[Dixielandjazz] Ruby Braff

Jim Denham james at jiming.demon.co.uk
Sat Feb 15 01:43:00 PST 2003

In message <APEFIFNAPDPAHHPGNLICKEPACCAA.brian.harvey5 at ntlworld.com>, 
Brian Harvey <brian.harvey5 at ntlworld.com> writes
>Did I miss something? Ruby Braff passed away and I have so far seen no
>comments on the list.
>Surely someone must have some reminiscences of the man?
>Brian Harvey
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

Ruby Braff's passing: the end of an era:
Just about the last jazz musician whose playing you could recognise within a
couple of bars. A member of that lost generation of players (also Dick
Wellstood, Ralph Sutton, Johnny Windhurst, Ed Hubble, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber
and Barbara Lea) who came up in the late forties and looked to Louis and Bechet
rather than Diz and Bird, but had some awareness of 'modern' developments. Many
of them dead now - including Ruby - and yet they always remain the "young"

As for Ruby's legendary temper: there is a wonderful interview with Jim
Godbolt, published in "Jazz at Ronnie Scott's" a few years ago that will give
you a taste. Also his comment on the musically sublime partnership with
guitarist George Barnes: "George hated me and I hated him. While we were
playing it was fine. But when we stopped playing we saw each other. And hated
each other".

Ruby kept playing at the top of his form right to the end, as anyone who saw
him in London recently will testify. A player whose avowed hatred of modernism
and post-bop developments was often belied by his own sophistication and post-
bop harmonic sensibility.

But his greatest gift to us all was his interpretation of "the Great American
Songbook" - the music of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, Hoagy
Carmichael, Duke Ellington and (Ruby's favourite), Louis Armstrong.

He called it the "adoration of the melody". Which was what he did throughout
his career.

-Jim Denham

Jim Denham

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