|Five Time Machine Fantasies
If I had a time machine, here are five things I would love to
1 Visit New Orleans circa 1898 and find out what Buddy
Bolden really sounded like.
2 Go to the Roseland Ballroom in 1927 and enjoy the
legendary battle of the bands contest in which the Jean
Goldkette Orchestra (with Bix Beiderbecke) defeated the
Fletcher Henderson Big Band.
3 Enjoy a full performance by the 1943 Earl Hines Big
Band, the first bebop orchestra and one that never recorded
or apparently roadcast on the radio. Its sidemen included
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie shortly before they
changed jazz forever.
4 Attend the December Revolution concerts of 1964 which
featured the top free jazz and avant-garde jazz musicians in
5 Spend 1935-47 living a block away from 52nd Street so I
could enjoy the nightly jazz performances by the major
musicians of swing, dixieland and (by 1944) bop.
|Top 10 Things To Do During A Bass Solo:
(Co-written with Dory Yanow)
Admit it. Most bass solos are about as exciting as hearing a
banjo rambling on in a dixieland band, as fascinating as
listening to an insurance agent explaining different policies,
and as pleasurable as hearing an electric drill as a dentist tunes
up his instruments in preparation for your next root canal. It
may be necessary for bassists to strut their stuff, particularly
after they play 183 choruses on an up tempo blues, but does
anyone really want to sit through it?
So, to make the best use of time, here are the top ten suggested
activities that can be
done during bass solos:
10 Listen to the saxophonist on stage trying out a new box of
9 Stand up and loudly recite the Gettysburg Address to those
8 Use the opportunity to tune the piano.
7 Get into a heated debate over which singer had the best
voice: Chet Baker or Bob
6 Steal the drummer’s drum stick and stab yourself
5 Watch the club owner proudly demonstrating his new
4 Argue passionately with the waiter about the bill.
3 Have a fire drill
2 Break out a copy of War And Peace
And the #1 suggested activity to do during a bass solo:
1 Run out into the street and SCREAM!
Would you like to see me play the
All too often it has been said that jazz critics are
frustrated musicians. Actually if you hear most of them
play, the truth is that jazz critics are frustrating
musicians. I've long played tenor sax, clarinet and
melodica for the fun of it.
A You Tube clip, from Dec. 2008, features me playing
clarinet and melodica at a party next to Cory Gemme
(heard on C-melody and clarinet but also a very good
cornetist), pianist Bob Mitchell, rhythm guitarist Dutch
Newman and Jon Nelson (usually an avant-garde
trombonist) on drums. We jam "The Sheik Of Araby."
Although primitively filmed with rough moments at the
beginning, the last few choruses turned out quite well.
Click this link and see what you think: THE SHEIK OF
|World's Worst Trio?
Bagpipes, Sitar and Accordion!
|The Bizarre Jack Purvis Story
b. Dec. 11, 1906, Kokomo, IN, d. Mar. 30, 1962, San Francisco, CA
Of all the trumpeters in the Trumpet Kings book, the one with the most bizarre life was Jack Purvis, a fascinating
personality whose complete story will probably never be found out. Purvis was involved in so many odd adventures and
escapades in his life that it is almost as if there were three of him!
First for his musical career. Purvis’ mother died when he was a child and he spent several years in a training school where
he trumpet and trombone. He played in high school orchestras and dance bands in Kokomo as early as 1921 and gigged in
Indiana in 1923 as a teenager. Purvis spent a period in Lexington, Kentucky with the Original Kentucky Night Hawks and in
1926 toured New England with Bud Rice’s band. Next up was a stint with Whitey Kaufman’s Original Pennsylvanians (1926-
27). After a short period playing trombone with Hal Kemp, in July 1928 Purvis visited France with George Carhart’s Band.
Back in the U.S., in 1929 he rejoined Hal Kemp’s orchestra, this time on trumpet.
Wilson’s Georgia Crackers, Ted Wallace and Rube Bloom during 1929-30. Most significant were two numbers cut on Dec.
