Letters to the Editor May 2020

Glenn Miller: a Personal Note

One’s sense of personal history sort of begins with one’s birth. It was only seventy-one years after I came into this world, as I sorted through my parent’s personal documents after their passing, that I was struck by the fact that my mother, Irene (Miller) Wolfe, had to have been in a deep state of shock and grief at the time of my birth – March 31, 1945. She was dealing with the disappearance and probable death of her famous, much loved brother, Alton Glenn Miller, just a little over three months before.

As I sorted through her personal effects, I came across a steno pad in which she had written, perhaps with a book in mind, the circumstances of my being given the name, Glenn Miller Wolfe. She relates that after my older brother, Welby Lawrence (Laury) Wolfe was born in 1940, Glenn apparently asked to her, “Well, Irene, when are you going to name a kid after me?” My mom worshipped her brother. In deference and respect, she probably hadn’t wanted to name my brother, a nephew, after Glenn when he might well wish to give that name to future son of his own.

Of course, that all changed in December of 1944 when Glenn’s plane disappeared over the English Channel.

As a footnote, Glenn did have a son, born February 10, 1943, whose name was Steven Davis Miller.

-Glenn Miller Wolfe

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Remembering Bucky Pizzarelli

Having known  Bucky for  the past 30 years or so, I can attest to his greatness, not only as a guitarist but also as a “good guy.”  The last time I saw him play was a couple of years ago at Goshen College when he did the second half of his son’s appearance there.  As always, they both played very well.  For the past several months, Bucky’s  been very ill, spending several visits at the hospital.  He died yesterday (April 1) from the coronavirus.  (Ellis Marsalis also passed  April 1 from that virus.)

My favorite memory of Bucky goes back to Matt Domber‘s jazz party in Florida.   More than once I saw Bucky talking with a youngster who just happened to be carrying a guitar.  Bucky  would talk with them and then I’d see the youngster  watching him play a gig.  Afterward, I spotted the two of them in the hallway or a near room area where he showed the boy the things a young guitarist should know.   One year I discovered the teenager with a guitar was his grandson! By now, the grandson is probably playing gigs.  Bucky’s gone but his sons continue gigging around the world….like their dad.  Most folks agree with me that Bucky was one of the top guitarists.  I’d add another fact: he was an excellent teacher…and friend.

-Van D. Young

Don’t make us Blush

I am a print subscriber and also read the ST online.  All I can say is that Joe and Andy have done a FABULOUS job with the newspaper.  In fact, awhile back I thought maybe you were reaching out online too much.  But that is for me to take care of by deciding what to read online or offline.

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I enjoy the print edition most because it is easier for me to read (old eyes).  But I can take the online edition with me anywhere.

The cd reviews online are wonderful, and the opportunity to click on the review and hear some of the music is fun.  I contacted a young NOLA musician and purchased one of his cd’s based on your review and also based on my ability to click online to test drive the cd.  I love the cd and I feel like I made a new friend.

The new writers are wonderful.  The articles are very professionally written, and many of them are humorous — a quality that we all need at this time.

My husband and I have been attending jazz festivals for more than 25 years.  We very much like the fact that the music has become more diverse at these events.  About a dozen years ago we started taking dance lessons (spurred by a young Peruvian woman we know who said we could not come to her wedding unless we learned to salsa), and since many of the festivals have dance floors, we are able to not only enjoy the music from our seats but also to dance to those bands whose songs fall within the types of dances we have learned.  We do not dance the lindy or the balboa, although someday we may attempt to learn the balboa.  You can see us on the dance floor doing east coast swing, fox trot, cha cha, rhumba, quick step, waltz, night club two step and other dances.

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We have developed many friendships through dance, and none of our friends had ever heard of a jazz festival!  They would say things like, “I don’t really like jazz.” We counter that they can dance at jazz festivals, so they should check it out.  They have now become enthusiastic about the festivals and have developed friendships with their favorite performers and bands.  We used to go to the Sun Valley festival by ourselves every year.  Now 5 or 6 couples we know go to that festival even though it is quite a distance from our homes.

I know how the festivals are hanging on by a string.  At the Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay a few weeks ago I ran into Jeff and Carol Loehr.  I told them that I wanted to continue to support the festival by sponsoring bands.  That was before we realized what we were in for with the pandemic.

Last week Jeff phoned me.  I had made table reservations for the After Glow Dinner at Sun Valley for 8 people — a complete table — and he was calling to thank me.  We talked about the Sun Valley Festival, which he says will be produced but may be skinnier this year — unless such gatherings continue to be prohibited.  He says he is trying to keep his eye on being able to have a festival in 2021.  Meanwhile they had to cancel their April Jazz Party at McCall, Idaho at a great loss.  All the festival managers are talking to each other to try to find ways to stay in business.

So now we have to put our money where our mouth is.  Individuals need to continue to sponsor jazz festivals and events not only by their presence but also with donations.  All this at a time when our retirement investments from which we live have gone down in value 35% or more.

This brings me to the Syncopated Times. I know that many people join me in telling you what a wonderful publication it has become. I will be sending you guys a small donation to help defray some of your costs during this time.  If all the subscribers did that, it would be a good day for you.

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But I also wonder how the musicians are managing.  It must be very difficult for them to make ends meet, especially those whose whole life is music and who have no day jobs.  I have been looking for a way to support the musicians we know and love on the festival circuit during this down time.  Do you have any ideas?

I’ve seen some large projects that support visual artists and musicians, but I want to have the universe of recipients be much smaller and consist mostly of people I have seen perform.  The idea to buy their CDs is not what I am looking for, because I probably have all the CDs I will purchase from those bands.

Take care, stay well and thanks for the wonderful job you and Andy do and for all the enjoyment we receive from the Syncopated Times.

Anne Hayden

Danville, California

Tatiana Eva Marie of the Avalon Jazz Band
Tatiana Eva Marie of the Avalon Jazz Band

Chemistry

Hey Joe,

You and Tatiana must have had some kind of chemistry, because I have rarely seen a jazz interview so neat, substantive, and timely. “…old jazz can be played without it being a museum piece, or musical re-enactment…”—on the money! The whole thing is something of an oxymoron, because as I am constantly telling people, swing is not a style!

I love this from Sinatra: “Jazz is about the moment you’re in. Being modern’s not about the future, it’s about the present.”

Great stuff!,

Peter Gerler

In These Times

To the Editor:
Thank you publishing the Times during these crazy “times” that we are experiencing. Our copy arrived here in Kitchener, Ontario, yesterday. It was like a blessing when it arrived.

Our jazz club has been closed for approximately five weeks because of the virus restrictions. Since our members aren’t spending any money at our club right now, we have encouraged them to buy T-shirts which support the front line nurses at one of our local hospitals. Good response so far.

Other than the music in our house, this is the closest I’ve come to Dixieland jazz and ragtime in quite awhile. Just read your front page article about Paolo and Stephanie. Great.

I’m pacing myself for reading the rest of the paper. We could be isolated for a long time. Keep well. Keep publishing, if you can, and be safe.

As Fats said, “One never knows, do one?”

Wayne Pauli
The KW Dixieland Jazz Club
Kitchener, Ontario

 

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