[Dixielandjazz] Common Soldiers

Dan Augustine ds.augustine@mail.utexas.edu
Tue, 27 Aug 2002 12:04:11 -0500

     While i was trying to locate some of Turk Murphy's arrangements, 
i received an email from Jimmie Harris, whose husband Joe knew 
Charles Richards when they were in the TCU marching band in Ft. 
Worth.  Charles and Janet Richards lived in San Francisco and were 
friends with Turk Murphy for years. She said, "Dan, Try phoning 
Charles Richards in San Francisco as he and Turk were friends for 
over fifty years and he can probably tell you who might have some."
     In a subsequent email she also said "Joe plays about twenty 
instruments from Classical viola to jazz clarinet/saxophone and 
Charles and Turk tried to get Joe moved out to the West coast for 
about forty years - wanting him to play clarinet for Turk."  She went 
on to say, "Charles knows everyone in Jazz especially on the west 
coast as he has lived there since the 40's.  His wife wrote the most 
wonderful book about that period called "Common Soldiers" and has a 
lot of jazz in it.  Janet had died a few years before we made our 
trip.  Charles plays wonderful trombone and arranges music and should 
be writing a book on the jazz people that he knew and still knows." 
Unfortunately, Turk died before Joe could play with the band.
     I did call Charles Richards and talked with him for about half an 
hour. He's still playing trombone, but only in the high 'modern' 
style he said, not dixieland--and he's in his 80's!  I also checked 
the book _Common Soldiers_ out of the UT library, and i just finished 
reading it today.  It's really a marvelous book, and it discusses 
Janet Richards' personal relationships with many of the leading 
figures in art, poetry, and literature in the middle part of the last 
century. In a separate message i'll send along some quotations about 
Bob Helm and Turk Murphy.
     But to finish, i need to quote Jimmie Harris again: "Charles does 
not have a computer except Joe bought him a Web TV just so he could 
get on jazz list and e-mail us.  He tried to hook it up and messed up 
all of his components."  "He would love the jazz list.  He lives 
alone - no children and it would be great company for him."
     Does anyone know or know of Charles Richards, over there in the 
Bay area? It would be great to know how he's doing, to see if he's 
playing trombone, to get him writing down (or doing an oral history 
of) his memories of jazz 50 years ago.


**  Dan Augustine     Austin, Texas     ds.augustine@mail.utexas.edu  **
**     "He has occasional flashes of silence that make his            **
**      conversation perfectly delightful." -- The Reverend Sydney    **
**      Smith, on statesman and historian Thomas Babington Macaulay   **