Remembering Les Lieber

The New York Times of July 17, 2018, carried a story about Les Lieber’s death at 106. He was a New York advertising executive and a saxophonist. Since he missed the opportunity to play with a group, in 1965 he organized the Jazz At Noon series. The format was that Lieber would invite some serious amateur jazz musicians to perform at a suitable restaurant or venue. He would usually hire one or two professional musicians to round out the group. I was in NYC for a medical meeting in the 1980s and had opportunity to observe that performance. Besides Les Lieber, I didn’t know any of the performing musicians. However, bassist Milt Hinton was the invited professional and I knew him from the Dick Gibson jazz parties. The drummer on that occasion was Robert Litwak, a cardiac surgeon at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital. I did have opportunity to meet him. He reported that he was due in London to deliver a medical paper but had delayed his departure in order to make the gig. In talking to various people who had participated in those events, I spoke with Jim Eigo, a jazz publicist. Jim was invited to Lieber’s elegant loft in lower Manhattan and Lieber explained how he missed performing, so he got the idea for a Jazz At Noon group. Lieber was the master of ceremonies until he retired a few years ago. Trumpeter Ed Polcer, who had been co-owner of Eddie Condon’s nightclub for about t
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Dr. F. Norman Vickers is a founder of the Jazz Society of Pensacola/Pensacola Jazzfest and a charter member of the Jazz Journalists Association.

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