On her SloaneView blogspot, Carol Sloane posts recollections of her long-running affection for The New Yorker. Describing the time Whitney Balliett interviewed her for a profile in the magazine, she discloses how the great writer prepared his tea. Haven’t you always wondered? And she tells what it was like to be on the confirmation end of The New Yorker’s exhaustive fact-checking process. To read Ms. Sloane’s blog, go here.
Also in the recollection department, the veteran pianist Jack Reilly sent a story about a little-known early appearance in New York of the late bassist Charlie Haden. It is posted as a comment at the end of a recent Riffitdes piece about Haden, but you may have missed it.
Charlie Haden came to NYC in 1959 and played with me at the old Five Spot on East 8th street just off 3rd Avenue. I needed a bass player for the week. I was accompanying Sheila Jordan and had Ronnie Bedford on drums. The black clientele were very upset having a white band playing there and said as much to the owner. He didn’t do anything like firing us but felt pressured, I’m sure. We played three sets a night, one hour each with a 30-minute recess. Quite a long job since I had to get up at 6 AM to travel from Staten Island, where I was living at the time, to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to teach from 9 AM to 3 PM. I traveled by car from my home and crossed the river on the 69th Street Ferry, a short boat ride, just under 20 minutes. This was long before the Verrazano Bridge was finished in 1965.
The owners of the Five Spot club were brothers, Joe and Iggy Termini. At this period in my life I was teaching choral music and music appreciation at a Bensonhurst Junior High school 5 days a week and Iggy’s son was in one of my classes. He knew I was an aspiring jazz pianist so he came up to me after class one day and told me about his father and suggested I contact his Dad for a gig. I did, and booked a week’s work for the trio plus Sheila Jordan on vocals. However, I needed a bass player and Sheila had heard Charlie Haden was coming to the “Apple.” (She knows where every bass player is around the globe!!). He was delighted to play the week, his first week in Manhattan. Needless to say, we had a “cookin’” time. Charlie read all of Sheila’s charts perfectly and soloed magnificently during several trio features. A memorable evening for all.
Later in 1959, Haden appeared again at the Five Spot with the Ornette Coleman Quartet in an engagement that shook up the jazz establishment and made “free jazz” a tributary that would affect the mainstream of the music.
“Ramblin'”: Coleman, alto saxophone; Don Cherry, trumpet; Charlie Haden, bass; Billy Higgins, drums.
56 years later, it doesn’t sound so radical does it? You could make a case that it never was.