Rifftides reader Sam Stephenson writes from North Carolina:
I’m excited to hear this new Gil Coggins record. Thank you for the tip.
I only wish it could have been released before he passed.
In 2002 I interviewed Gil as part of my loft project. He was a veteran of the 6th Ave. loft I’m researching and is recorded on a few of W. Eugene Smith’s tapes circa 1960-61.
I went to hear Gil at his regular gig in the East Village, where he played beautifully the night I heard him, and a few days later we met for the interview. He met me on the sidewalk outside his apartment, also in the East Village, where I think he’d lived for several decades, and he was
dressed impeccably in a suit, vest, and tie, topped off with a fedora.
His gigantic car – I think it was a late 1970’s Cadillac – was parked out front and he needed to move it, so we got in his car and drove around lower Manhattan for more than an hour. We were talking and listening intermittently to Freddy Cole on a cassette he had in the car. Gil wanted to stop at a McDonalds somewhere down below Canal St. and I watched him parallel park his car in a spot where I was sure the car wouldn’t fit. He did it without even turning his head, using only the mirrors. I couldn’t believe it. Then, we drove back to his place and he did it again in a new spot. He was definitely the best parallel parker I’ve ever seen, especially among folks who used only their mirrors to do it.
We talked more and afterward he drove over to Smalls to meet Jimmy Wormworth and some others. I was sick to have another appointment that night and miss that gig. When I listen to this record you write about I’m going to pretend that it was the gig I missed.