Letters to the Editor February 2018

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Photo By Phil WightSlim Gaillard, CC BY 2.0, Link

– Pensacola? Vout-O-Reenie! –

To the Editor:
I’ve worked with the Public History Department at UWF in Pensacola and have helped the students do some research about local jazz musicians who have made it in the jazz world—Slim Gaillard, Gigi Gryce, and Junior Cook, to name some. Since news was segregated, too, and we didn’t have continuous black news coverage, newspaper documentation is spotty. In fact, Gaillard, the ultimate BS artist, told people he was born in Cuba to a sea-captain etc., and that got in the jazz literature and Leonard Feather fell for that too. One can go to YouTube and get a one hour BS lesson from Gaillard. He did that in England.

I think the story goes that when Slim was introduced to Mickey Rooney, Slim replied, “Great, what’s your last name?”

Before I knew that Slim was from Pensacola, I had a little black lady in my office for a brief exam and her name was Gaillard. I waxed eloquent about this being a famous name, etc, etc. She let me get through my recitation and said with flat expression, “Yes, he’s my brother-in-law!” Got to meet Slim briefly a couple of months before he died.
We were having a jazz part in Pensacola. Family brought elderly man in suit, tie, hat. Suit seemed too large for him. Family told us who he was—we admitted him, without charge, and found him a seat. I regretted not having time to talk with him because of other responsibilities. Said he was going to London to join his son. Couple of months later, we learned that he died there.

My brother was enlisted Navy and when he returned from WWII, he had in his suitcase two 78 RPM recordings. One was Gaillard’s “Cement Mixer.”

F. Norman Vickers
Pensacola, Florida

Thanks for this. Slim Gaillard was an enigma—self-created. But he was such a delightful character that I don’t care if he was born on Mars and hitched a ride on a passing comet to Detroit. I tried to maintain an air of incredulity in my brief squib about him, but his is a fun story however elaborately concocted. He seriously kills me in the best way possible, like Mad magazine and Robert Benchley. – Ed.

– New Jazz Festivals for Old –

To the Editor:
Regarding your January “Static” column, let me say when I came aboard this festival scene in 1997, most of these festivals were very well established. So I certainly reaped the benefits of those who went before and did all of the hard ground work. Perhaps a ground roots movement needs to be started by the young musicians and bands coming on the scene—as was done years ago as the older festivals started and grew. It would be in their best interest to start their own festivals, no matter how small to begin, as these kids are going to need festivals to work 20 years from now, taking the same age group with them up the ladder.
Just my observation.

Jerry Krahn
Nashville, Tennessee


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