State Street Special
Two of Jimmy Yancey's best tracks were named for Chicago addresses, "State Street Special" and "35th and Dearborn." The latter intersection was not far from former Comiskey Park, where Yancey was a groundskeeper.
I didn't make it that far down, but on Saturday I connected two famous Windy City jazz haunts via State Street.
The last time I was here -- over 20 years ago -- I bought Elvin Jones's Dear John C., which is still the only original Impulse! pressing in my collection.
After being greeted by discounted back issues of Cadence...
...the circumstances proved to be a bit embarrassing: TBP was there to do an in-store signing, and not one person was there to see us! It was a genuine Spinal Tap moment. Maybe everybody read the bad review by Howard Reich in the Tribune. Oh well. I had planned to shop there anyway.
After I asked the front desk about getting a complete Jimmy Yancey set, Bob Koester came out of his back office to show me around. Both the Mart and his record label Delmark have far more to do with early jazz than most other stores and labels that also traffic in modern and abstract music. For example, after Yancey, we moved on to Art Hodes. The Record Mart had almost 20 different Hodes CDs for sale! Where else could you walk in and choose from 20 Art Hodes CDs?
In honor of Bob I grabbed his anthology Boogie Woogie Kings (with his extensive liner notes) and the one Hodes Delmark I didn't have already. I then asked him to recommend a couple of other early jazz CDs I should own but probably don't. He placed Bunk Johnson 1944 and George Lewis's Hello Central into my hands. He chose well, because I've never owned anything by either artist.
As for modern jazz and all that '70s/'80s stuff I'm so into these days, I ended up buying so many LPs that I had to ship everything home. Notable bargains included two tenor/piano duet albums by Eddie Harris/Ellis Marsalis and George Coleman/Tete Montoliu. (According to straight-ahead scientist Red O'Sullivan, the latter is a must.)
Judging by his office, I suspect Bob is most into 78's these days.
After the Mart, I walked down State Street to the gig.
Joe Segal started presenting music in 1947. Son Wayne is now equally involved. The current home of the Jazz Showcase at Dearborn Station has been going for two and a half years.
I grew up on the Hampton Hawes/Cecil McBee/Roy Haynes sessions recorded at the Showcase in 1973. Joe is heard announcing the band on those discs, and today his spoken introductions aren't that different.
The posters on the walls of the club display fabulous history.
Hah: Cecil and Hackett back to back! This must have been in the '60s --
And this was in the 80's. Five bucks to see Pat, Dewey, Charlie and Paul! Jaysus. (Rather surprising to see the great Chicago pianist Willie Pickens's name spelled this way...)
Howard McGee, Sonny Stitt, Clifford Jordan, and Philly Joe Jones. I believe all these were taken in action at the Showcase.
I saw Flanagan at the Showcase in about 1988. An unforgettable experience! He was with George Mraz and Kenny Washington. I especially remember "Tin Tin Deo."
Afterwards, when I asked him about how he got his sound, he replied, "It's an old piano." According to Wayne, that would have been a Mason and Hamlin. The current axe is a Steinway that is easy to play.
I was a bit stupid about taking iPhone photos in the dark club without flash. Apologies for the following!
I told General Manager Chuck Cicero that his last name was famous. Chuck's reponse? "He was a Roman accountant."
Harold Mosley is Joe's grandson. Incredibly, Harold can sing along with the whole records of Dexter Gordon's Our Man in Paris and Cedar Walton's Composer. (Admittedly, they are both in steady rotation as background music, but still...) He makes a mean martini, too.
Eddie De Haas loaned Reid his bass. 80 years young, Eddie is on classic records with Kai Winding, Chris Connor, Roy Haynes and many others. One of the best is Warne Marsh's Jazz From the East Village. There are legendary tapes of De Haas, Marsh, Lee Konitz, and Wilbur Campbell from the Showcase in the '70s that will be released someday.
On the road sometimes you meet new friends. This is Levi Stahl, the man who is doing wonderful things with Anthony Powell and Richard Stark at the University of Chicago Press. What a relief to talk to someone about A Dance to the Music of Time! There's no way to explain it if you haven't read it. Today Levi published a long quote by Donald E. Westake on his blog, what could be better than that?