Thursday, October 6, 2011

Laurence Walken: Renaissance Man of Today!

            He is a "Renaissance Man of Today"...a month or so ago, I had the privilege of making friends with a gentleman who I believe is one of the most entertaining jazz vocalists in the State of Florida.  His name is Laurence Walden, originally from Chicago, but has enjoyed residences in Los Angeles, California, Las Vegas, Nevada and most recently, Jacksonville, Florida.  He is not only a superb jazz vocalist, a songwriter and playwright, but also a self-taught painter, sculptor, jewelry maker and mixed media collage artist.  He has sent several photos of his paintings and jewelry to me, and I’ve got to say, the dude is extremely talented.  He has also shown me photos of wall murals he’s created on several buildings in and around the area of Jacksonville.  For a quick look at Walden performing, check out this link to his website:
Walden’s artwork and jewelry, which you will see on his website have been displayed and sold in private and public art shows around the world, and he has received first place honors in Fine Arts in several juried art shows.  He has also received several awards for his performances in educational, historical and musical stage productions that he wrote and produced.  He earned a Best Actor award for his portrayal of Billy Eckstine in his own work, the musical “Me and Mr. B.”  In addition to the aforementioned awards, Walden has produced and appeared in more than 3,000 performances at Disneyland, Anaheim, California from 1980 to 1983.

            After receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force in 1972, Walden taught African Art and Theater at the University of California, Riverside, California.  While serving eight years in the military service as a Technical Illustrator, he also toured with the Air Force Band, as the featured jazz vocalist.  In 1974 up to 1983, he lived and performed in L.A. California where he was the opening act for Cab Calloway, Della Reese, Marlena Shaw, Jimmy Smith, Willie Bobo, Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson and Isaac Hayes.  And, from 1983 until 1988, Walden lived and performed in Las Vegas with George Kirby, Lena Horne and Billy Eckstine.  Afterwards, Walden returned to his former home in Chicago.  For a period of three years, he performed in New Orleans up until 1099, at which time he relocated to his present home in Jacksonville, Florida.        
            Walden has also written the following stage productions, some of which he hopes to have put to film: “When The School Bells Ring” (A Tribute to Brown vs. the Board of Education’s Decision of 1954), “The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and Nothing But The Tooth” (An oral hygiene educational musical play), “Salute to the Duke” (The history, musical and quotes of Duke Ellington, “Gunjoke” “How the West Was Really Fun”), (A musical comedy spoof on “Gunsmoke”) and “Hitsville USA”, (The Sound of Motown). 

            As you may have guessed, I’m desperately trying to arrange for Walden to visit St. Petersburg, Florida to perform either a regular concert or his recently written “Me and Mr. B”, a singing biography of the great performer Billy Eckstine.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  I believe it’ll be a big hit with jazz audiences if he agrees to perform for my company.
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Remember to “Keep Jazz Alive” by “Supporting Live Jazz!”
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Lorri Hafer & HaferHouse of Jazz - "Keeping Live Jazz Alive"

Greetings Jazz Lovers! 

             I've got some fantastic news about jazz music being presented during the month of September 2011.  Are you familiar with Lorri Hafer, Mike Hafer and Paul Hafer?  Well, if you're not, let me fill you in.  Lorri is a "hip" jazz vocalist who comes at you out of the Great American Song-Book.  Mike is her husband and her pianist.  Mike is cool and can play just about anything.  In all my dealings with him over the last six years, I've never seen him stumped about a piece of music.  Same thing goes for Lorri and Mike's talented son Paul, who knows how to lay out some neat chords for mom and dad. 

            For those of you who have not had the opportunity to hear the HaferHouse Jazz group, you've got an opportunity this month to do so.  The Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, Inc. is presenting the group on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at the Catherine Hickman Theater.  There's lots of free parking, and it's a comfortable venue to hear some great music.  I whole heartedly recommend that you mark your calendar to attend this concert on that date.

               Below I've taken the liberty to write a few phrases about Lorri, who I refer to as my younger sister.  In fact, this BLOG will be a surprise to her, Mike and Paul.  I'm hoping it'll help to fill the house on that very special Sunday.  So please get out and support not only Lorri, but also the Al Downing Jazz group.  Collectively, we've got to keep this music alive. 

