[Dixielandjazz] A Tribute to KO Eckland

JBruno868 at aol.com JBruno868 at aol.com
Fri Oct 30 18:20:24 PDT 2009

It was a very nice tribute Will. Some of the immediate family  was in 
attendance and some very nice stories where told by both musicians and  fans.
Jazz Hugs
In a message dated 10/30/2009 3:41:16 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
willconnelly at bellsouth.net writes:

Dear  Listmates. . .
I wasn't able to attend the Memorial for K.O. Eckland at the  Pismo Beach 
Jubilee-by-the-Sea last Sunday.  I had written a tribute  to my old pal 
for presentation at the affair  which never got heard  with so many great 
bands waiiting in line to play their musical salutes to  one their best. 
Rather than leave it in the beer suds on on the cutting  room floor, I  
thought I'd  share it here, where I know KO had  many other good friends

A Tribute  to
Will Connelly
Fort Lauderdale,  Florida

I very much regret that I am not  here  with you today to join this 
celebration of KO's exciting life and the  legacy of good stuff he left 
behind.  Since I last attended a Jubilee  with you Pismoleons I am much 
shorter than I used to be because my legs  have been chopped off. I have 
not yet learned how to roller skate between  venues on stumps, and my 
transcontinental mobility is even worsely  limited.

But no matter. I am with you in spirit, and I am  very glad to ring 
the bell for one of the most remarkable, bright and good  guys ever to 
scoop a clam from the shores of Lake Pismo. That's what KO  called that 
wet thing off to the west.  

I first  met KO in the mid-50's when he was playing solo  at an 
unremembered  gin mill down in Orange County. He had permitted a few 
hangers-on on to  unlimber their horns and sit in. He was the first of 
only two piano  players to lead me back to the correct melody after I 
finished 16 bars of  a 32 bar solo and veered off into the bridge of a 
completely different  tune. Ya gotta love a player who does that without 
snarling or laughing  hysterically,  and that was the first of many 
things about KO that  earned my high esteem for him.

But KO was a lot more than  a great trad jazz pianist, famed for 
artistry with the Disney-rooted  Firehouse Five Plus Two. He composed 
some terrific tunes, including  Natural Gas, a by-no-means aromatic 
accolade to Phil Crunley's Natural Gas  Jazz Band,  and Sundown Mama,
a poignant tribute to Turk Murphy and  the San Francisco's Dawn Club.  
And every one of you Pismoids owe a  debt of gratitude to KO for the 
Basin Street Regulars and the 33rd First  Annual Jubilee By the Sea 
you're enjoying this weekend, both of which were  his creations. Oh, he 
had help, of course, but the spark and fire that led  to this 
organization and its achievements were from KO's fertile  mind.

He once wrote to me that a thought had crossed his  mind, and it was 
a short trek. Balderdash! That was the mind that created  issue after 
hilarious issue of OFFBEAT, under his stewardship the most  consistantly 
funny newsletter issued by any jazz club in the country. He  also wrote 
two books on West Coast iazz  and illustrated a book by  his friend 
Richard Bach, author of Jonathon Livingston Seagull.  

KO was generous as well as bright . In 1980, I started  the Hot Jazz 
and Alligator Gumbo Society - HAGS, the j being silent like  the p in 
pswimming -in Fort Lauderdale, HAGS was operationally patterned  after 
the clubs in California like the Southern Cal Hot Jazz Society. In  1990, 
with about 700 members, $10,000 in the treasury, and with  three  Pismo 
Jubilees under my belt, I decided it was time to do a  jubilee on my side 
of the country.

I called KO. And  he guided me over the rocks and shoals of putting 
one of these events  together. Among the sixteen bands I fielded were two 
from California - Bob  Finch's Chicago Six and, yes, by God, the Pismo 
Experimental Jazz Band,  with KO at the helm. KO brought with him 
bassoonist Cal Abbott, trumpet  whiz Wally Holmes, "Fast Eddie" Erickson 
on banjo, Ira Westley on bass and  Bob Vincent at the tubs. You 
Californians imprssed the hell out of people  who did't know Yerba Buena 
meant 'good yerba'.  I wiped out the club  treasury - which KO had warned 
me could happen on a maiden voyage like  this - but we had a jubilee in 
Fort Lauderdale  that fans and  musicians alike ranked as one of the best 
they'd  ever been to. When  the dust settled, I appreciated KO's shared 
genius even more -  and  concurred totally with his view that those who 
contend that money can't  buy happiness are idiots!

You are all familiar with KO's  talents as a writer and cartoonist, 
the latter evident in BSR's beach-ball  balancing Official Seal. Two 
images you probably haven't seen are the  trombone-wielding alligator 
that he did for our HAGS logo and the guy with  a "eureka" visage on his 
puss, a flickering candle above his head and the  caption "Pre Edison 
Idea" As a birthday gift, KO once sent me a small,  properly labelled 
glassine envelope filled with toenail parings. Many of  you will probably 
remember his instruction to bring your own ants to a BSR  picnic.

A dimension of KO Eckland - he spelled it E - C -  K - L ampersand -
with which jazz people may not be aware is his  involvement in aviation. 
A bombardier in WWII, KO was later to own a  1920's vintage biplane and 
flew in flowing silk scarf and goggled helmet  for Talmantz Aviation. 
That company is famed for its aerial work,  including classic combat 
dogfights with Spads, Fokkers and other First WW  aircraft in Hollywood 

But KO's legacy in  aviation rivals his contributions in the jazz 
milleaul He founded, and was  curator of,  the internationally acclaimed 
Aerofiles Museum, an  online compilation of descriptions, technical and 
performance  specifications and photographs of thousands of civil and 
military aircraft  since the beginnings of the age of flight. The 
archives include data on  engines, notable events and people.

You will by now know  that KO and I were friends and, I think, mutual 
admirers.  Being  pilots, musicians and active advocates of Our Kind of 
Music cemented the  bond between us. IN later years, after his move to 
Paradise Valley - which  he described as a suburb of WalMart - KO toiled 
to conceal the wounds he  had suffered from so-called friends here in 
Pismo and Sacramento who  abandoned him when things got tough. He might 
have turned the other cheek  but said it was hard to do while wearing 
both a belt and  suspenders.

Yes, KO Eckland was my friend, and I miss  him, his wry smile and his 
Meerschaum filled with Balkan Sobranie. Who  could not treasure a man 
whose business card offered Norden bombsight  repair and declared him to 
be a dealer in rare platitudes?  Were I  with you now, I would rise on my 
haunches to hoist a tankard of the best  in commemoration of this 
marvelous guy, and I'd urge you to join  me.

Thanks for your  tine.

To  unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences for the Dixieland Jazz 
Mailing  list, or to find the online archives, please  visit:


Dixielandjazz  mailing  list
Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list