Remembering Laurindo Almeida, a musical giant

September 2, 1917, was the birthdate of jazz and classical guitarist Laurindo Almeida. So, on the occasion of his birth, it is appropriate to share some wonderful personal recollections. As a jazz fan and amateur guitarist, I was familiar with some of Laurindo’s recordings on Capitol and Concord Jazz.

Laurindo Almeida with Harvey Etheridge at the Pensacola JazzFest, 1985. Photo by Norman Vickers

The first Pensacola JazzFest was held in spring of 1983 and was held under the auspices of the Pensacola Arts Council with radio station WUWF-FM and newly formed Jazz Society of Pensacola. Our only out-of- town jazz artist was guitarist Chuck Wayne, who was playing his last year with pianist/ composer George Shearing’s Quintet. The rest of the performers were local professional and amateur jazz musicians and local high school and college jazz bands.

Laurindo Almeida. Photo by Norman Vickers

For the second year, the Arts Council Committee elected to bring Chuck Wayne back and to invite harmonica/guitarist Jean “Toots” Thielemans and classical/jazz guitarist Laurindo Almeida. I was designated the contact person for both Thielemans and Almeida. The committee was working on a tight budget so our artist budget was necessarily small. I called Thielemans and Almeida, introduced myself and asked if they’d be interested in coming to our young festival for the relatively small fee which we were able to offer. Both answered in the affirmative. It was a wonderful festival. When Wayne or Toots was the leader, he’d invite the other one as a guest and the fact that Toots was also a chromatic harmonica player, it didn’t seem that we had too many guitarists. Laurindo played from charts, usually with a drummer and bassist, so we used our local artists, drummer Jim Servies and string bassist Harvey Etheridge, as Almeida’s back-up musicians.

Laurindo and I became friends and over the years he returned to Pensacola three more times to perform for the Jazz Society and, during those visits, performed at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church for two special concerts. I visited in his home a couple of times in Northridge overlooking the San Fernando Valley. My last visit to his home was Labor Day weekend 1994. His home had been damaged by the previous earthquake and, because he had foresight to have appropriate insurance, he was living in another home while his was under repair. The earthquake had damaged his five Grammy awards and he’d just gotten replacements from the academy — much larger and elegant than the original awards. I encouraged him to take one out of the case so we could photograph him with it.

Laurindo Almeida. Photo by Norman Vickers

Laurindo performed music behind the opening scene in Clint Eastwood’s western movie, “Unforgiven.” The reviews of the movie were mixed in that there was considerable violence. However, because Laurindo told me that he’d done the long guitar theme, I attended the movie. That opening pastoral scene was lovely — horses, blooming meadow in a Canadian spring and the classical guitar piece was appropriately beautiful. However, in watching the movie credits, Laurindo’s name didn’t appear. I later mentioned it to Laurindo and he replied: “Yes, Eastwood requested that I play for that scene, walked through while I was recording and gave me a ‘thumbs up,’ and then sent me a BIG check!”

He succumbed to a malignancy July 26, 1995, at age 77 but he was teaching, recording and performing until a week before his death. Laurindo’s archives are at the U. S. Library of Congress. He had composed more than 1,000 separate pieces including 200 popular songs. His legacy lives on in recordings and music books. Any piece he recorded, he published the score for sale. There are also multiple YouTube offerings that I encourage you to sample.

CD Review: ‘Nothin’ But Love,’ Kathy Lyon

Pensacola jazz activist and vocalist has just recorded a CD entitled “Nothin’ But Love — featuring Houston Person.” This was recorded in April 2019 in studios in Teaneck, N.J.

Kathy tells us that tenor saxophonist Houston Person was helpful in getting this project to completion. Her other artists include pianist Lafayette Harris, Jr., guitarist Peter Hand, bassist Matthew Parrish and drummer Vince Ector.

Kathy is featured on all 12 numbers but all the musicians all have their opportunity in the musical spotlights. Veteran saxophonist Person, of course, is strongly featured. All the tunes likely will be familiar to even the casual jazz listener. Kathy’s vocalizing will be familiar to Pensacola jazz fans, of course. But for those who are not, she delivers the vocals in a precise, delicate and melodic way. Some of the selections: I Remember You; Come Rain or Come Shine; Good Morning Heartache and Everything Happens to Me.

Kathy will be a featured performer at the Roswell, N.M., Jazz Festival Thursday-Sunday Nov. 17-20. And I understand that she is to be a featured performer on a Jazz Cruise later in the year.

For Kathy’s local schedule, see her website KathyLyonMusic.com. There, one may sign up for notification for her upcoming engagements. Kathy appears locally approximately monthly at the Seville Quarter Sunday brunch. To purchase a CD, contact Kathy through her website or directly at her gigs. This CD soon will be available for check-out at the Jazz Room in downtown West Florida Public Library. A previous CD of Kathy’s, “Here’s to Life,” already is in the collection.

