Our old friend Dick Laurie put your editors in touch with one of our neighbours the other day, a jazz bassoonist of all things! Never having imagined one could make jazz come out of a bassoon, we were intrigued - and treated to a wonderful evening at PIZZA ON THE PARK (POTP) listening to BASSOON AND BEYOND, a jazz quartet led by Daniel Smith. Here's a little of what he told me afterwards...
"Glad you were able to come to the POTP last week. I have gone through Killer Diller and will now tell you things that will surprise you. I took up music at the age of 16 because of BENNY GOODMAN! I knew absolutely nothing about music, having come from a family with no cultural surroundings. I was watching TV one New Year's eve, and saw the Benny Goodman trio being reunited for a special New Year's show. I was mesmerised by what I saw and heard. I went out later that week to sign up for music lessons on the TRUMPET at a local studio.
Why the trumpet? Because when they asked me 'why' at the music studio, I told them that I saw a Mr. Goodman play the trumpet on TV and described a long black instrument. This was my first introduction to music via Benny Goodman's amazing trumpet playing! Over the years, I majored in clarinet, studied saxophone (with the same teacher who had taught Stan Getz), got one degree on flute and others afterwards. I took up the bassoon at age 24 while playing solo piccolo and flute with the West Point Band. Much later on I played with the NY Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, etc. Lots of interesting stuff in between, all of which led up to what you saw at the POTP.
While still very much underage, I got into BIRDLAND (the legendary NY jazz club) countless times using a phoney draft card. I saw many of the greats there; Count Basie, Lester Young, Dina Washington, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and many others too numerous to mention here.
Later on I played sax, clarinet and flute with many jazz, swing and Latin bands, including Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Larry Elgart, Billy May, Guy Lombardo, Xavier Cugat, Johnny Richards, etc. etc. I also did many Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
I saw the humorous article in Killer Diller about Tommy Dorsey under investigation for 'swinging' as taken from another publication, The Onion. By coincidence, I just happen to have with me here in London the 'Onion Book of the 20th Century' and already knew of this article. Small world!
So, now you know that I am not just a bassoon player coming from a conservatory background who along the way branched out into jazz.
Thanks again for coming to hear me at POTP.
P.S.- One of the more interesting things about my background are the years I played in Latin bands in the NY area. I witnessed violent riots, knife fights, beatings, things you can't imagine (What else is there? Ed.) Quite a different world from Mozart and Beethoven in the concert hall.
- Judy Martin