Bassist Bob Haggart (1914 -1998) was a remarkable person in many ways. He’s known to most as a string bassist. But he was also a composer and talented artist.
He was guest bassist for the three Pensacola Jazz Parties 1989-1991 and at the 1991 event, trumpeter Yank Lawson also attended. Lawson had been a colleague with him in the Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band and also, they led the World’s Greatest Jazz Band from 1968-1998.
Haggart was best known for two compositions, Big Noise from “Winnetka” and the ballad What’s New?
But I should also mention Haggart’s tune My Inspiration and his co-composition also with drummer Ray Baduc, South Rampart Street Parade.
Bob’s artistic talents can be seen on several record covers. When he’d go to a recording session, during the lag times, he’d sketch scenes from the session. These have been featured on record covers, especially LPs since there was adequate room to show artwork. Haggart also was a painter, like vocalist Tony Bennett. I was told that his art frequently won prizes in art exhibits.
The story I heard about the spontaneous composition by Haggart and Baduc came about when they were entertaining a group from Winnetka. Baduc was a talented New Orleans drummer and the spontaneous bass and drum composition included Haggart whistling through his teeth and Baduc taking part of his solo by beating on the bass strings while Haggart did left handed fingering of bass strings to provide the melody. This tune became so popular that emerging string bassists were almost required to add this piece to the jazz bassist repertoire.
The second composition that requires mention is Haggart’s 1939 ballad, What’s New? with lyrics by Johnny Burke. I was at an Arbors Jazz Party in the ‘90s and Roger Kellaway was playing solo piano on stage. He played a very angular and dissonant arrangement of Haggart’s ballad. I happened to be standing next to Haggart and asked him if he was pained to hear his lovely tune stretched and distorted to this degree. His reply, “No it doesn’t bother me. There was one man who made tape recordings of arrangements of What’s New and sent them to me. It filled up two cassettes. I don’t know why anybody would want to do that.”
Thanks Bob, wherever you are in the hereafter. Thanks for enriching our lives!
Arbors Records has a CD entitled “Piano Giants at Bob Haggart’s 80th Birthday Party.”
Here we are living in a time none of us have ever lived before. This is a first.
Carefully planning a simple task: Should I go to the grocery store? If I do, should I sanitize my groceries, cans, bottles? Should I sanitize my mail? Should I sanitize my sanitizer?
It has become the new normal. It is the daily routine.
Teachers are learning a new way to teach with Zoom, Google Hang and Skype. This is the new normal.
Schools are empty. The new classroom for my wife, me and daughter is a screen with faces of classmates and students.
Musicians are reaching out online to keep the lights on. Some have had to learn about Venmo and PayPal.
This is the new normal.
Friends, we are in this together. We must keep a positive attitude. We must be nice. Most importantly, we need to be safe and smart. Abide. Do the distancing. We will get through to the other side of this. We can always reschedule events, parties, jazz festivals, church gatherings, etc. But we cannot reschedule a life. Once it is canceled, gig over.
This is a great time to do inventory of your music collection. This is a time to do an inventory of yourself. Ourselves. Let’s keep each other healthy and out of harms way. In the big picture, we only have each other.
We need to keep believing and live with hope.
Fred Domulot Jazz Pensacola “Give Peace and Hope a Chance”
Jazz Party With Delfeayo Marsalis and Uptown Jazz Orchestra Troubadour Jazz Records
When this CD arrived for review I thought that, if it were anything like he previously produced CDs, trombonist-bandleader-composer Delfeayo Marsalis would produce another musically challenging and thought provoking recording. He doesn’t disappoint.
As with his previously produced CDs including Southern Gentleman—a duo recording with his pianist father Ellis and Make America Great Again, recorded with his big band we get a sly tongue-in-cheek sociological essay along with an interesting commentary on how the recording was produced. Delfeayo composed and arranged most of the music whereas other band members also made contributions in the composition and arrangements. Delfeayo and his big band perform on most Wednesday nights at Snug Harbor on New Orleans’ Frenchman Street and this recording favorably reflects their work together.
As the name of the recording implies, this is upbeat, contemporary New Orleans party music. Any of this would be appropriate for a “second-line” celebration.