               Anyway, here's a little information about my younger sister Lorri.  Hope you enjoy it, and gives you sufficient information that whets your jazz taste buds and steers you to the concert.
               Vocalist Lorri Hafer is a believer in the Great American Popular Songbook.  She shares a timeless wealth of material and presents it with spirit and feeling; her interpretations have a personal and soulful ring.  She delivers her tunes in just the right volume and vigor to reach all listeners. She digs into her warm and melodic lower ranges, mixed with her own jazz smarts, and sings in a no-nonsense manner. She truly makes the tunes breathe.
            Lorri beyond doubt swings on up-tempo tunes and possesses a great choice of ballads. Her vocal interpretation of jazz material and the quality of her presentation gives her performances lots of sass, but yet still bringing out all of its nuances.

             In the last several years, I have attempted to promote Lorri Hafer in concert as often as possible.  With her fan following, each concert has been a successful one. It won’t be long before someone in the record (CD) industry grabs her up and takes her National. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Music In The Key Of My Life" - Stephen Lee, Jazz Pianist

            Needless to say that JAZZ is my kind of music!  I simply love it!  And, for you naysayers out there, Jazz is Alive and Well!  And, my man, Stephen Lee out of Memphis, Tennessee has confirmed that statement with his recent CD “Music in the Key of My Life.”  It’s a real winner. 

Here’s how I came to meet Lee.  About a month ago, I received an email from him, asking for my land mailing address.  He said he wanted it, so he could send a CD to me.  He stated that he was trying to get some play time on the radio and asked if I could possibly help him.  Since, my major stick is to help jazz musicians new on the scene expose their talents to the world, I gave him my address. 

             The CD arrived a few days later and I started listening to it while riding in my automobile.  That was a big mistake.  When the first tune started playing, I almost ran into my garage door.  First of all, it had a strange title “As The Deer” by Martin Nystrom and arranged by Lee.  Well let me tell you, the tune outright swings with an out of sight drum performance by drummer James Sexton.  I instantly liked that first tune and knew I was going to feel the same way about the entire CD.  At first, I thought Lee’s piano playing was suggestive of Ahmad Jamal but only by a slight intimation.  As I listened to the rest of the CD, it was apparent that Lee has his own style; one that I believe is definitely going to catch on, once the public gets a taste of his playing.

            On the second tune “Here I Am”, I again had a problem connecting the title with the playing, but oh my goodness, they certainly “cook” on that selected cut; I guess that’s the way Lee was telling listeners he was present and accounted for.  The tune is definitely a “cooker” and has a fantastic drum solo towards the end of the tune.  It is a Stephen Lee original, definitely one to be proud of.  At that particular time, I listened to one more cut on the CD which was the third cut called “Coming Home” and another one of Lee’s originals.  On this tune, I heard familiar musical tidbits of Bill Evans in Lee’s playing, but not so much that it took away Lee’s originality.  I loved the way the tune slowed things down a bit with a most poignant melody.   Lee’s trio players on these first three tunes are Lee on piano, Doc Samba playing electric bass, and as previously mentioned James Sexton on drums.  Noticeably, the three trio members perform together often because you can essentially hear it in their playing … tight! 

             Every day during the entire week, I listened to Lee’s CD, and each time I listened I fell more and more in love with it.  Lee’s piano performance on the entire CD is superb, splendid, and impressive!  There are a total of eight tunes.  In addition to the three abovementioned tunes there are: “A Message from God”, “God Has Smiled On Me”, “Glorious”, “God’s Vision”, and a beautiful original tune “Breathe On Me” with words written by Latisha Williams and Martine Allard.  Ms. Allard does the vocal on this tune and does an outstanding job, while Melvin Smith performs an exceptional tenor sax solo.  There is a slight change in musical personnel on tunes six to eight.  On these tunes, Melvin Smith plays tenor sax, Styx Bones takes on drum duty, Corcoran Holt plays upright bass, and on keyboards and strings Ian Williams.  

