Letters to the Editor March 2017


Re: Trad Jazz Youth Band Festival

To the Editor:
Thank you very much for including the Youth Band Festival in your February Festival Roundup. It’s a shame we have three festivals all on the same weekend now. Unfortunately, the Youth Band Festival has remained locked into the same date; from then until the academic year ends, Sac State University Capistrano Hall is solidly booked with other scholastic music festivals and events. If we moved it earlier in the fall, school bands wouldn’t be ready for it.
We’ve also lost a few jazz friends, Tommy Fusaro (Jim’s brother) recently passed and so did long-time jazz fan and dancer Chuck Luethy.

I also enjoyed seeing the photo of Katie Cavera promoting our event in your Festival Roundup. She’s such a sunshine girl, and I know the students will all love her. Seeing that brings a smile to my soul.

Thank you again.
Yvonne Au
Trad Jazz Youth Band Festival
c/o Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society Foundation

Music and Memory

To the Editor:
Your article about our communal loss of Rich Conaty brought me to tears. So true what you write about our inability to talk and write about death. I dread ever seeing “ISFYL.” Yet, there have been many meaningful thoughts and feelings expressed on Rich Conaty’s FB pages. May his memory always be a comfort and a catalyst to keep early jazz alive.

I am old school. I still send letters/cards of condolences and bring warm meals to friends whom have lost a loved one. I’ve taught my kids sending condolences and birthday wishes on FB are not enough.


I’m glad you published Michael Steinman’s blog tribute about Rich. Michael has been one of my writing mentors since I started blogging about Grandpa Bob.

Awesome articles by Lew Shaw and Adrian Cummingham! Lew Shaw’s tribute for Nat Hentoff is tremendous. I grew up reading Mr. Hentoff. Over the last two years, I’ve been in touch with him through his daughter, Jessica Hentoff. She sent me his encouragement of writing about my Grandpa. Apparently they knew each other thru the Village jazz scene. We were all regulars at the Village Vanguard back in the ’70s.

Lew Shaw’s article about music therapy is also a long time project of mine. Do you know Vincent Lopez was working with a major NY hospital and Neurologist in late 1950s regarding bringing music to those with dementia?
My Grandpa [Bob Effros] brought a phonograph into my Grandma’s nursing home and diligently stacked her fave albums two times a day. He also donated phonographs for other residents back in early 1980s. He saw what a difference it made for Grandma, his beloved for over 50 years.


Barbara Effros
Culver City, CA

To the Editor:
Lew Shaw’s piece in February’s TST, “Musical Therapy for Memory Loss,” offered me surprising validation for a regular procedure I use on my 85-year-old brother without ever having the foggiest notion that it might somehow be therapeutic.

My brother suffers from dementia and for over a year has been in the Alzheimer’s unit of a local nursing home. For many years he had lived alone with his dogs and his music until doctors determined that he was no longer capable of taking care of himself.

There’s a twelve-year difference in age between my brother and I. and we were never really very close. We had different opinions about almost everything and argued often. But both of us being musicians there was one thing we always had in common and about which we never argued—our music. Our music was jazz. in almost all its forms, but basically classic. He was a cornet/trumpet player who jammed with a lot of people in northern Ohio, and had occasional local gigs. I am a drummer who plays with and has recorded with a number of area groups as well as having written a monthly column for eighteen years for the Earlyjas Rag.

After my brother was admitted to the facility referred to. I began visiting him twice a week with a small portable CD player and two sets of earphones. He and I both had large record collections and I would pick discs mainly from his collection since I thought they’d be more familiar to him. I can’t overstate what joy this brings to him; and while he has no idea what day it is, what season it is, or what he had for lunch, he’ll correctly name the tune to which we’re listening, he’ll note key changes, hum the melodies, and (especially regarding brass players) he’ll correctly identify solos by Louis, Bix, Wild Bill, Hackett, Trummy, Teagarden, McGarrity, Dickenson, etc. There are times also when the

music elicits questions from him about guys with whom he or I have played.

I have to say, in all honesty, after reading Mr. Shaw’s article I had the genuine feeling he was speaking directly to me and my brother.
Thanks, Lew!

