Letters to the Editor September 2022

More About Charlie Barnet 

To the Editor:

Scott’s article about Charlie Barnet in the July issue of Sync Times reminded me of “Porky” Cohen’s stories about life on the road as a trombonist with Barnet, Artie Shaw, and others. One of my favorites was about Charlie Barnet.

During a long series of one-nighters Barnet worked up a gag with his drummer: Charlie would go backstage during a long drum solo. At one point the drummer would toss a stick to Charlie, and Charlie would toss it back. The drummer would catch it without missing a beat, and the crowd loved it. Back in NY on the final night of the tour the drummer tossed the stick as usual, and Barnet threw a bushel of drumsticks back at him.

During his later years Porky played trombone with Tony Tomasso’s “Jewels of Dixie,” “Red” Balaban, the Galvanized Jazz Band, the Ringling Brothers’ Barnum & Bailey Circus band, and then went back on the road for several years with “Roomful of Blues.”

Art Hovey
Galvanized Jazz Band

Syncopated Times LIVE! 

To the Editor:

For four years or so I’ve been reading the lively dialogue and interesting writings of Jeff Barnhart and Hal Smith in The Syncopated Times. I viewed them as knowledgeable writers and jazz historians but didn’t really know their music. Wow! At the recent Bix Beiderbecke festival that changed in a big hurry.

With no apparent physical effort, Jeff makes the piano a band in itself. He sat there, at times with his legs crossed, almost dancing as he evoked the very best of every stride and ragtime hero in the history of the art. On top of that, he lit up the room with his exuberance and passion for traditional jazz. The man spreads joy!

Hal plays wonderfully tasteful, understated, authentic-to-the-period drums, and you know from his comments as well as his writing, that his passion is the history of the music he helps bring to life. What a fine musician and spokesperson.

The small but very well done Bix Museum in downtown Davenport was, of course, open during the festival. It was there I saw another familiar face from the pages of TST, that of Bill Hoffman. Though we didn’t meet in Clarinda, Iowa, in June, he and I had both attended at the Glenn Miller Festival, which he reviewed in excellent detail in the August 2022 issue.

Beyond seeing and hearing these heroes from the pages of TST, I was flabbergasted at the consistent, blow-you-away musicianship of the performers we heard over two days. As my friend Paul commented after the Thursday evening concert by Jeff Barnhart and a collection of players from several different groups, “. . . it was a symposium of how jazz is created.” Hand signals were waved, keys mentioned, two or three words exchanged, and the band took off with jaw-dropping ensemble precision and seamless solos that one would assume could only have been managed by a thoroughly rehearsed group. Of course there had been no rehearsals.

Congratulations to the fine musicians that performed, to the organizers of this festival, and to The Syncopated Times and editor Andy Senior for continuing to fan the flames of this remarkable music.

Glenn Wolfe
La Crosse, WI

Never Too Late to Renew

To the Editor:

I wasn’t going to renew because I’m 94 years old and who knows how long I’ll be here. Your July issue with Bing Crosby and Jeff Barnhart’s early years made me change my mind, so here’s my check for another year and let my relatives worry about it!

Priscilla Hoon
Pinellas Park, FL

Thank you—I am most grateful for your renewal! Be well and enjoy the paper! – Ed.

Be Terse!

To the Editor:

Please stop running long boring pieces.

Ed Salzman
Tigard, OR

Got it. – Ed.

Whatever Doesn’t Kill You…

To the Editor:

Sorry about your tooth but as a retired surgeon we always pointed out that there are only two kinds of medical problems:

1. Those that annoy (especially if you don’t have dental insurance), and

2. Those that can kill you.

Dr. Frank E. Gump, MD FACS
New Providence, NJ

Thank you for your comment. The tooth (which so far has been less troublesome than anticipated) is just the maraschino cherry on top of my medical sundae. Other conditions I have can indeed kill me, but I’ve managed to play hide-and-seek with the Reaper for half a century. (I sense he’s getting warm, though.) – Ed.

Andy Senior is the Publisher of The Syncopated Times and on occasion he still gets out a Radiola! podcast for our listening pleasure.

Or look at our Subscription Options.