          This CD “Music In The Key of My Life” I unreservedly recommend you purchase.  If you like music, you’ll enjoy it immensely.  If you like jazz…“It’ll blow your mind!”  Check Lee out at:

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Remember to “Keep Jazz Alive” by “Supporting Live Jazz!”
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Monday, August 29, 2011

An Open Letter to Nate Jacobs and West Coast Black Theatre Troupe

To the Founder and Artistic Director of the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) Nate Jacobs, cast members, musicians, and all others who have been involved in the presentation of the many shows I have seen over the past several years. 

Watching WBTT grow to maturity has been an awesome experience that could never be duplicated.  I’m blessed to have been exposed to the cultural arts in such an enjoyable way.  Needless to say how much of an education I received for which one could not place a dollar value.  I lament for those who have never taken advantage of attending a WBTT performance, whether or not they reside nearby to Sarasota or at a very slight distance away like St. Petersburg and Tampa; anyone residing anywhere in the Tampa Bay area should make a point to attend … even if it means getting a group together.  In fact, attending as a group makes the entire occasion into a festive event.

This last Friday, August 19th, I arranged a group to attend the final show for the 2011 summer season, “Dynamic Duets.”   We also were fortunate to have seen the first show “The Soul Crooners” back in July.  Those were two outstanding musical shows that you presented for the summer season…and what a season!  It was while watching “Dynamic Duets” that the realization came upon me that I had attended just about every show for the last six or seven years.

Allow me to share with my readers some of the fantastic shows WBTT have brought to Tampa Bay.  My list won’t necessarily be in the order of presentation, but only as I recall them, starting with “The Motown 60’s Revue”, “The Mills Brothers”, “Jar the Floor”, “Sistas in the Name of Soul”, “Ain’t Misbehavin”, “Marvin Gaye, The Prince of Soul – The Man and His Music”,

“Mahalia, Just As I Am”, and Hi De, Hi De Ho! Cab Calloway.”  And then, I can remember “The Piano Lesson”, Black Nativity”, “All Night Strut”, “The Wiz”, and “One Mo’ Time.”  These were shows held at the Gompertz Theatre long before you moved into your current home.  Oh yea, Nate, neither can I forget August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winner “Fences”, “Woman from the Town”, “Nobody: The Bert Williams Story” or Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies.”

By the way … Nate, your conceived character “Aunt Rudele” blew our minds.  In fact, my daughter flew in from Maryland just to meet your famous and funny aunt.  We’re still laughing about Herbert, Aunt Rudele’s hen-pecked husband, and her famous Rudele’s Fried Chicken.  I also remember WBTT doing “A Soldier’s Play” to commemorate Black History Month – 2008.  That’s when you were performing at the Historic Asolo Theatre.  Haven’t we come a long way?” Oh my, I almost forgot the cast presentation of Zora Neale Hurstons’s “Spunk.”  For your info, I went on to learn more about this extremely talented playwright, essayist, and accomplished anthropologist who also wrote short stories. 

Although I could continue, I do want to comment on some members of the cast who I’ve watched bloom into unique young adults, some leaving for bigger things.  It makes me proud to say “Yes, I know them (almost) personally.”  For instance, 13-year old Chris Eisenberg, a finalist on America’s Got Talent - 2010, Theresa Stanley who appeared in the Broadway cast of “Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple” and went on national tour of Rock of Ages.  And, finally last week I watched as Mikeyy Mendez and Alyssa Moneyse White demonstrated their unique talents.  Mendez exuded total confidence and sang his heart out, while Alyssa who I first noticed when she was a mere 11years of age, seemed to be saying “Move over ladies, I’m back!”  Nate and cast, please don’t misunderstand, I can’t include everyone because of the lack of column space, but trust me, I’m a fan of all of YOU…and love you much! 

Season 2011 – 2012 begins with the World Premiere of “Love Sung In The Key of Aretha” (Dec. 14 – Jan. 16).  Count on me being there!  Tickets can be obtained online at:
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Remember to “Keep Jazz Alive” by “Supporting Live Jazz!”
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Gone Too Soon - But It's All Good and His Melody Lingers On"

         Yesterday, Friday, August 5 at about 6 AM, my girlfriend Yvonne Alsup called me on the telephone and gave me the worst news ever..."I'm sorry to call you with such bad news, but I just heard that your friend Michael Cerrone was involved in a terrible automobile accident and that he passed away early Wednesday morning. I knew you would want to know."  Needless to say how stunned I was.  In my mind, I was asking myself if this was a dream...praying that it was, and that Michael was alive and well.  Unfortunately, it was not a dream; it was reality.  

