Letters to the Editor July 2017

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– A Note of Clarification –

To the Editor:

I just got around to reading the May issue (June is still waiting—I’m behind!) and found your Bob Erdos obit on page 31, which mentions that with my help, you’ve got 80 Stomp Off CDs available for streaming. It’s always good to see one’s name in print in a positive light, but for the life of me I can’t remember providing the help you mention. I have remastered all the Stomp Off LPs to CD/mp3; I sent copies of the hard drive containing them to [artist] Joe Busam and [Hot Jazz Saturday Night host] Rob Bamberger, and I posted them to the dixieland jazz group on Usenet: could that be what you have?

I went looking on your web sites for streaming Stomp Off music, but couldn’t find it anywhere. And on your Radiola page, you have a “record labels we like” section that includes Stomp Off, but the link is dead, as it points to the long-defunct World’s Records section on Stomp Off.

There is a stompoffrecords.com, but it doesn’t do much beyond pointing to my own Stomp Off site, at stompoff.dickbaker.org, which has info about Stomp Off’s past releases and order forms for those still in print, as well as my original heavily annotated research notes for the last edition of the Stomp Off Tune Titles and Composers

Index—you might find it interesting.

This reminds me of a previous time I was surprised to find my name in print. In the 1970s, Time-Life put out a beautifully done series of three-LP sets called Giants of Jazz. In addition to the records, they commissioned a variety of knowledgeable experts to prepare new biographies of the artists and extensive notes on the recordings. Chris Albertson of Downbeat magazine wrote the Jelly Roll Morton book, and in his notes to “Doctor Jazz,” he wrote:
“‘Doctor Jazz’ became famous wherever jazz was played. Dick Baker, of the Voice of America, says that all European jazz groups still play the number: ‘Every group that comes through here knows Jelly Roll and “Doctor Jazz.”’”

Well, I don’t disagree with that sentiment, but I don’t remember expressing it. And I know for sure I’ve never met or talked to Chris Albertson. Very mysterious.

Also, on my Stomp Off site you’ll find an OBIT box at the top of the page with links to the York, PA, paper’s obit of Bob and to a New York Times profile of him from 1984. Is there any way for me to link directly to your Erdos obit? It would be far more useful and meaningful than either of those other two items.

Dick Baker
Auburn, CA

Thanks for your note! I didn’t mention your name randomly in connection with the online service of Stomp Off.

Your name was mentioned by Bob Erdos (to Bill Hoffman) as being instrumental in getting the download/streaming service going, and I considered that authoritative. This page (which I consulted when I wrote the memorial piece) does link to Amazon and iTunes for streaming: www.stompoffrecords.com/ I’ve also updated my link on my RADIOLA! Blog to direct to that page.

I have the whole run of Giants of Jazz albums. I use the booklets for reference, since they’re that good. I can’t fathom the made-up quote in the Morton volume.

I see that you have since added to your own Stomp Off page at dickbaker.org the two articles that we published on Bob Erdos this year: Bill Hoffman’s interview (published in January) and the memorial essay I wrote for the May issue. I am most honored that you have done so! – Ed.

– Alex Bay Goes Quiet –

To the Editor:

Goodbye, dear jazz friends.

It is with a great deal of sadness and emotion, that we are informing all of our many jazz fans that, as of the last festival in May, 2017, we will no longer be running The Grand International Ragtime-Jasstime Festival held at The Bonnie Castle Resort & Marina in Alexandria Bay, New York, after 17 years, and 21 festivals.

This was one of the hardest and most difficult decisions that we have ever had to make. But it is time for us to retire the festival.

We cannot begin to thank the dedication and support of the numerous wonderful musicians who performed for us over all the years.

We cannot begin to thank the numerous fans who have supported us, and our festival, over all the years.
And, we cannot begin to thank The Bonnie Castle Resort & Marina management and staff, who welcomed us and supported us these last nine years, and provided us with their magnificent venue. It has been the greatest of times.
Even though it’s over, the many great memories will linger with us forever, the friendships will remain in our hearts forever, and the joy and love that we felt for all of you will always be with us.

Thank you all, so very much, for what you have given us.
God bless all of you!

Wayne & Nancy Pauli
Kitchener, Ontario
Canada

It is deeply sad to lose another great festival. But the following letter may afford some consolation. Ragtime and early jazz will continue to be rediscovered by new generations of listeners and musicians, since classic syncopation is timeless, essential, and delightful. – Ed.

– “Get ’em Young” –

To the Editor:

Thanks so much for The Syncopated Times’ support of traditional jazz festivals. Here in town the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society’s annual Memorial Day Weekend Sac Music Festival has come and gone, with STJS’s volunteers stepping up wonderfully to deal with the tough demographic questions facing all trad jazz fest promoters, i.e., where to focus to make the biggest and best impact on the largest number of attendees without going broke in the process. It’s always a struggle for STJS to find the right balance between those attendees who say things like, “What? They didn’t invite back the Straw-Hatted All-Accordion Schmaltz Orchestra? But they’ve ALWAYS been here! I’m never coming back!” and those who complain, “How come it’s always the same people like that balding guy from Florida with his old-fashioned clarinet and corny jokes? Why don’t they have any NEW acts?”

A great joy for me this year had me thinking about your own moving June story, “My Father and Casa Loma,” as I took my three-year-old grandson on the final day. His biggest thrill was being introduced to everyone in Clint Baker’s Monday set, which turned out to be Clint’s Hot 5, plus five more, including two Au Bros. (Justin and Brandon) and their uncle Howard Miyata. As the band set up, each of them took a moment to welcome my grandson as Katie Cavera (who lives near my grandson’s 1-year-old foster cousin and aunt and uncle) made the introductions. In part with his having met the musicians ahead of time, my grandson absolutely loved their music.
While festival promoters fret about how to attract “Millennials,” “Gen-X’ers,” “Gen-Y’ers” and other folks younger than AARP membership-card-carriers but old enough to order drinks at the festival bars, much like your father, the musicians themselves know that you can never start the kids too early. Get ’em when they’re just three years old, and maybe there will still be traditional jazz festivals decades from now.

Rob Sawyer
Sacramento, CA

My point exactly. Thank you! – Ed.

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