I have played with various bands in some odd or at least unusual places. Some of these occurred at jazz festivals. The late, lamented Sacramento Dixieland Jazz Jubilee, held each Memorial Day weekend in

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Peacherine Ragtime Orch

Peacherine Ragtime Seeks Funding for 15th Anniversary Recording

For the past 14 years, Andrew Greene’s Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra (www.peacherineragtime.com) has been performing and preserving culturally important American popular music, namely Ragtime, across the United States. Using the original theatre orchestra scores and period instruments, Peacherine has defined itself as one of the leading preservationists of music from

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Cynthia Sayer Awarded 2023 Steve Martin Banjo Prize

Multi-award-winning instrumentalist /vocalist/bandleader Cynthia Sayer has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Steve Martin Banjo Prize for Excellence in Four-String Banjo. The award was made public on December 11 in a livestream presentation featuring Cynthia’s former bandleader, Woody Allen. An inductee into the American Banjo Hall Of Fame, Cynthia Sayer is

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Off The Beaten Tracks

More Albums

The Syncopated Bookshelf

Dust Bowl To Disney The Lost Memoir of Danny Alguire

Dust Bowl To Disney: The Lost Memoir of Danny Alguire

Dust Bowl To Disney is a fine book. It’s an autobiography by traditional jazz cornetist Danny Alguire. When my long-time friend and colleague Hal Smith approached me about reviewing it, I’ll confess I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I might have been; a book by the mild-mannered Danny Alguire didn’t seem like the kind of tome that would be a thriller-diller. Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it the next The Hunt for Red October, but Dust

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The Soundies by Mark Cantor

The Soundies by Mark Cantor

During 1941-46, viewers all over the United States had an opportunity to see musical numbers on a visual jukebox. Rather than put a nickel in a conventional jukebox and hear a recording, customers could put a dime in a seven-foot tall machine with a screen and watch a three-minute performance. They were generally low budget productions, the music was pre-recorded ahead of time rather than actually performed live, and one could not choose which film

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Nights at the Turntable

Palomar Trio • The Song In Our Soul

While the name of the group featured on The Song In Our Soul CD (the Palomar Trio) is a bit anonymous, its members will be quite familiar to readers of the Syncopated Times. Dan Levinson, whether playing clarinet, tenor, or C-melody, and exploring pre-1920 music, hot jazz of the ’20s,

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Marta Sierra • Paris Connection/C Jam Blues

A superb jazz violinist from Barcelona, Spain, Marta Sierra has a beautiful tone, impressive technique, and swings well in a style complementary with that of Stephane Grappelli and Svend Asmussen. The Fresh Sound label has made available her first two recordings. Paris Connection which was recorded around 2020 and released

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Stacey Kent-Let Yourself Go

Stacey Kent • Let Yourself Go: Celebrating Fred Astaire

Ever since she made her debut recording Close Your Eyes in 1996, Stacey Kent has been one of the most delightful singers in jazz. She has a very attractive voice, perfectly places her notes, has impeccable articulation, and swings at every tempo. Her improvising is subtle (mostly in the phrasing)

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Punch Miller & Albert Wynn: Complete Recorded Works

Jazz Classic of the Month Ernest “Punch” Miller (1894-1971) was an exciting New Orleans cornetist who never really made it big despite his talents. He moved to Chicago in 1926 where he worked with Tiny Parham, Freddie Keppard and Jelly Roll Morton among others. His decision to stay in Chicago

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The Inkspots • If I Didn’t Care

The four-voice vocal group The Inkspots had an attractive formula that worked extremely well during their prime years. Many of their recordings began with a two or four-bar guitar introduction that preceded a falsetto chorus of the melody by Bill Kenny while the other singers harmonized behind him. Orville “Hoppy”

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