Say what you will about me, I’ve finally learned to keep up with the incoming e-mail! Except that I occasionally move especially interesting letters to a separate mailbox so that I can either respond to them at length or post them, and sometimes…I forget. Which is why some of you haven’t heard back from me, for which I apologize most humbly. I’ll try to work my way through that box once the book is done.
In the nonce, here are two recent pieces of mail that I especially liked:
– “My Paul Desmond
story: although I had been listening to jazz on the radio and to my father’s big band 78s since childhood, it was hearing Paul Desmond with Brubeck on the old Steve Allen show one night in 1954 or 55 that told me three things: I would love jazz forever, that the alto saxophone was the most beautiful sounding instrument of all, and that Paul Desmond had a tone worth emulating. My very first experience of jazz in person was seeing the Brubeck Quartet when they played a Sunday evening concert at the Glen Island Casino, about one mile from my home when I was 14. The Casino had fallen on hard times–the big band era was definitely over and Elvis was on the horizon–and was attempting to find new formats to get people to visit. So I got in my Sunday-best suit, and trudged to the show. A very big snowstorm had begun, so I was one of only a handful of people in attendance, so I am sure no one made much money, including my very professional waiter, who served me cokes–15% of the price of a 1955 coke was not much to take home, even with the usual nightclub markup. I was dazzled, enthralled, overwhelmed that men could do this. I had wanted to get everyone’s autograph, but was too shy to approach the bandstand. Walking home in the snow past my ankles, I hardly noticed the effort–I was transported. A year later, I committed my first act of semi-adult unfaithfulness–I bought a Shorty Rogers record and transfered my allegiance to Art Pepper. Ah well, they are both up there in the great alto sax section in the sky with Bird, Carter and Hodges.”
– “I read your review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
in the WSJ, and as a result
saw it this afternoon. In the past several years there has been only one
other show where, at intermission, I wanted to call all my friends and tell
them to see it at once (the other was Wonderful Town, last fall). Of course
I couldn’t make the calls today because of the intermission concert, which
was almost as wonderful as the show. Thank you for telling me about it. I came to your blog in order to
thank you, and started reading, and started following links, and now I’ve
ordered Goodbye, Babylon. I hope it’s as wonderful as it sounds.
I’ve always enjoyed your WSJ pieces, and now I’ll keep in touch with your blog.”
Thanks very much to you both. Letters like these are among the very biggest reasons why OGIC and I keep on blogging, come what may.