I REMEMBER JAZZ: Six Decades Among the Great Jazzmen by Al Rose

I REMEMBER JAZZ: Six Decades Among the Great Jazzmen

Email this review


New Orleans jazz historian Rose, author of the musky and beautiful New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album, sketches his personal memories of several dozen notable and less notable jazzmen whom he knew or supported through concerts, recording sessions, radio, TV, and movie promotions. Most are Southerners, mainly from New Orleans ""l'm talking about genuine, unhyphenated jazz--not modern, not progressive, not fusion. New Wave, blues, or swing. Just jazz. Only jazz is jazz."" Perhaps three-quarters of those he talks about are dead, with alcoholism seemingly their greatest occupational hazard. Among the famed, Rose's tastiest stories are those concerning pianist-composer Eubie Blake, who died just after turning 100. Euphoric Eubie was a great ladies' man, and neither of his marriages diminished his skirt-chasing. He demurred that they chased him and he couldn't resist them (""l been gettin' away with that act for 60 years""). Several of his girls committed suicide over him and two were killed by their husbands. ""'Listen. . .I wasn't foolin' with jail bait. These were grown up women.'"" Among other colorful folk Rose traded drinks with are Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bobby Hackett, arrogant Sidney Bechet, Bunny Berigan, Wild Bill Davison, Jack Teagarden, Bunk Johnson, Earl Hines, Gene Krupa, Al Hirt and Dizzy Gillespie. The lesser knowns were not less loved. Rose himself is modest and warm, and at times hilarious, as when he and clarinetist Pee Wee Russell kept cornetist Bobby Hackett aghast with a deadpan tale about mild-mannered Bunny Berigan being jailed for beating his wife and throwing her down a dumbwaiter shaft. Always alive, sometimes quite moving in its triumphs over the color line.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1987
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press