Tuesday, September 28, 2004

This And That

I think I've finally managed to attract some mockingbirds to my yard. For nearly a month I've been hanging fruit (apples, oranges, etc.) from a tree in my yard. Last night I saw two large, white and black birds checking it out in the late afternoon. The days continue to shorten. The Saint James Art Fair is this weekend and next week is the New Albany Octoberfest usually a harbinger of rainy, dark, cool days. Mark and Patty called late last  night from Cincinnati. They were stuck there at the airport trying to get to New York. They couldn't land in Atlanta as planned because of the latest hurricane. They will be back this weekend for a couple of days so, we plan to attend the St. James Fair together.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Jet Set

The last three days have passed rather swiftly. Mark and Patty were married in the gazebo at Cherokee Triangle. Yardhog carried Patty's ring securely in his pocket despite Dottie Reese's worry that he might have a hole in his pocket. D performed her functions as "Maid of Honor" perfectly as usual. Ron Whitehead and Sarah Elizabeth, plus Mark's sisters there spouses and several attended. Afterwards, the wedding party was treated to a meal in the Pee Wee Reese Room at the Audubon Country Club. David Amram played piano and Sarah Elizabeth sang a couple of songs. Saturday morning Patty, Mark, David Amram and D and I had brunch at Lynn's Paradise Cafe. Then everyone came to our house and studio until Mark and Patty had to leave to take David back to the airport in time to catch his flight.
     David Amram is a living relic. In the hours we were together he talked of his experiences with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Jack Kerouac. Yesterday was spent mainly recovering from the excitement of the previous two days. The weather was totally gorgeous. I finally was able to ride my bike for about ten miles. Mark and Patty are leaving for New York today or tomorrow but will be back for a brief stay next week before going back to L.A.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Wedding Bells

Mark Reese and Patty Brand are to be married today in the Gazebo at 14OO Willow. They picked David Aram up at the airport last night but I haven't heard anything since. David will be giving the bride away. Yardhog will be "best man." Immediately afterwards there will be a reception at the Pee Wee Reese Room at the Audubon Country Club. It should be a wonderful evening.
     A bizarre mistake in the entertainment section of today's Courier. Gordon Brisker, who died two weeks ago, is listed as playing with the Dick Sisto trio tonight at the Seelbach. Maybe they are having a seance.
     My class at KSR last night went beautifully. The prisoners read their papers on the first two chapters of Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg Ohio." And there was passion in their prose. It's amazing to hear their reactions to Anderson's classic stories.
     KSR looks like the "land of broken convicts." Going through the security check yesterday I had to wait while two prisoners in wheel chairs were processed. One held his artificial limb in his lap while a guard removed his hand-cuffs and chains. There must be some mindless bureaucratic rule that all prisoners, even the disabled must be handcuffed. Out in the yard men limped past me on crutches and walkers. One man in a wheel chair asked me what I taught. When I told him he said," My wife has a Masters Degree in literature from the University of Kentucky." A strange sad world.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


This in my email today:


A prosperous future, increased earning power, more money and the respect of all is within your reach!
No required tests! No classes! No books!
Get a Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate (PHD.)
All the benefits of a university graduate can be yours.
No one is turned down.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A Marvelous Night For A Moon Dance

A marvelous evening outside on the deck last night with Mark and Patty (soon to be Reese.) The late summer night sounds reminded Mark of his childhood in Kentucky. He says in L.A. they only have "one sick cricket." D prepared a wonderful pork roast and we consumed two large bottles of wine before entering into some insane polemics. The wedding should be wonderful.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Fenced In

Mark Reese and Patty flew into town yesterday on the early morning "redeye" flight. They'll be here all week for their marriage on Friday. Yardhog will be best man, D is maid of honor and the great David Aram will be giving away the bride.
     All this comes at a opportune time for he Hog since he was quickly falling into the abyss. Black twirlies were gathering around him.
     So far, the prison classes are not having the same effect as last year, although I may need to give it some time. Walking in the yard last night I noticed the numerous "warning signs" everywhere I looked. "Restricted Area," "No Communication with Prisoners in This Cell Block," "Failure to Comply Will Result in Disciplinary Report." No wonder these guys don't like to read.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Addendum - Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Regarding the Pee Reese story this morning. I sent it to Mark Reese in an email and he replied:

     "That was the last time my father ever went to a movie. I took him.
And he loved it. In fact, we were both teary eyed because we were thinking about our respective fathers and playing toss with them after they had left this earth. Ain't that something."

    On another sad note, Gordon Brisker, the great tenor saxophonist and flutist died Sunday night in his sleep in Cincinnati of pancreatic cancer.
I emailed him on Friday a note that said:

Gordon: I thought I'd drop you a line. I'd like you to know I think of you often. I don't know if you remember but I was with you at the Seelbach last spring when you told Dick Sisto about your illness. I'll never forget it. When ever anyone talks about illness, death or dying it's easy to fall into cliches and bullshit. So, I instead would like to give you a moment of deferential silence. Call it a prayer if you wish.
     I just got back from the Chicago Jazz Festival. Last friday they had a birthday tribute to Count Basie in Petrillo Shell. He would have been 100. On stage were a number of Basie alumni including Clark Terry in a wheelchair, Frank Wess, Benny Powell, Sid Catlett, Harold Jones and Buddy Defranco recreating the Kansas City 7. Then Frank Foster came out on a walker, he was felled by a stroke a few years ago, and made some announcements. My wife Deborah called it "geriactic" jazz. I called it sad. All my old heros going down the drain.
     Gordon, I've always been in awe of musicians and singers like you and Gail. Artists who have the kind of talent they can't teach in schools no matter how many Jamey Aebersold records they listen to. You have a wonderful gift that you've shared with people lucky enough to recognize your talents, although they may be small in number.
     I wish you could have been here to accompany Gail for Sunday's concert. Your club date together in Cincinnati at the Blue Wisp was the best I've ever heard her. Much love and thank you for being my friend. Danny

