[Dixielandjazz] More Wild Bill stories - maybe more than you cared to know

Don Ingle dingle at baldwin-net.com
Mon Mar 15 08:21:46 PST 2004

Tommy Saunders writes accurately about Wild Bill because he was one of Bill's best mentored "students."
While I have a certain envy for his experiences with Wild Bill, mine were different in that they started before I was old enough to know who he was.
When I was born in 1931, Bill lived down the hall in my parents Chicago apartment building. Bill roomed with bass player cum artist George Von Pfister, later a noted lithographer and known for his lithographs of jazz musicians. Shortly before she died this past year, my mother passed on to me several mementos of hers and dad's. including a baby bracelet of colored beads with the name "Donny Ingle" spelled on some of the beads. "That was given us by Bill and George as a baby present when you were born."
Dad and Wild Bill had known each other for some time -- in fact since they were teens and playing local gigs in the Maumee Valley area of Ohio. Both were born in 1906. Bill from Defiance, along the river, and Dad in Toledo at the end of the river but with his family roots at a farm at Napoleon, 28 miles downriver from Defiance. When they were teens they chanced to play together on some local dances so were slightly acquainted then.
They got more closely acquainted in 1920's Detroit when dad worked with the Goldkette office, including the Victor band at the time that Bix was a member. 
Later, in 1929, dad moved to Chicago and worked with Maury Sherman's Orch (pianist Ray Sherman's dad) then Ted Weems, and Bill also moved to the Windy and worked there with the likes of Teschmacher and others of the Chicago jazz scene.
In 1949, 18 and just out of high school, I went to NY where dad's band was on a long stay at a club in the Village, and on off nights he and I would haunt the jazz joints, including Condon's where Wild Bill was playing.
Dad and Bill did the "old school" reunion stuff and then dad said to Bill..."Do you know who this is?"
Bill sort of squinted his eyes and then said..."don't tell me this is little Donny Ingle?. Hey, kid, wait until I'm off and we'll find a couple 13-year old girls and go have a party." I think that was the first time I ever realized a blush could be bright enough to read by. And realized that Wild Bill's reputation for being a big time kidder was as true as dad has told me it was.
Besides their similar connection of age, area of birth, and early on acquaintance, Bill and dad shared
one other thing, a sadder connection. When their time to pass came, it was in the same place, if not same time. Both died in the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA. Bill outlived dad by two decades.
I had a chance to see Bill several times in the 80's when I worked with the Sons of Bix. I have a photo a friend took of Wild Bill, my old Jazz Ltd. boss Bill Reinhardt, and myself, taken at the jazz fest in San Diego. I am proud to display it along with the photo of Bix and dad taken in 1927. They are all a link of sorts.
By the way, while Tommy's playing at times certainly can show the influences of his mentor, Tom's own individual musical persona shines clearly in his playing. Tommy Saunders is one awesome player, and I am proud to call him a friend.
Don Ingle

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