Jazz Jottings February 2019

Jazz Jottings February 2019
Bandleader and AAF Major Glenn Miller. (photo by Felix Man)

It is apparent that the story about bandleader Glenn Miller’s disappearance over the English Channel during World War II has no end. The latest version appeared in the January 10th edition of The Daily Mail, one of Great Britain’s largest circulated newspapers. The paper has run previous theories of what may have happened to Miller back in 1944, so the latest would appear to be more than just an update.

We now learn that a “previously-unknown witness” has claimed he is “utterly convinced” he pulled up the wreckage of Miller’s small plane in his fishing nets while fishing in the English Channel in 1987. The fisherman told TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) that in 1987, he was captain of a fishing trawler. While trawling, his net hooked on to something large, which he pulled to the surface. He was amazed to see that it was a small aircraft with World War II markings. On advice of the Coast Guard, he dropped the aircraft back in the water where he had found it roughly 30 miles south of Portland Bill, Dorset.

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– Returning with Divers –

Here’s where the story gets a little shaky: It was not until years later when the fisherman saw photographs of the UC-64 Norseman plane in which Miller was a passenger when he vanished in December 1944 that he thought his find might be connected. Now a team from TIGHAR, along with local divers, are planning to return later this year in an attempt to find the wreckage.

A TIGHAR spokesman stated, “We know that Glenn Miller took a flight he should not have taken and that in all probability went down in the English Channel. Finding the wreckage would bring an end to the story and all the conspiracy theories. It’s still a very long shot that this could lead to the discovery of the aircraft.”

– Miller Historian Expresses Doubts –

Dennis Spragg, historian of the Glenn Miller Archive, welcomed the TAGHAR search, but had his doubts. “The Norseman would probably have disintegrated on impact with the water. Anything found most likely would either be the engine or the cockpit which were made of aluminum. The wings and fuselage were lightweight and made out of fabric, which would have broken up. Plus the area cited is well west of the flight course the aircraft would have taken. It’s possible, but not probable.”

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Describing life of a professional musician on the road, drummer Eddie Metz, Jr., writes: “Approaching 24 hours of travel, in what should have been a routine San Diego-LAX-Amsterdam-Zurich flight with easy layovers has me sitting in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol with three more hours to go in a six-hour wait before getting on my rebooked flight to Zurich. It all happened because the plane coming from Amsterdam to LAX was delayed by Customs. Could it be because of the Government Shutdown? I think so.

“Anyway, it will end up being a 30-hour travel day. They pay me to travel. I play the drums for free. Not really, but it’s days like this that make me feel this way. And KLM gave me a 10 euro voucher to boot. What a life! Plus a week in Marian’s Jazz Room at the Hotel Innere Engle Bern in the Swiss Alps with Nicki Parrott and Rossano Sportiello. It’s all worth it and better than a real job!”

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Jazz Jottings February 2019Jazz Jottings February 2019In 1958, Art Kane, a young art director who was about-to-become a free-lance photographer, corralled 57 jazz musicians for a photoshoot in Harlem at the ungodly hour (at least for working musicians) of 10 am. The photo, which was published in a special issue of Esquire Magazine celebrating the Golden Age of Jazz, became known as “A Great Day in Harlem.”

The photo was taken in front of a brownstone on 126th Street in New York City. The group included such luminaries as Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Krupa, Thelonious Monk, Maxine Sullivan, Milt Hinton, Marian McPartland, Charles Mingus, Pee Wee Russell, and Lester Young. Sonny Rollins and Benny Golson are the only two from the group still living today.

Jean Bach, a radio producer, recounted the story in a 1994 documentary film that was nominated for an Academy Award. Kane’s son, Jonathan, has just written a book, Art Kane’s Harlem 1958 on the 60th anniversary of the photo’s original publication.

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It’s interesting in writing about Louis Armstrong that he never acquired a regal title. We have King Oliver, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Paul Whiteman as the King of Jazz, Benny Goodman as the King of Swing, Ella Fitzgerald as the First Lady of Song, Bessie Smith as the Empress of the Blues, and Aretha Franklin as the Queen of Soul.

The nicknames most commonly associated with Armstrong are Satchmo or Satch (from Satchelmouth), Dipper (from Dippermouth Blues), and Pops, which came from Armstrong’s tendency to forget people’s names and simply call them “Pops.” The nickname soon became associated with Armstrong himself and is the title of Terry Teachout’s 2010 biography of the legend.

The best that Duke Ellington could do was when he remarked, “If anybody was Mister Jazz, it was Louis Armstrong.”

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The passing of Yvonne Ervin on December 26, 2018, is a tremendous loss to the jazz community in so many ways. She was a real dynamo and made major and significant contributions to many organizations over the past 30 years. The Board of Directors and staff of the Tucson Jazz festival, of which she was a founder, issued the following statement:

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“We at the Tucson Jazz Festival have been asked by many of you what is being done in the community to honor the memory of our Executive Director and founder Yvonne Ervin. First and foremost, we intend to put on the greatest Jazz Festival that Tucson has ever heard. Yvonne’s husband Alan has told us on several occasions that Yvonne would not want her passing to detract from the success of the festival in any way. We are fully committed, out of our love and respect for Yvonne, to honor those wishes. The show will go on, and we intend to honor Yvonne’s memory by putting on the shows that she planned for us in 2019.

“We know that Yvonne’s dream of the world-class event that the Tucson Jazz Festival has become, will live on for years and years in the future.”

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David Rose, considered one of Europe’s foremost swinging crooners, will be making his Feinstein’s/54 Below debut February 5 in New York City. He will be backed by a quartet led by pianist Lee Musiker, Tony Bennett’s musical director for 15 years, and including super-reedman Dan Levinson. Rose will present seldom-heard songs from the Great American Songbook sung in the most authentic 1940s crooner manner.

Feinstein’s/54 Below, a Broadway supper club located just steps from Times Square, opened in 2012, and three years later created a partnership with Michael Feinstein, the Ambassador of the American Songbook. The Club, with a capacity of 134 people in the main dining room, features three shows nightly as well as a late-night lounge.

Jazz Jottings February 2019

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When I saw that Adrian Cunningham had an engagement at Rabbit Hole Jazz, I thought it was another example of the Ol’ Professor’s offbeat humor. Turns out that there is such a place in Salt Lake City. According to their promo: “Jazz in the Rabbit Hole at Lake Effect is Salt Lake City’s only jazz ‘listening room’ with a purveyor of craft cocktails and beers, extensive wine list and dining, featuring live jazz every Wednesday from 7:30 to 10:30 pm. The top jazz players in the state play here, and also look for some of the best touring jazz players.

“The Rabbit Hole may be even more gorgeous than the main floor. The purse hooks under the bar are bunny’s ears. The walls are lined with gas lanterns and carved animal skulls. There are four high-backed booths in the corners of the room, each equipped with large velvet drapes and its own crystal chandelier, where you can tuck away with your special someone and forget that the rest of the world exists, and enjoy some great jazz!”

Can I make an 8 pm reservation for next Wednesday? I’m bringing my Sweetie!


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Jazz Jottings February 2019
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