17, 1929 with the Hal Kemp rhythm section (the intriguing “Copyin’ Louis” and “Mental Strain At Dawn”), and a pair of
interracial sessions that he led in 1930. The latter utilized such sidemen as trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, tenor-
saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and bass-saxophonist Adrian Rollini. Purvis’ playing is full of fiery bursts, unrealized
potential and some crazy chancetaking, just like his life was. Although the Louis Armstrong influence was unashamedly
part of his style (few white trumpeters sounded as much like Satch at that point in time), Purvis also sounds quite original
in spots and, if he had continued in this direction, he might have been one of the top trumpeters in jazz.
Purvis left Kemp in early 1930, played a bit with the California Ramblers and several radio orchestras, recorded with the
Dorsey Brothers, occasionally sat in as fourth trumpeter with Fletcher Henderson (spontaneously improvising his
ensemble parts) and was mostly with Fred Waring during 1931-32. Purvis traveled through the South with Charlie Barnet in
1933. In Los Angeles he did some writing for the George Stoll Orchestra and some studio arranging for Warner Bros.
including composing “Legends Of Haiti” for a 110-piece orchestra! After being off the scene, in 1935 he returned to New
York, led a quartet, made his final recordings (with Frank Froeba), toured for a couple weeks with Joe Haymes’ Orchestra
and then dropped out of sight.
But that is only a small part of the Jack Purvis Story. John Chilton in his Who's Who Of Jazz and Richard Sudhalter in Lost
Chords (both are great books) have pieced together some but not all of the details of Purvis’ unique life. In 1925, Purvis
took time off from his playing with the Original Kentucky Night Hawks in order to learn how to pilot a plane. A few years
later, when someone bet Purvis that he could not fly under all of New York City’s bridges, he reportedly rented a plane and
proved him wrong.
In 1928 when Purvis was hired for the George Carhart band, he played with the orchestra on the first night of their
transatlantic voyage to France. He then ran across a couple of famous aviators, talked them into letting him share their
first class cabin and was not seen by the other musicians for the rest of the trip, choosing instead to play with the Ted Lewis
band which was entertaining the first class passengers. After rejoining Carhart’s group in Paris, a couple weeks later he was
spotted by his roommates making a rather quick exit from their hotel room via the roof while being chased by French
policemen. He had apparently conned an American tourist out of his traveler’s checks.
At one point in time in the late 1920’s, Jack Purvis ran the short-lived School of Grecian Dancing in Miami. Because he was
soon wanted by the local police due to moral charges with the ill-fated school, he had to quit Hal Kemp’s band in Jan. 1930
when a Florida tour was planned. By then he had earned the reputation of setting his hotel rooms on fire and not paying his
Purvis’ Southern trip with Charlie Barnet was full of colorful incidents. Passing through Louisiana, Purvis managed to talk
himself into an appearance with the New Orleans Symphony playing The Carnival of Venice. He deserted Barnet for a time
in El Paso, Texas when he decided to work as a pilot by flying cargo (probably illegal goods) between Mexico and the U.S.
And during his Los Angeles stay, he was arrested at one point for standing in the middle of a busy road tunnel and playing
his horn; he told the police that he loved the acoustics! After his period with Warner Bros. ended, Purvis worked for a time
as a chef in San Francisco. There have also been rumors that he worked as a mercenary in South America and as a chef in
Bali but that has not been confirmed.
In 1937 Purvis walked into a club in San Pedro, California, carrying a horn and calling himself Jack Jackson (the name of a
British trumpeter). He told the bandleader (Johnny Catron) that he had been a ship’s cook on a freighter and that police
were after him about a murder investigation. A few months later he was working as a cook in Texas but that job was cut
short when he was sent to prison in June for being involved in a robbery in El Paso. In jail, Purvis directed and played
piano with a prison band, the Rhythmic Swingsters, broadcasting on radio station WBAP regularly in 1938. Purvis received
a conditional pardon in Aug. 1940 but soon violated it and spent six more years in prison until being released on Sept. 30,
1946. Jack Purvis’ later jobs (he never returned to music) included flying planes in Florida, working as a carpenter and
being a radio repairman in San Francisco. He committed suicide in 1962, maybe.
Quite consistent with his bizarre and mysterious life is the fact that a man who looked like Jack Purvis and was about the
right age showed up at a gig by cornetist Jim Goodwin and they had long discussions about his life on two occasions. It was