Al White a True ‘Friend of Jazz’
To the Editor:
If you tried to define “Friend of Jazz,” you wouldn’t look any further than to have known Al White.
Al’s lifelong passion was classic jazz music. While other children idolized movie stars and professional athletes, Al idolized jazz musicians. He traveled the world listening to and promoting jazz including an annual trip to Odessa, Texas, to attend the West Texas Jazz Party for over 50 years. In 2000, Al published his book, Jazz Party, a tribute to all the men and women who brought him endless joy through music. He was later inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2002 for his dedication and efforts in promoting jazz music. Al cherished the countless friendships and stories jazz brought into his life, and you would be hard-pressed to find a classic jazz musician who could not share a fond memory of Al White.
Al’s life was multi-faceted: President of the Pine Bluff (AR) Rotary Club, President of the Arkansas-Missouri Cotton Trade Association, BBA Degree from the University of Arkansas, U.S. Army Officer (Cryptography) assigned to Washington D.C. during the Korean War, and most of all, promoter/producer of jazz performances in Arkansas and Tennessee for over 40 years.
Along with his wife Ann and friends, Al welcomed hundreds of jazz musicians into their lives, housing us in their homes and treating us to the pleasures of Arkansas home-cooking.
Al’s favorite hobby was photographing jazz musicians. His collection of photos numbered in the thousands. I now treasure images he captured such as: playing with Clark Terry at a school concert at 8:00 AM in Odessa, talking with Pee Wee Erwin before one of our sets, duetting with the young Warren Vache, and sitting with my young son Ben in Little Rock. (Ben was acting as “Road-Manager” on of our tours and Frank Tate Christened him “Little Ben Bag Boy”.)
Having met Al in 1975 at the Odessa Jazz Party, I was blessed with his friendship for 45 years. One of my favorite stories shows how much Al loved and wanted to please all of us:
Al was known to never utter a cuss-word, but at an Arkansas venue, a member of our band (possibly Dan Barrett) exclaimed, “I’d give anything for a coca-cola.” Al disappeared for about 20 minutes, returning frustrated with the words, “There’s not a ….coke machine in this whole…..place!”
Al, I just hope we gave you as much pleasure as you gave us.
Write to Joe Lamb’s Daughter
To the Editor:
Pat Conn, daughter of Joseph F. Lamb (1887-1960) has moved to live near her family. Her grandson Christopher Pagano is now living in the Conn’s long-time home in Connecticut and has all of his grandmother’s papers and what Pat had of her father’s.
If Pat’s many friends in the ragtime community would like to send her cards and letters, please address them to Chris and he will forward them. I am assured she will get them but right now at least, it will not be convenient for her to respond. Any music related questions can be directed to Chris at the same address and he will reply.
It has been a pleasure to visit by phone with Christopher and learn of his enthusiasm for his great grandfather’s music. It is also comforting to know that all the documents and ephemera Joseph, and later his wife Amelia and daughter Pat, accumulated over the years are in knowledgeable hands and are being cared for lovingly.
Write to: Patricia Conn, c/o Christopher Pagano, 127 Grove Place, West Haven, CT 06516.
Kind Praise for our August Issue
To the Editor:
I’m sure I’m not the only subscriber to thank you for keeping on with TST. I’ve enjoyed the new issue as much as always—perhaps even more, considering our fragile economy. Your dedication to the music, and to its players and composers, is surely more important and cherished now than ever before.