Have I mentioned that Dave Frishberg has a web site? He has. I am putting a link to it high on the Other Places list in the center column. The site has a discography, lots of photographs and a catalog of the songs he’s written, from “Wallflower Lonely, Cornflower Blue” (1963) to “Who Do You Think You Are, Jack Dempsey?” (2004). It also has a Written Word section that includes a page called Colleagues And Characters, who include the unlikely–George Maharis, Scatman Crouthers, Malcolm X, Ava Gardner–and the likely, Carmen McRae, Benny Goodman, Kenny Davern, Ben Webster.
Ben was very emotional and his feelings were close to the surface. I knew that Ben was famous for unpredictable outbursts of anger and violence, but I never saw him pull any of those stunts,
perhaps because he was trying to abstain from hard liquor at that time. He did drink beer–Rheingold. When he drank he was quick to weep. He would ask Richard (Davis) to play solos with the bow, and then he would stand listening with tears rolling down his cheeks. He would get tearful when he spoke of his mother. Once he told me that he missed Jimmy Rowles, who was back in California, and as he told me about his friendship with Rowles he began to cry. One night at the Half Note we heard radio reports of rioting in Harlem, and Ben wept openly as he listened.
To reach Colleagues and Characters, click here, but take my advice: if you have an appointment soon or were thinking of getting some Z’s, wait a while. Frishberg is hard to put down.