It was probably Dean who was responsible for him being where he was right now, he thought as he sat across the table from his fiancée listening to her talk about the wedding and the gifts they were registered for and the reception. He had discovered an album he didn’t approve of – Barbra Streisand – among Dean’s records when he went to stay with him shortly after he got married to a woman from Cleveland.
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges – the first-ever biography of the immortal musician – talks about the enigmatic man and his unforgettable sound.
“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. In this edition, Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges, writes about Hodges’ early musical training, and the first meeting he had with Sidney Bechet, the influential and legendary reed player who Hodges called “tops in my book.”
. . Boston-based writer Con Chapman is the author of two novels, over thirty stage plays, and fifty books of humor. Most recently, he is the author of Rabbit’s Blues, The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges. I had the good fortune of interviewing Mr. Chapman recently about Hodges. That discussion will be published in … Continue reading ““Father Kniest, Jazz Priest”…a short story by Con Chapman”
“Masters of the Jazz Kazoo” is a short story by Con Chapman about a man whose goal was to make it in New York’s cutthroat world of the jazz kazoo!
Like all jazz kazoo players, getting to New York City was always my goal. To turn the Sinatra song on its head, until you made it there, you hadn’t made it anywhere.
Yes, I’d cut every kazooist in the Quad Cities, the sub-metropolitan area of Iowa that from the air appears to be what it is full of — squares. Then I’d moved on to Chicago, like Louis Armstrong, where I found a wider audience for my “kool kazoo” stylings. It may be America’s “Second City” (actually third, but who’s counting) but landing on my feet there was like a
“Father Kniest, Jazz Priest” is a short story by Con Chapman about “a man of the cloth…deputized by a higher power to save jazzmen’s souls from the lures and wiles and temptations of bad taste.”
I’m getting too old for this, I thought as I made my way down Boylston Street, my tambourine in one hand, the Good Book in the other. I started ministering to the jazz scene in Boston back when Estelle Slavin and Her Swinging Brunettes were the house band at Izzy Ort’s Coney Island Club on Essex Street. Floogie Williams and the Unquenchables were ensconced at the Tip-Top Lounge, which didn’t sit well with the sconces that came with the place as trade fixtures, but so what? We were young and crazy for jazz — we didn’t care.
But now I’m closing in on eighty, and eighty’s looking over its shoulder, nervous as hell. I’ll catch it soon enough — if I don’t die first.
Back in ’55 I was just out of the seminary and was assigned by my