Bill Fuller
Cleveland, OH
[email protected]

Larry Muhoberac

To the Editor:
If you knew Larry Muhoberac, a jazz prodigy in his early years (who died at age 79 this past December), you’re probably pretty old, probably from New Orleans. The only tribute to his jazz genius that I know of was in my 2001 book on jazz in postwar New Orleans. I and others of that time knew him as an extraordinarily gifted pianist, trombonist, and singer. Larry as a young teen played piano in Connie Jones’s Dixiecats band. At LSU he was part of a fine group of modernists, a tradition set earlier there by players like Al Belletto, Carl Fontana, and Mose Allison. In 1955 I drove to Baton Rouge with pianist Theresa Kelly (we were both at Loyola) and played an all-night jam session with Muhoberac, Eddie Hubbard, Bobby Alexius, Reed Vaughn, and others.

His obit/bio on Wikipedia notes that he went on the road as trombonist with Woody Herman at age 20, then tells about his years backing up Elvis Presley (under pseudonyms) and as an accompanist to major stars (Ray Charles, Streisand, Tina Turner, Ray Charles). That was a huge loss to the jazz world but I wouldn’t fault a person with so many choices for following the path of wealth and fame. He married Andra Willis, one of Lawrence Welks’ vocalists, and moved to Australia at age 50. In a 2015 interview that treated in depth his work with Presley, his final comment was, “You know, of all the people I have ever worked with the only person people ever ask about is Elvis.”

A bit of sadness in that, I thought.

Charlie Suhor
Montgomery, AL

Slim Gaillard

To the Editor:
I really smiled at Lew Shaw’s reporting of Slim Gaillard.
Gaillard was very popular in San Diego, CA in the late 1940’s. He performed a lunchtime show at Grossmont and Hoover High Schools, (probably others as well), and sang a modified version of “Cement Mixer” in an oft-repeated radio ad for a high profile car dealer: “J. R. Townsend, Put-Ti, Put-Ti…We got Studebakers, and Cadillacs…all three corners, State at ‘B.’”
Also, several years ago at the Sun Valley festival, a German group called “Allotria” did “Flat Foot Floogie” as one of its numbers. I smiled then too.
Your newspaper is getting better and better!

Patrick Tobin
Nevada City, CA

Jazz and the ACLU

Here is the story in question: Hot Jazz Compilation Benefits the ACLU

To the Editor:
No thanks to the subscription renewal. For a guy who said he would print a non-political paper, your op-ed after Trump won made it sound like the Earth was going to spin off its axis. And the ACLU on the front page of this month’s issue did it for me. I’ll find festival info online.

Shannon Sappingfield
La Pine, OR

You got those two issues for free, so you have nothing to complain about. In fact, I honored your paid subscription to The American Rag and carried it an extra nine months.

It’s regrettable that civil liberties are considered a partisan issue. They should be a basic human issue, rather than a football that both sides kick around to score points off each other. As for the ACLU, they’ve defended everybody, even the Klan.

Goodbye, then. —Ed.

To the Editor:
Thanks for promoting Glenn Crytzer’s “That New Old Sound” collection. I finally got around to purchasing and downloading the 17 tunes, and we’re really enjoying it. And Glenn’s support of the ACLU via this effort was 99% of the reason we bought it (and added a little to the list price). Now more than ever folks need to join together to protect what’s right about the USA, and Glenn, the artists whose performances are in the collection, and The Syncopated Times are to be saluted for raising funds for the ACLU in a way that also sends musical good times out around the world.

Best regards,
Rob Sawyer
(Ukulele Rob)
Sacramento, CA

I deeply appreciate that you bought Glenn’s compilation—and the reason you bought it. I’ve actually had a couple of people complain when I placed that on the front page of the January issue—and as you see from the letter above, one refused to renew her subscription.

It’s difficult not to acknowledge—even if obliquely—what’s going on right now. I’m absolutely doing my best to keep focused on the music and to support musicians, venues, and fans. That’s what I’m here for. But as an American citizen, I can’t compartmentalize each new assault on reason and compassion from what I write as an editor. That would require a split personality.

And that compilation is excellent! Those who dismiss it on the grounds it supports the “liberal” ACLU are missing out on a hell of an album! —Ed.

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