From time to time I’ll be posting parts of letters I wrote to Jack Brownlow over a period of twenty-five years or so. To my surprise, after his death a collection of them showed up among his effects. I had forgotten much of what I wrote him in our correspondence. This excerpt from New Orleans was on a WDSU-TV memo form :
August 13, 1980
I was walking through Jackson Square at the noon hour today and heard someone playing vibes. I wandered over in front of St. Louis Cathedral to see what was happening. There on a platform were (so help me) Milt Jackson, Monte Alexander, Lou Donaldson, Bob Cranshaw and Grady Tate. I had thought it was Milt when I heard the music from afar but figured that some French Quarter jugglers were playing a record to perform by. You could have knocked me over.
It turns out that Michelob is sponsoring a ten-city tour of free Jazzmobile concerts. Tomorrow night they play in Armstrong Park. Monte Alexander was playing his buns off.* I thought Lou Donaldson was dead. He sounded great. So it was old home week. I knew all of these guys except Donaldson in New York, and they were as surprised as I was. Sad thing; it got no advance publicity, so there were just a few tourists standing around in the hot sun trying to figure out what was going on.
The Jazzmobile organization is still going strong. So are Alexander, Donaldson, Cranshaw and Tate. Milt Jackson died in 1999.
* A critical term I have since abandoned.