[Dixielandjazz] Gene Little birthday
cornet at 1010internet.com
Sun Oct 3 22:45:51 PDT 2010
Call this an ode to the memory of Gene Estes.
Gene and I shared the music and band classes at both jr. and sr. North
Hollywood High. We had formed a jazz band in high school, with pianist
"Curly" Williams. Oh, that's right, you know him better as John Willams.
Yes -- THAT John Williams.
Gene and I were both born in 1931, He in the Texas Panhandle and me in
Chicago, but I am older by a half year...and feel every bit of it in the
Sadly Gene is gone and with his passing we lost not only a great
drumjmer but a wonderful and tasty vibrophonist.
Our high school band was made up of all musicians' sons. John's dad a
percussion in the studios but also the drummer with the old Raymond
Scott quintet .
A photo of the band in my scrapbook shows five teenagers who managed to
play pretty good for our age. Also in the band was Perry Botkin, Jr.,
son of Crosby's guitarist and a film and recording composer and
arranger, bassist Mel Pollan - his dad was a symphony bassist and Mel
was with Les Brown for a couple decades. Missing from the photo was John
Bambridge, who put in years with the Doc Severinsen's Tonight Show with
I spend some wonderful time at the Jazz Fest in both L.A. and San Diego
with Gene a few years before he died. We has some similar set breaks and
wandered about to hear the other bands, including Bob Ringwald's Great
Pacific Jazz Band with John Bambridge playing as a sub. John knocked me
out with the "Portait of Eddie" arrangement Bob had.
Another classmate who did not work with us at the time but later became
an outstanding guitarist was Matty Matlock's son Bud. Had kept in touch
with him, and was shocked when he died auddenly of an aneurism. He was a
speed walking racer and had won medals in it and was in great health and
shape. So it was also a deeply felt loss. I studied arranging with his
dad and we has been family friends for years.
Well, agewise, I have lasted this long - come February 10 I hit the big
80. All too often I get news of friends and fellow players that have
moved on to a higher rehearsal hall. But so far, so good.
But on this, Gene Estes' birthday, I wanted to salute an old friend's
memory, and to tell all who read this that it was a loss to those that
cherish good timing and taste from a drummer. Gene was the best of the
breed and I miss him still.
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