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

A huge hurricane is bearing down on New Orleans and the Gulf as I write this. Our weather is moderate as it has been all summer. The Showcase Cinema Complex on Bardstown Road closed yesterday. An article in the Courier this morning quoted one man who remembered viewing the baseball drama "Field of Dreams" and upon leaving the theater spied an older man wiping away tears. What made the event memorable was that man was Pee Wee Reese. Mark Reese and Patty will be in Louisville in the next few days to be married in Cherokee Park. D is making all the arrangements. I  hope the hurricane doesn't arrive before they do.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Not So Wild Weekend

Jazz singer Gail Wynters gave a wonderful "caberet" concert last night at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Backed by pianist Harry Pickins, bassist Tyrone Wheeler and drummer Colby Inzer, Gail sang her heart out as usual. It was a family affair. At one point she was joined by two of her sisters and later her son Trip, a percussionist.
     Despite absolutely no press coverage, the concert was well attended. Probably due to fact that it was part of a music series at the center that is pre-booked. Outside of that interlude the weekend, although beautiful weather wise, was uneventful. It's always like this after my late summer Chicago trip. While bike riding yesterday I had a flat tire in front of Mayor Jerry Ambramson's house. I don't know if there is any hidden meaning in that or not. As the light wanes the Hog deflates just like his back tire. At the concert last night I shared a table with Maggie Reily, a local actress who was in one of Mark Reese's Inonesco plays 10 or more years ago. Reily is 80 years old and quite a wonder. Youthful and alive.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Chicago Serenade

Ruminating on the Chicago Fest yesterday. It's a end of summer tradition and therefore sort of sad. I couldn't remember if I had gone last year until I looked in my journal last night. And sure enough I was there. D and I went in early on Thursday last year and caught Ira Sullivan at the JazzShowcase on Thursday.
     But back to the present. Friday night we saw a birthday tribute to Count Basie ( it would be his 100th) in Petrillo Shell.  They assembled a group of Basie Alumni for a re-creation of his small band the Kansas City 7. They came out on stage in wheel chairs and walkers and did a fine job of bringing back the Count's spirit to Grant Park. The great  Clark Terry, who I remember as a young, flashy dressed trumpeter playing in concert on Guithre Green in Louisville in 1966 with an orchestra made-up of Louisville's finest including drummer John Roy and saxophonist Bobby Jones, looked very old and frail parked in a wheel chair on the far side of the stage.
     Tenor saxophonist, flutist Frank Wess was also in the group plus clarinetist Buddy Defranco, who never seems to change except his black pombadour is now white instead of black.
     Other members of the group included trombonist Benny Powell and bassist Sid Catlett.
And drummer Harold Jones, who I remember seeing with Basie in 1969.
     Then the great saxophonist and arranger Frank Foster, who was sidelined by a stroke a few years ago, limped on-to the stage and announced a few of the numbers.
     D called it geriactic jazz. I call it sad. All my old heros going down the drain.
     Sunday morning I went to the Jazzmart's annual free jazz brunch. Free Chicago jazz saxophonists Fred Anderson (owner of the Velvet Lounge) blew the roof down. Free, frenetic jazz the first thing Sunday morning. Only in Chicago.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Convention Blues

In Lexington all week at a "convention." A perfect way to waste an entire week. BORING! So boring I was praying for a tidal wave or a hurricane to hit the hotel. But no such luck in Kentucky. The light is failing. We just turned the corner of September but the cool, cloudy weather is saying Fall is just around the corner. I slept walked through last week's Chicago trip. I've been trying to remember just what I did. But it's all sort of a blur. Got into the city early Friday morning. Went to the Jazzmart and bookstore and had lunch at the Thai restaurant next door. Then walked down to hear the early afternoon Jazzfest sessions in Grant Park at Jackson Square. Alto saxophonist, flutist Jerry Dogion was on stage when I got there. An old bebop pro who has played with all the old masters. But his set was rather tepid. Next up a local group modeled on the old Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan piano-less Quartet with another attractive female musician. This time playing the unwieldy, strictly unfeminine baritone sax but doing a great job.
    Wasted most of the day time Saturday drinking Margaritas at Sui Casa and then passing out for a couple of hours before leaving for Petrillo Shell with D for the night time concert.
(To be continued.)

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Going To Chicago

Off to Chi-town in the morning for another Jazz Fest in Grant Park. D and I have been making the trip every year since 87, except for a couple of years when either the weather or circumstances (a political convention one year)prevented. We usually have a good time and it's a good end-of-summer marker. In 1981, the first year we attended, so many of the greats were still alive and kicking. Count Basie's Band was featured with Joe Williams, who was subbing for Helen Humes, who died that year. Also the great Dexter Gordon was the featured act at the Jazz Showcase and admission was free, or reduced for those staying at the Blackstone. So many of the greats gone now that were featured in Grant Park over the years. As Ben Webster said so many years ago, "We're all dropping like flies."