Drum Roll, Please: You Can’t Please Everyone, Even Jazz Fans

Sometimes the fight just ain’t there.

Ever had a moment when everything you did was wrong? The feeling you had as a 10-year-old when getting the word you were not 100 percent in the school spelling bee…the first time you fell off the bike, post training wheels…the time you opened your lunchbox and realized you got your brother’s or sister’s awful food…the moment you realized the teachers just forgot (not intentionally) your ribbon of achievement.

They say that you can’t please everybody. Correct.

The same goes for jazz.

Dixieland is not everyone’s cup of tea. Smooth jazz is not for everyone..bebop…not for everyone…Latin jazz…not for everyone….fusion…forget that one. Fusion often causes the comment: ”That’s not our kind of music, too loud, you can’t dance to it!”

Truth is, music is music. I tell students to hear and find the music in every style. Imagine being a 10-year-old going to a buffet for the first time. You see all of this food. You taste it. Some stuff you like, love, adore…can’t get enough of it. Other stuff? Well, you tasted it, and in the future you skip over it. But at least you know what it tastes like.
Music can be like that. Just eat off of the menu. Save room for desert!
So friends, we hope you have enjoyed the smorgasbord of “jazz” that Jazz Pensacola has offered!

Try not to fight it. Sometimes, the fight just ain’t there.

Peace

Fred Domulot
President
Jazz Pensacola

CD Review: ‘Keep Talkin’,’ Yoko Miwa Trio

YOKO MIWA TRIO
KEEP TALKIN’
Ocean Blue Tear Music—www.yokomiwa.com

This is the eighth album Ms. Miwa has recorded as leader. It is in standard piano trio format with Yoko on piano, and husband drummer Scott Goulding and bassist Will Slater on all tracks except Brad Barrett on final track. It is a lovely mix of 11 tunes, more than one hour of delightful music—with about half original tunes and the rest by Monk, Mingus, Lennon & McCartney, Marcelo Camelo and Joni Mitchell.

At least some readers will be, like me, unfamiliar with Ms. Miwa’s background; perhaps a brief biographical sketch is in order. She was born in Kobe, Japan and was classically trained on piano. Her interest in jazz was initiated when she studied with Minoru Ozone, late keyboardist, educator-club owner and father of pianist Makoto Ozone. She subsequently enrolled in Koyo Conservatory of Music, a Berklee affiliate school. She later auditioned for a scholarship to Berklee. To her surprise, she won it! On moving to Boston, she met and married her classmate, drummer Scott Goulding.

The tunes selected are varied in tempo and quality but are always listenable. It is apparent that this group has worked together harmoniously for some time as each performer contributes to the quality of the whole.

One mild drawback, from this reviewer’s viewpoint, is the lack of extensive liner notes. This, I believe, would enhance the appreciation for this excellent CD. There are, however, good examples of her work on YouTube and a bio on the internet. It is recommended that the reader sample some of Ms. Miwa’s work on the internet.

Song list:
Keep Talkin’–Yoko Miwa
In Walked Bud—Thelonious Monk
Secret Rendezvous—Yoko Miwa
Sunset Lane—Yoko Miwa
Boogie Stop Shuffle—Charles Mingus
Golden Slumbers/ You Never Give Me Your Money—John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Tone Portrait—Yoko Miwa
Casa Pre-Fabricada—Marcelo Camelo
Conversation—Joni Mitchell
If You’re Blue—Yoko Miwa
Sunshine Follows the Rain—Yoko Miwa

Pensacola residents will find this recording at the Jazz Room of the downtown West Florida Public Library.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Cab Calloway’s Harlem Slang

Swing? Dance? What?

Big Bad Voodo Daddy!

That’s right, friends. Jazz Pensacola is bringing this awesome high-energy swing band to you for Foo Foo Festival 2019 at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, at Vinyl Music Hall, 2 Palafox Place.

All tickets are $25. This is our fundraiser for the 2020 Pensacola JazzFest.

That means there will be swing band lingo for sure! So, here are some words from A to C from A Hepster’s Dictionary: The New Cab Calloway’s Cat-ologue Revised 1939 Edition for those needing a refresher. You can find more definitions and info at http://www.just-the-swing.com/articles/hepsters-dictionary-of-jive or http://www.cabcalloway.com.

A

ain’t coming on that tab (v)
won’t accept the proposition. Usually abbr. to “I ain’t coming.”

apple (n)
the big town, the main stem, Harlem.

armstrongs (n)
musical notes in the upper register, high trumpet notes.