Along the sociological line, D. Marsalis has composed a tune he calls Mboya’s Midnight Cocktail. Liner notes indicate the Mboya is Delfeayeo’s autistic younger brother. There is a one-way conversation in a crowded bar between the cocktail waitress and the mute patron. And, on the last cut on the album, the composition is played again without the speaking part.
If well executed New Orleans party music is on your wish-list, this is a recording for you, but you’ll need to wait for the February release.
The February issue of The Syncopated Times has a number of Jazz Pensacola friends and artists featured.
The lead article is by drummer Hal Smith and features New Orleans pianist John Royen. Vocalist Rebecca Kilgore’s photo heads the Festival Roundup pages. And, finally, a column on early jazz recordings by David Sager, trombonist and jazz historian who works at the Recorded Sound Research Center at the Library of Congress.
Now, for those who may be new to Jazz Pensacola or for some longtime members who may need a memory refresher, I’ll review for you the Pensacola connections.
Hal Smith, drummer and jazz historian, now lives in Searcy, Arkansas, which he says is “central to all parts of the U. S.” He lived in the New Orleans area for about 10 years and connected with the traditional jazz musicians there. He’s also lived in the San Diego area and is still connected with America’s Finest City Jazz Society and returns yearly for their Thanksgiving weekend jazz festival. Hal has played two of our Pensacola JazzFests. One year, he brought Portland, Oregon, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore and on a subsequent visit he brought West Coast jazz pianist Carl Sonny Leyland. One year, he and a New Orleans group was scheduled but on highway I-10 at Pascagoula he was stopped by traffic tie-up and motorist behind him crashed into his car and banged up (bad pun) his drum kit and Hal’s shoulder. His New Orleans group performed with guitarist providing the rhythm instead of Hal on drums. Most recently, two years ago for our Foo Foo Fest event, he organized a group performing the music of trombonist Kid Ory. Hal is a regular performer at many jazz festivals, jazz house parties around the country. His YouTube videos are numerous including ones from his Pensacola appearance with his On The Levee Jazz Band.
Jazz pianist John Royen is featured on front page of The Syncopated Times (TST) and there is a listing of his recordings elsewhere in the paper. He recounts to Hal Smith, in Hal’s role as writer/historian, his early experience with jazz through his father’s influence by attending live performances as well as perusing his father’s extensive jazz collection. The Pensacola connection was a piano extravaganza performance about 4 years ago at UWF Music Hall. Royen, along with Lynn Arriale and our own Bobby Van Deusen gave a wonderful concert to enthralled audience. Our own Crystal Joy Albert was in the role of impresario for that event.
Rebecca (Becky) Kilgore is a regular at jazz parties and jazz cruises. She’s both a singer and guitarist who has regular gigs in the Portland, Oregon, area when she’s not traveling. As mentioned earlier, she appeared at our 1999 Pensacola JazzFest, the first year that Jazz Pensacola was sole sponsor of JazzFest. (For newcomers, the first six years were sponsored by Pensacola Arts Council; the next 10 years were successfully sponsored by WUWF Radio with our jazz society again in a support role.
Finally, David Sager’s article about early jazz recording leads me to mention that David, in his role as trombonist, brought a group of New Orleans musicians for our November Foo Foo Fest event about three years ago. The evening before, he led a discussion about early jazz recording at the downtown West Florida Public Library, and backed by some of our own Jazz Society musicians, he performed as well.
So, this month’s TST is loaded with material which relates directly to Pensacola. In addition, there is a long article about Paul Whiteman and his orchestra in the 1920s and 1930s. Whiteman hired many jazz musicians to perform with his enlarged orchestra. These included Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Jack Teagarden and Bunny Berrigan. Bing Crosby got a boost in his career by performing with Whiteman.
The Pensacola connection to this story relates to our Jazz Room at the downtown West Florida Public Library. There is a two-volume work on Whiteman’s career by Don Rayno and also DVD of the 1930s movie called King of Jazz. This DVD is of interest because it was produced in early Technicolor and has some early cartoons where Whiteman reacts with a cartoon character. There is also a book, with color illustrations, about how that movie was produced.
On a personal note, I have been a reviewer of jazz CDs and books since before the name and ownership change from The American Rag to The Syncopated Times in 2016.
And speaking of the library jazz room, there are subscriptions to Downbeat, JazzTimes and TST for your information and reading pleasure. There are books, CDs and DVDs as well as play-along books and recordings currently valued at $20,000 for library members to check out.