Joy Adams and I will shortly be concluding our five-month stay in Naples, FL, to return to our home in Philadelphia. Joy was originally set to have a hip replacement operation in Philadelphia in March, but all involved believed that having the procedure done in Florida would be a great help to her recuperation, due to the climate, etc. She is recovering very, very well and by and large, our time down here has been glorious. We are performing at least twice a week, and I am now writing a biweekly jazz column for the Naples Sun Times newspaper. As I write this, I’ve just been asked by their Assistant Editor to help assemble a comprehensive guide to entertainment in Naples, FL. Opportunities like this, for reasons I cannot figure, just don’t exist for me in Philadelphia. It would seem likely that, over the next few years, we will be spending more and more time here.
We’ve sadly lost a number of great, great jazz and entertainment people of late, including Tom Poston, Tommy Newsome, Bobby Rosengarden, Tony Scott, Andrew White and a very talented, Philadelphia-area jazz and blues singer named Zan Gardner. On the positive end, Ornette Coleman won the Pulitzer Prize in music. Who would have believed that in 1959?
Negotiations with Alfred Publishing for a “Great American Drum Catalogs” book have broken down for the moment, though we were “this close” to a deal, due to concerns they have over expense. Good friend and master drummer Steve Smith was kind enough to write an intro for the work, which we will reprint here in the future. We are also considering making vintage catalog reprints available on JazzLegends.com. What’s your take on this? Regarding an actual book down the road, I will continue to maintain my credo of, “It Ain’t Over Yet.”
Speaking of Steve Smith, I believe that he is the finest drummer working today. He has a new CD out with his great fusion band, Vital Information, entitled “Vitalization.” Like everything Professor Smith does, it’s fabulous. You can order online at HudsonMusic.com or VitalInformation.com Steve was one of the last, “name” acts at Philadelphia’s venerable jazz club, Zanzibar Blue, within the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Contrary to reports, Zanzibar will continue to exist, though in a different location.
After months of discussions, it will soon be official. There will be an “officially sanctioned” Gene Krupa model drum stick, manufactured by Chris Bennett’s Bopworks company out of Austin, Texas. Bopworks has deservedly garnered some nice press about their fine product of late. Visit Bopworks at www.Bopworks.net for info about when the Krupa stick is released as well as a great, Mel Lewis model. We will also make the sticks available on JazzLegends.com
Many of you are aware of the noted lyricist and author Gene Lees. Lees has long published a subscription-only newsletter called, and this is the full name, Gene Lees Ad Libitum & Jazzletter. Most know it as the Jazzletter. Published for 24 years, Lees contributes a number of pieces, but has always had guest writers though the years. One of Lees’ favorite people, players and writers was Bobby Scott. Scott, who passed away in 1988, was in the Gene Krupa Jazz Quartet in 1954. Bobby, a good friend of mine, actually posthumously contributed the intro to my new Krupa book. Bobby had given me an unpublished manuscript of his autobiography and asked me to help get him a publishing deal. Sadly, I couldn’t, but at least part of it, the part about Gene, was published as my books’ introduction. Scott was complex and most interesting person, perhaps the most intelligent human being I ever knew. Gene Lees encouraged Bobby Scott’s writing ability, and one of Scott’s first pieces for Lees’ Jazzletter was on Gene Krupa. Lees has now seen fit to reprint the piece in the April, 2007, issue of Jazzletter.
I had never seen the entire piece, and now I wish I had not. Bobby Scott loved Gene and considered him a stepfather and a teacher. But there are things in Scott’s essay that I, for one, did not need or want to know. These were very, very, very personal things that I don’t believe Gene Krupa would have ever wanted anyone to know about. I think, however, that Lees encouraged and encourages that type of writing, but I could never understand what any of those “personal things” had to do with music.
One curious tidbit in the Lees’ new introduction to Bobby Scotts’s essay is Lee’s assertion that he (Lees)regularly receives jazz-oriented screen plays for professional review. One he recently looked at, he says, was another screen treatment by an unnamed Hollywood producer of The Gene Krupa Story. Gene Lees claimed it was “absolutely horrible.”
In conjunction with last months’ reprint of Bobby Scott’s story on Gene, it would have been rather nice of Gene Lees to mention my new book on Gene, and perhaps one or more of my DVDs. But that did not happen. It never did happen and it never will. See, Gene Lees, like Down Beat’s John McDonough and author Burt Korall, have never acknowledged that I exist in any way, shape or form in this universe or beyond. I’ve never understood why. The jazz community is a relatively small one by any standards. We need to stick together and support each other, not criticize, ostracize or ignore. There is one well known writer out there, and this fellow writes a lot, who is a good example of that old-timey, corn ball type of behavior. I may have told this story before, but it deserves another airing. I once sent this fellow a copy of a CD that I produced and played on. The CD was, and is, sort of a semi-private thing, and I asked this guy to please, please just don’t say or write anything if you don’t dig it. He ignored me and panned the heck out of it. He later claimed that he never got my communication about not writing anything. Right.
If these little guys get some feeling of power by panning or ignoring fellow players and writers, let them have a ball with it. But the real people out there–the really good people out there–are more than aware that that type of behavior no longer applies.
And with that in mind, be sure to consider subscribing to Gene Lees’ Jazzletter. For information and subscription rates, write to Box 240, Ojai, CA 93024-0240. Keep swingin, Gene. — Bruce Klauber, May, 2007.