Local Jazz History at the Boston Public Library for Jazz Week from JazzBoston


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A sense of place and history always attends Jazz Week. Booker Ervin was a mail man not far from where I live in the 60s. Johnny Hodges was born over in Cambridgeport.

This year focuses on a region and two pianists. Both Events will be at the Main Branch Library in Copley Square.

“North Shore Jazz, Then and Now," will occur on Thursday, May 5 at 6pm in the Rabb Room at Boston Public Library.

Henry Ferrini and Jenny Chava Hudson, coordinators of the North Shore Jazz Project, present an intriguing oral and video history of people and places on the North Shore, from Sandy's Jazz Revival to the scene of today.

The North Shore follows the coast north of Boston to New Hampshire. Dick Twardzik sleeps in the unlikely town of West Newbury and he was born in Danvers. Hal Galper came from Salem and eventually took Twardzik's place in the Chet Baker Band.

There may yet be people who remember the night Bird played with Miles Davis in a Revere Ballroom, New Years Eve, 1948. For the Kerouac generation, bebop was their punk rock and Route 9 may as well be the Charlie Parker Highway as locals logged so many hours with him for gigs in taverns along much of its Commonwealth length. When NY took away Bird's cabaret card and seemed bent on running him out of life, kindly uncle Boston had plenty of work for him, often at the Hi Hat, where there was a young Fred Taylor.

In my own life time, I ended up going to both Lennies on the Turnpike and Sandys Jazz Revival. I saw James Cotton at the former and Earl Hines at the latter.

By then, Fatha, (always ahead of his time). sported an interesting toupee, had a singer, Marva Josie and a drummer who was a precursor to MODTK. He sortied from the band stand making rounds through the room working cocktail glasses for his solo, one table at a time.

Nat Pierce, Jaki Byard, and the Battle of the Bands" will be held on Friday,May 6 at 1pm in the Rabb Room at Boston Public Library.

Boston jazz historian and author Richard Vacca presents a fascinating portrait, with rare recordings and images, of two modernist big bands that shaped Boston jazz, culminating in the formation of the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra.

The main thing you can hear in all Boston Jazz from the period is a kind of jauntiness and elan as if Boston was a more carefree place than stressed New York. The various Chaloff units bounce and float. Jaki Byard was a master of subtle humor.

And in the old air checks that have since become recordings from places like the Hi Hat, the sounds of the crowds are the epitome of exuberance.

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