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  • Mait Eady, the host of this 1962 broadcast on WBAI, says he's "feeling evangelical" about the interview he's about to conduct with Herbie Nichols. I dare say that's how virtually everyone feels once they've made their own discovery of Nichols, a highly original composer and pianist who recorded three albums for Blue Note yet came close to being completely overlooked during his 44-year-long life, which ended in 1963.
  • I assume the Danes who filmed Louis Armstrong in 1933 knew what a service they were providing humanity. There’s no shortage of film on the great trumpeter later in his career, but this is the first footage we have of Pops in his early prime.
  • My favorite version of the Louis Armstrong-Jack Teagarden staple “Rockin’ Chair” is from a 1957 television special seen below. Armstrong had first recorded this homespun lament by Hoagy Carmichael on December 13, 1929, with the composer in the voice of the aging father and Armstrong as the dutiful son.
  • Joe Albany wasn’t the first seeker to find his true voice in jazz, but he was among the more forthright about what the music meant to him. In the 1980 documentary, Joe Albany: A Jazz Life, he puts it in both spiritual and psychological terms.
  • Benny Golson composed “I Remember Clifford” in memory of his “friend forever,” Clifford Brown. They’d been colleagues in Tadd Dameron’s orchestra in 1953 and had played together on Philadelphia’s thriving jazz scene in the early fifties. This best known of jazz elegies was premiered in January 1957.
  • Toussaint was magisterial and confidently soft-spoken, and he possessed a piano lyricism of great depth and beauty. But he was unduly modest about his vocal abilities.
  • Thank God, and Mr. and Mrs. David Cohn, for bringing Alvin Gilbert Cohn into the world 90 years ago today. It’s hard to measure the value of swing and soul, but I’m certain that jazz would feel considerably less buoyant and exciting if Al had never graced it with his musical ingenuity.
  • Dexter Gordon vies with Duke Ellington as the most charismatic jazz artist I’ve ever seen in person. His horn shook with the same swagger as the Los Angeles native’s 6’5″ gait, and good looks landed him occasional acting roles that culminated in his portrayal of Dale Turner in the movie ‘Round Midnight.
  • I had the pleasure of seeing Tommy Flanagan several times in the 1980s and ’90s at clubs in Hartford, Cambridge, and at the Village Vanguard, his home base in New York. When I introduced him at the Litchfield Jazz Festival in 1998, I mentioned that he’d played on landmark recordings by Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Wes Montgomery. Tommy took the mic and said, “That’s true, but they made all the money!”
  • Billie Holiday and Ben Webster were lovers for a brief stretch in the mid-’30s. A classic photograph taken by the Danish jazz fan Timme Rosenkrantz behind the Apollo in 1935 pictures them together, but in between the playful pettin’ and pokin’, there was at least one instance of the brutality that occurred all too often in Billie’s life.