        On Friday evening, Yvonne and I attended a memorial for Michael at the First Unity Church of St. Petersburg.  It was exactly how Michael would have wanted it ... "A Home-Going Celebration." Several friends and family had beautiful stories to share about their relationship with Michael, and I was tempted to say my piece, but decided to write a blog and to share with as many people as I could.

        So, if you didn't know him, this blog, which is really a review of a Christmas CD he made, will tell you enough about him that you'll understand why he was loved by all those that knew him.  It's always a injustice when you cannot say "Goodbye" to a dear friend when the Lord calls, but that is why we should let our loved ones know how much they mean to us before either of us passes on.  I hope you'll get as much out of this piece as I did while rewriting it.

                                                                     “It’s All Good”

            It was during the day of Christmas Eve while I was standing in front of the kitchen sink cleaning ten pounds of collard greens.  As I’ve done many times before, I had started playing a couple of Christmas CDs to listen to while preparing for the big holiday feast.  I had no idea that by the time I finished rinsing off the greens, I’d be struggling to hold back the tears.  I was filled with the spirit as I listened to a CD sung by Michael Cerone. 

            Last year, you readers may recall that I listed several Christmas CD albums that I recommended you to purchase.  I find myself recommending only one this season.  The title of the CD is “It’s All Good” by Michael Cerone.  It is one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music that I’ve ever listened to.  The songs on the CD are of spiritual comfort and inspiration.  Cerone says on the CD cover “I offer this music, in grateful praise of my loving and beloved God, who is nearer than our own hearts, and from whom, all grace flows, and, to all my sisters and brothers everywhere.  Each song, in its place here, and with its message describes my journey on the path thus far.  The songs tell of the challenges in life, and of the questions I ask in my prayers.”

            A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Cerone at a Theo Valentin and Friends jazz concert promoted by the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, Inc.  Ms. Valentin invited Cerone to sing a couple of tunes.  It was then that I realized that this vocalist had the sound of Sinatra, and the stage presence of Tony Bennett.  At that concert, Cerone sang several jazz songs, and sang them quite well and, I remember that the audience was quite enthusiastic and Cerone well-received.  However, I did not know that Cerone was also a Spiritual and Gospel vocalist.  But, on this Christmas Eve day, I learned that not only is he a Spiritual and Gospel vocalist but also a devout Christian possessing an uncanny skill to compose meaningful tunes.

            As an example of Cerone’s song writing skills, listen to the words of the first song on the CD, “Mary Did You Know”.  A few stanzas of the song go like this, ‘Mary did you know, that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?  Mary did you know, that your Baby Boy would someday save our sons and daughters?  Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?  This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.’  Cerone delivers a song with words so distinct that you can actually understand what he is singing, so unlike a lot of vocalists out there today.  Much of today’s music is hinged with excess – instruments that are so loud, mega effects, huge productions – Michael Cerone does not follow the leader but does his own thing in a way that is humble and, can and does touch everyone that takes time to listen.  Cerone actually demonstrates to his audience that less is more on this his first and only CD.

            The CD begins at a leisurely pace with selected Spirituals and Gospel songs, such as ‘Mary Did You Know’, ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Crying In The Chapel’, ‘I Am Listening’, and several others.  He follows these tunes with a few recognizable and popular upbeat tunes like ‘On A Clear Day’, ‘If I Ruled The World’, and the CD title song ‘It’s All Good’.  I like this later tune, when Cerone sings “Well things can’t make you happy, they just get old; and maybe someone left you flat, people come and go.  The sun is up, shining bright outside, get in your life, go for a ride.  It’s all good, it’s all good, it’s all good, it’s all good.”  As one can immediately see, Cerone isn’t afraid to mix it up.  The CD’s best track is the beautiful ‘There Is No-One in The World Like You’, (and the beauty that you are, this world has never seen before.)  Or, it may be ‘The Promise’, where Cerone sings, “There’s a voice within every one of us that gently leads us on. There’s a voice in every one of us that guides us on our way. There’s a promise given to our very soul that we can never lose or even toss away, it’s that voice we hear between our laughter and our tears from day to day… Be still and know that God is Love, and the truth will set you free.”  

