[Dixielandjazz] Friend of Brian Shanley

Fishsave fishsave@pipeline.com
Sun, 25 Aug 2002 16:22:36 -0400

I met Brian in the early fall of 1950 on the baseball field at Washington &
Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. All spring hopefuls were working out
for a chance to play with the varsity the coming spring. Brian and I were
teamed up together as we both were pitchers. I went first. Brian was not
impressed. I got the catchers mitt and after a few warm up pitches he cut
loose left-handed fastball that hopped and then plowed into my mitt with a
thud. I tolerated one more and ran over to the bench to get some padding.
Brian was an outstanding baseball prospect. Six foot four with a blazing
   Sometime later that week I was chording "Up a Lazy River" on an old
piano in the student union when Brian walked in with a fellow student who
look a little like Jerry Lewis and was holding a trumpet in his hand, his
name was Paul Maslansky. " We're starting a Dixieland Jazz band, would you
like to play piano?" " I don't know if I can, I can only really play the
chords, can't play by ear." I said. " No problem," said Brian," Here are
four Black's chord books green,yellow,red, and blue. Don't lose them and we
will be fine," said Brian. "56 in the yellow" he said, which happen to be
"Up a Lazy River". Paul put his horn to his lips and we played and replayed
it until is sounded passable." No solos for you, just keep chording and
throw those tenths in once a while," said Brian. "No problem from me," I
said smiling all the way to my frat house. I was  creating my music, it was
nirvana. We named our selves the Southern Collegians. We picked up a
trombonist from New Orleans,Dave Comegys who was studying the ministry, a
drummer named Rudy Schaeffer or of the beer family or Rud Abbott, a banjo
player named George Young from the oil fields fame,and when the trombone and
drums had other commitments Paul, who sat in with the black musicians during
their jam sessions
in their part of town [remember this was 1950] corralled a drummer [Bobby]
and a trombone player
named Duke, who was also the town's black mortician and many times we
considered changing our name to the Formaldehyde Five. Paul later went on to
fame by producing the Police Academy movies and Russia House with Sean
Connery and Michelle Pfiffer. By the spring Brian has consumed half the
production of the local brewery and then some.One could hear him from any
part of the Freshman dorm practicing his instrument sometimes alone
sometimes playing along with the great Art Hodes and others. By the spring
of 1951,his weight swelled up to 260 pounds plus. Brave heart that he was he
went out for baseball practice anyway. We had a preseason practice game with
William and Mary. Brian lumbered to the mound, threw a few warm pitches that
were reasonably close to the strike zone and then the batter stepped into
the box. Brian really leaned into to one and it sailed six feet over the
batters head and hit the backstop and additional thirty feet away with a
crack. He threw three more of these comets all hitting the backstop. The
coach called time out walked to the mounds and asked Brian, " Do you think
you can throw one over the plate with that velocity?" Brian shook his head
no. The coach, who loved our music, said,
"Back to the licorice stick? Brian nodded yes. This was a lucky break for
all the girl's schools and fraternity houses with a two hundred mile area.
We never missed a weekend playing at one of them. It was a blast. Brian was
our leader. I can still see him with his eyes closed,clartinet in the air,
ready to point to the next soloist. He never waved it at he, which was fine.
I was just happy to part of the experience. Brian, may flights of angels
"Sing,Sing,Sing" thee to thy rest.
Stephen Sloan: Southern Collegians Class of 1954-Washington and Lee