In January 1950, Buzzy and Betty and I moved to New York City. I studied valve trombone for a short time with, Lennie Tristano, who Betty had studied with when they both lived in Chicago. I hung around Birdland and other jazz clubs, and was befriended by Dave and Horty Lambert, who introduced me to many New York musicians and artists
Al Cohn, Brew Moore, Dave Lambert, Gus Grant, Ray Turner, Chuck Wayne
shaking hands on a recording deal with Progressive Records around 1949
In the summer of 1950, Buzzy Bridgeford found a summer job in the Adirondacks, in Tupper Lake, New York. He got me on it as a trombonist and then talked me into learning to play the string bass. He found a kid in town who had a plywood Kay bass, and rented it for the summer. We had John Benson Brooks on piano, Marty Bell on trumpet, and Freddy Greenwell on tenor. They all encouraged me to stay with the bass. By the time the summer was over, I could play the bass well enough to take gigs in New York City, and every gig was another lesson.
Buzzy at Tupper Lake, NY
I met other musicians by hanging around Charlie's Tavern, a favorite New York watering hole on Seventh Avenue in the Roseland building.
Charlie's daugher, Fifi, sent me these photos of theTavern in its heyday.
Charlie and Bert, his bartender.
A snapshot I took of Charlie Jacobs, 1950
Marian & Jimmy McPartland, and Charlie
Charlie's walls were covered with framed photos of all kinds. Publicity photos, snapshots, family groups. On this wall, to the left of Kay Kyser, was a photo that someone took on the day Dave Lambert and I contracted the painting of the front of Charlie's Tavern. Charlie gave us two buckets of red paint and some brushes, and after a day's work applying the paint, he paid us and poured us a glass of beer apiece. Dave immediately did a handstand on the bar and picked up his beer glass in his teeth, then drank its contents while upside down. That's me in the cap and jacket, admiring Davey's amazing feat.
When they tore down the Roseland Building, at 51st Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue, Charlie's was no more. Roseland moved to a location on 52nd Street near 8th Avenue, and several new bars sprang up nearby to cater to Charlie's old customers.
All of them are gone now.
(photo by Merv Gold)
In 1951 Gerry Mulligan wanted to hear some of his arrangements, and found a bunch of musicians at Nola Studios looking for a place to play. No one could afford the price of a studio rental that day, so Gerry had everyone go up to Central Park by the 72nd Street Lake. I was babysitting Dave Lambert’s daughter Dee that day, and went along with my camera. The musicians I knew were Brew Moore and Allen Eager, tenors, Jimmy Ford, alto, Tommy Allison and Nick Travis, trumpets, and Harry Bugin and Phil Leshin, basses. Gail Madden, Gerry’s friend and mentor, is standing in the first photo.
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