B

back (adv)
the ultra or peak. Ex. “She sang that song back”, “He danced back.”

barbecue (n)
the girl friend, a beauty.

barrelhouse (adj)
free and easy.

battle (n)
a very homely girl, a crone.

beat
(1) (adj) tired, exhausted. Ex. “You look beat” or “I feel beat”. (2) lacking anything. Ex. “I am beat for my cash”, “I am beat to my socks” (lacking everything).

beat it out (v)
play it hot, emphasize the rhythm.

beatup (n)
small change. Ex. “Can you lend me a little beatup?”

beat up the chops (or the gums) (v)
to talk, converse, be loquacious.

beef (v)
to say, to state. Ex. “He beefed to me that, etc.”

bible (n)
the gospel truth. Ex. “It’s the bible!”

black (n)
night.

black and tan (n)
dark and light colored folks. Not colored and white folks as erroneously assumed.

blues and grays (n)
colored and white folks.

blip (n)
something very good. Ex. “That’s a blip”, “She’s a blip”.

blow the top (v)
to be overcome with emotion (delight). Ex. “You’ll blow your top when you hear this one”.

boogie-woogie
(1) harmony with accented bass. (2) a new dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1938.

break it up (v)
to win applause, to stop the show.

bree (n)
girl.

bright (n)
day.

bring down
(1) (n) something depressing. Ex. “That’s a bring down”. (2) (v) Ex. “That brings me down”.

buddy ghee (n)
fellow.

bush (n)
weed, reefers, marijuana.

bust your conk (v)
apply yourself diligently, break your neck.

C

canary (n)
girl vocalist.

cat (n)
musician in swing band.

chick (n)
girl.

clambake (n)
ad lib session, every man for himself, a jam session not in the groove.

collar (v)
to get, to obtain, to comprehend. Ex. “I gotta collar me some food”, “Do you collar this jive?”

come again
try it over, do better than you are doing, I don’t understand you.

comes on like gang busters (or like test pilot) (v)
playing, singing, or dancing in a terrific manner, par-excellence in any department. Sometimes abbr. to “That singer really comes on!”

cooling (v)
laying off between engagements, not working.

cop (v)
to get, to obtain (see collar and knock).

corny (adj)
old fashioned, stale.

crept out like the shadow (v)
“comes on”, but in smooth, suave, sophisticated manner.

cubby (n)
room, flat, home.

cups (n)
sleep. Ex. “I gotta catch some cups”.

cut (v)
to outclass, be superior to. Ex. “That trumpet player cuts them all!”

cut out (v)
to leave, to depart. Ex. “It’s time to cut out”, “I cut out from the joint in the early bright”.

cut rate (n)
a low, cheap person. Ex. “Don’t play me cut rate, Jack!”

Book Review: ‘Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond,’ Doug Ramsey

Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond
By Doug Ramsey with foreword by Dave and Iola Brubeck
Parkside Publications, Inc. Seattle

There was a sign in our hospital medical library which read: “Any book is new until you’ve read it.”

Certainly this can also apply to Doug Ramsey’s elegant biography of saxophonist Paul Desmond (11-25-1924 to May 30, 1977). The book has been out of print for several years and I obtained my copy through interlibrary loan. It is an oversized book, clothbound at 10” x 11”. The paper is high-quality and the photographic illustrations, some two pages, are equally elegant.

Ramsey and Desmond were friends for a long period. After Desmond died, the editor of Parkside Publications sought out Ramsey and persuaded him to write the book. Ramsey has a musical background and was a writer, so it was a fortuitous fit.

The book details how Desmond was only child whose father was a musician-composer in the San Francisco area. His mother had some psychological issues such that Paul was sent off to live with relatives from elementary school age until his late teens. His father suggested that he switch from violin to clarinet. Then it was a logical move to alto saxophone.

Of course, the author goes into detail about Desmond’s long association with Dave Brubeck and family. Most readers likely are familiar with that musical combination and recordings.

Lesser known, however, are the personal traits of Desmond. Whereas, Brubeck was a dedicated family man, Desmond was a very private person. There was an early marriage for Desmond but for various reasons, it didn’t work out. There were no children by that marriage and long thereafter Desmond was the man-about-town with multiple romances, some serious and some extremely casual. In this area, Desmond was a private person. For example, many of his acquaintances never knew that he’d been previously married.

Desmond made the move from the San Francisco area to New York where he spent his remaining years. He enjoyed his friendships with both musicians and writers, sometimes telling casual acquaintances that he was a writer. And, in fact, he was a prolific correspondent, carrying his Olivetti portable typewriter with him even on his foreign trips. There are several photos of Desmond in Europe carrying the portable typewriter case.

There was a period of time when Desmond left Brubeck and performed with small groups. Interestingly, usually these were with guitarists—notably Jim Hall and Canadian Ed Bickert.

Desmond was a heavy smoker, several packs a day, as well as a drinker who could play well while “in his cups.” Lung cancer accounted for his decline and death at age 52.

Although this book is out of print, there are occasionally copies available in the used book ads, some priced at $100 or more. I read that the electronic version is available for around $15.

Thanks to Parkside Publications and author Dave Ramsey for this “labor of love.”