[Dixielandjazz] georg brunis

Charlie Hooks charliehooks at earthlink.net
Fri May 2 23:46:05 PDT 2003

on 4/28/03 8:58 PM, Bob Mc Nichols at harry0714 at earthlink.net wrote:

what might you know about Danny Alvin who played at the Argyle Lounge on
Argyle St

   The guy who knows about Danny Alvin here in Chicago is an 84 year old
black pianist and former bass player named Joe Johnson who lives on
Chicago's south side.  Joe is a good friend, a fine player, an Ellington
afficionado who is the basis of "The Ellington Dynasty," a group here in
Chicago that plays only Ellingtonia.  There is no Ellington tune that Joe
Johnson doesn't know forward and backward.

   Joe worked with Danny Alvin for awhile, and, although I have never asked
him about it, I'm sure his memory is good.  I just worked a job with him
last Saturday night.  I have his phone number someplace, and if you would
like to call him, I'll look it up for you and send it off-list.  He should
be a good source of material.

   One caution: if you call Joe on the telephone, don't be disconcerted by
the pauses between your questions and his answers.  This not a sign of
senility (although Joe himself thinks his mind is going--hell, I think mine
is, too, at only 74!).  As a young man Joe was a stammerer.  He stuttered so
badly he could hardly communicate.  And he took courses, learned to suppress
the stammer so you just don't hear it at all now. But you do hear the pauses
during which the stammer gets suppressed.

   To enlarge the picture: Joe grew up in New England, the only black family
in an all white town, his father a servant on the estate of a wealthy white
family who treated them as all one family: the rich guy sent Joe's elder
brother to Yale for a Ph.D.  in mathematics.  This was back in the twenties.
So the brother graduated and surprise, surprise, could not find a college
that would hire a black mathematician.

   What I'm saying is that Joe is actually more comfortable around white New
Englanders than around southern blacks.   He said to me once about southern
blacks, "Charlie, sometimes I don't really understand them."  He is married
to a Southern Black woman.  And for the last  60 years has not understood
her or a single one of her relatives.  (They eat clay.)   I, also from the
South, haven't either.

   I just wrote to Jim Beebe the other day, wondering why it is that I, a
Southern white boy, raised in Texas before WWII, have felt closer to several
black men and women here in Chicago than to others of my own race--to Joe
Johnson, to Jimmy Johnson, to Duke Groner and his wife Peanut, to Truck
Parham--and Beebe, with his usual insight wrote back: "You were black in a
former life."  Which well may be.  Then he said, "maybe it's because every
one of those people were exceptional people."  And with that I agree.

   Anyway, if you wanna talk to Joe, lemme know.  I'll send a number.



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