            Something about the vocalist…Michael Cerone hails originally from Harlem, New York and the South Bronx.  As a youngster, he attended the New York High School of Performing Arts, where he acquired a strong foundation for the music that he loves.  He shares stories of visiting on many, many occasions the famous jazz club Birdland, listening to the likes of Sarah Vaughn, Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, and a host of other famous and popular jazz artists.  Cerone as a young adult landed in Hollywood, California and worked in Media Production, sometimes as an Audio Engineer or Production Assistant; he continued to meet many of the heavy hitters in the music industry.  However, it was sometime in the 70’s that Cerone decided to follow a more spiritual path in life.  He had become disenchanted with the social happenings in his life and the lives of his close friends.  One day he found himself asking “Jesus, put me where you want me to be.”  And, the rest is history. 

            On a trip to St. Petersburg to visit his parents, Cerone decided to make the Tampa Bay area his home.  He started his own business in photography, and found himself a church to continue seeking the truth.  Cerone says he is non – denominational, and is at home anyplace where people worship the Lord.  On this CD which is Cerone’s first song album attempt, there are a total of 16 songs; 5 of which he wrote.  Kevin Wilder, keyboardist and well-known jazz artist in Tampa Bay collaborated with Cerone on the tune ‘There’s No-One In The World Like You’.  Handling the musical arrangements was Mark Dye, who worked along-side Cerone for a period of 2 years to complete the musical project.

            There’s an abundance of holiday music available this season, but Cerone’s CD is one that’s worth seeking out.  You can purchase his CD in St. Petersburg at: First Unity Church Bookstore,
469 – 45th Avenue, North
; St. Jude Cathedral,
5th Avenue
and 58th Streets, North; or Unity Christ Church,
6168 First Avenue, North

          Michael Cerrone & Best Friend Kevin Wilder  
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

"BIRDLAND" Jazz Corner of the World (Part II)

“Birdland” - Jazz Corner of the World
Part II

The refusal by my dad to use his automobile didn’t discourage us at all, and we took the bus    (#118) from Newark, New Jersey to the Port Authority, in the heart of the “Apple” and then walked  up from 42nd Street to Birdland.  Now, that was more like it.  That evening, I got my first personal glimpse of the famous “Pee Wee Marquette.  He was standing outside of the Club beckoning to passersby to come-on-in for some great jazz.  I don’t remember who I heard and saw that evening, but I do remember that my friends and I had a great time.  After that evening, I visited Birdland (at that location) at least forty or more times.  Occasionally, I made the scene at Birdland during the day, but mostly at night.  Considering the excitement that Birdland generated on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that it attracted its share of celebrities.  I never saw them, but was told that regulars to the nightly festivities included such household names as Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Joe Louis, Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson.

            In addition to Charlie “Bird” Parker, scores of jazz legends were regulars at the Club.  Count Basie and his smokin’ big band made Birdland their New York headquarters. Eventually, the recording of George Shearing’s “Lullaby of Birdland - Live” was made at the Club.  I’m happy to say that I had the privilege to see and hear Shearing perform at Birdland one summer.   John Coltrane’s classic quartet regularly appeared at Birdland in the early 1960’s, recording “Live at Birdland.”  And, the renowned ‘Symphony Sid” Torin made a name for himself broadcasting live from Birdland to radio listeners all along the Eastern Seaboard.

            In the writings of “Birdland History” you can find that “In its first 5 years of existence, more than 1,400,000 paid the $1.50 admission to make their way either to the right for the Cabaret Section or to the left for the intense listening bullpen to hear Birdland’s attractions and sample its atmosphere.”  The large number of visitors to Birdland is easily understood, when one considers the quality of the musicians who played there.  If one was to post the names out of Birdland’s Booking Ledger, it would read like a “Who’s Who of Jazz”: Charlie Parker Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Erroll Garner, Slide Hampton, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Horace Silver and Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers, including Freddy Hubbard, JJ Johnson, and many, many others.

