[Dixielandjazz] Benny Carter - Approaching 95

Charlie Hooks charliehooks@earthlink.net
Sun, 04 Aug 2002 00:08:37 -0500

on 8/3/02 8:06 PM, Chuck Kercher at ekercher@tampabay.rr.com wrote:

> Wonderfully written article about an enormous talent by a guy who
> understands and loves talent like Carter's. Thanks for pointing it out,
> Stan, Chuck Kercher

Yes, it is a good article, Chuck; and I'm sure you appreciate it well, sinc=
you, also, are one of those rare birds who double brass and reeds.  But one
great player the writer missed when he said:

>=A0=A0Speaking of doubling on more than one instrument, he asks, "Have you hea=
>James Morrison?" mentioning the remarkable Australian musician who moves f=
>from saxophone to trumpet to trombone. "Now there's a guy who can really
>double. And you know, Doc Cheatham could play saxophone too. A lot of peop=
>don't know about that.

    He missed one of the superbs of modern doubling: Ira Sullivan!

    I've worked with Ira only twice and neither time did I deserve to.  But
neither do most players, and he's been known to explain this to a couple of
them now and again.  He's always kind to me; maybe I'm beneath his notice o=
maybe he intuits how much I respect him.  But I've seen Stan Getz fold up
his horn and hide when Ira decides to play tenor.  And his flugelhorn and
trumpet are equally magical.  Ira is and will be The Man.

    I worked with Doc Cheatham only once toward the end of his life when th=
crazy rug he insisted on wearing got more attention than his playing.  He
sounded good and you better believe I enjoyed him!  But by that time, so
many other lesser players were playing better than he was, that the
comparison simply was not fair.  Doc was one of the greats and didn't
deserve any lessening, not in any way.

    Same with Yank Lawson, one session at the Big Horn in Mundelein, IL,
back in (I think) '75.  Yank was very drunk--hell, he was drunker than I
was, which in those days was saying something!

    But not drunker than Billy Butterfield.

    I was Billy's roommate for a time, and for my money Billy could outdrin=
any column of drunks and still outplay any column of trumpet players!  One
night up at Lake Geneva (in Wisconsin, not in Switzerland) Billy started
drinking in the afternoon about 2 PM when he woke up, finished a fifth of
Vodka by showtime, went on the boat (a kind of tourist boat with a canvass
tent over the deck) with another fifth of Vodka and begin to play--not too
well, really.  But then, as the evening progressed, Billy finished the
second fifth and began to play.  He played his ass off!  I mean, he began t=
sound...like Billy Butterfield!  We had Barrett Deems on drums, and even
Barrett was yelling: "Yeah, Billy! Show 'em how we did it back when!"

    So, Billy's gone and Hodes (the other Great Drunk) went on the wagon
years back.  (I said, "Art, why'd you quit drinkin'?" and he said, "Hell, I
had to!")  And so did I.  Well, almost.

    I've been known to imbibe a dram of Bushmills and a pint of Guinness.
Of was it a dram of Guinness and a pint of Bushmills?  Anyway I'm still at
the mercy of the Creat're, as we Irish speak of it.  But only once a week o=
every twice a week.  Whatever sounds best.