            There are also many Birdland stories that are told to jazz fans, like the one about Bud Powell inviting a young Jackie McLean on stage one night in 1951, and the rest is history.  Then there’s the infamous story about the famous author Norman Mailer?  It seems that Mailer was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct after he was refused credit for his bill at Birdland.  It’s claimed that he tried to pay his bill with a credit card, although the law prohibits the purchase of liquor on credit.  Not many jazz fans know about the jazz group referred to as the “Birdlanders”.  Some of you might say, “Oh, he’s got to be making this up”.  But, I learned that there was in fact a group of all-star jazz musicians, who united in New York, and recorded several bebop-oriented sessions in 1954.  They were called Birdlanders because they were regulars at Birdland.  Some of the sessions produced by the group at Birdland included J.J. Johnson or Kai Winding on trombone; Al Cohn on tenor sax; Milt Jackson on vibes and piano; Tal Farlow, guitar; Gene Ramey, Percy Heath, or Oscar Pettiford, upright bass; and Max Roach, Charlie Smith, or Denzil Best, drums.  It’s my understanding that those 1954 sessions resulted in three LPs on the Period label.  And, in 2000, were reissued on CD by Fantasy Records for its Original Jazz Classics series: The Birdlanders, Vol. 1 and The Birdlanders, Vol. 2.  I am attempting to track down and purchase both volumes. 

            Stay tuned!  Hopefully, I’ll be successful in tracking down these CDs.
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

"BIRDLAND" - Jazz Corner of the World (Part I)

          This Blog is about a very special jazz venue which has its’ own very special place in jazz history, and it would be difficult to confuse the name with Lakeland, Thailand, Land O’ Lakes or any other familiar place that has as part of its’ name “…land.”  It’s a place that holds precious memories for me and millions of others, who at some time visited New York City to listen to some great jazz. 

            It’s been more than sixty-years that the legendary Birdland Jazz Club opened its doors for business.  December 1949 is the date that will go down in jazz history as being the month and year the famous club began promoting great jazz.  Bebop Master Charlie Parker, whose fans and musician friends lovingly called “Bird,” the short form of his actual nickname “Yardbird,” was how Birdland got its name.  It’s said that “Bird” was the sole inspiration for the Club because of his innovative behavior and outright genius of the alto saxophone.  

            Birdland was originally located in the heart of the jazz center of (The Big Apple) New York City at Broadway and 52nd Street.  Several other jazz clubs were located in and about the vicinity, such as The Royal Roost, but Birdland was the place to be seen and heard. 

From about 1949 through the 1960’s, New York City was known for its jazz clubs,  and many  jazz musicians that we listen to today, got his or her start in any one of them.  I can vaguely remember (at age 15 years), the excitement about Birdland.  My parents, who were jazz aficionados and regulars at the Savoy Ballroom and Royal Roost, seemed to talk to their friends about nothing else… “Birdland this and Birdland that.”  So, it was only natural for me at such a curious age to wonder about this place everyone was talking about.

            As the years went on, I became more involved with “Jazz”.  I started out listening to tenor saxophonist Hal Singer’s “Cornbread” and guitar player Tiny Grimes’ “Bewildered”; then there was the “Hucklebuck.” Not all of the music I was listening to was considered jazz, but it was definitely on the cusp.  It was not too long before, I was knee-deep into “Bebop”, and began to “bite at the bit” to make my first visit to what many also referred to as the “House that Bop built”… Birdland.  Friends of mine, who had ventured into the “Big Apple” for their exposure to this new music, explained to me that in order to be truly “Hip”, I had to travel over to the “Big Apple” and make a set at Birdland.

            It was graduation night in June 1952, when I asked my father if I could borrow his car to take me and some friends from Newark, New Jersey to New York City.  It was a black, shiny 1950 Ford with white wall tires, which my parents had purchased a few months prior.  I can’t help but chuckle now, when I think of it.  He just looked at me as if I had just landed on earth from another planet.  “No Rick, I don’t think you’re ready to drive to New York City”.  And, that was it.  I must have been out of my mind to even have asked him to use the car to go to New York.  I had only gotten my driver’s license the month before and was totally unprepared for what would have faced me on a car trip to New York City.  To mention a few of the obstacles, there was the highway traffic on Highway S-3, the Lincoln Tunnel, New York traffic, including New York cabbies…thanks Dad for the rejection!