Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of Frank Morgan, Charles Lloyd/Michel Petrucciani, and Emily Remler

April 24th, 2020

.

.

.
…..Jazz in Available Light, Illuminating the Jazz Greats from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s is one of the most impressive jazz photo books to be published in a long time. Featuring the brilliant photography of Veryl Oakland — much of which has never been published — it is also loaded with his often remarkable and always entertaining stories of his experience with his subjects.

…..With the gracious consent of Mr. Oakland — an active photojournalist who devoted nearly thirty years in search of the great jazz musicians — Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in this important book.

In this edition, Mr. Oakland’s photographs and stories feature Frank Morgan, Charles Lloyd/Michel Petrucciani, and Emily Remler.

 

.

.

All photographs copyright Veryl Oakland. All text excerpted from Jazz in Available Light, Illuminating the Jazz Greats from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s

.

You can read Mr. Oakland’s introduction to this series by clicking here

.

.

_____

.

.

 

 

© Veryl Oakland

.

Careers Saved by Significant Partners

Frank Morgan

Oakland, California

.

.

 

 

…..The setting could easily have been seen as totally scripted, but this was no act.

…..Watching and photographing the pair as they strolled along the Berkeley Marina – two blissful soulmates, so much in love – there was no avoiding what was obvious. Locked in a warm embrace, the couple practically floated as one as they made their way along the boardwalk. I couldn’t help but notice all the passers-by, their heads turning to witness the magnetism radiating between these two.

…..Here it was in May of 1987. For those who knew his story, it was perfectly understandable why Frank Morgan would now be projecting such a warm, inviting glow wherever he went. That’s because after 30 wasted years, mostly spent within prison walls, the alto saxophonist had at last tasted true freedom. He had found his guardian angel, artist Rosalinda Kolb, and because of her, was now back on the scene and finally receiving long-overdue critical acclaim as a major voice in jazz.

…..Like so many other musicians during the 1940s who became totally absorbed by the new and scintillating sounds of bebop and its leading practitioners – including trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and alto saxophonist Charlie “Yardbird” Parker – it was only natural to want to emulate everything about these jazz giants. 

…..For Morgan, the intense love affair of “all things Bird” actually began when he was just seven years old. His guitarist father had taken him to see the Jay McShann Orchestra featuring Parker; afterwards, he even got to meet and talk with the alto legend in his dressing room. By age 12, Frank had mastered many of Bird’s solos, and in his early 20s had already recorded, including his debut album as a leader. But by then, he had also embraced Parker’s heroin habit and destructive lifestyle. What followed would be a ruinously long span of incarceration.

…..Coming back after missing out on three decades of what should have been the most productive period of his playing career was not easy. Not for Morgan, nor for Kolb, his virtual companion for the last 30 years of his life. 

…..In her book, Leave ‘Em Hungry: A Love Story and Cautionary Tale, Rosalinda talked about those trying times, the difficulties of working with someone of Frank’s nature, where addiction absolutely ruled his life. For nine years from the time of their first meeting until Morgan’s final release in 1985, it was a near constant struggle getting Frank to break his cycle of dependence and face the responsibilities of surviving in the real world.

…..I spent most of that late spring day with the two Southern California transplants in and around their Victorian-style home in Oakland. It was a happy time. They had just returned from Frank’s New York debut – a week-long gig at the Village Vanguard – which had produced a cascade of rave reviews.

…..Remarkably, in less than two years – following the distribution of his long-awaited, return-to-the-scene record, Easy Living, with pianist Cedar Walton – Frank had already completed a total of five albums. A sixth, featuring pianist McCoy Tyner, had just wrapped up and was now in production. Morgan’s bookings were coming in from far and wide. 

 

…..Back here in the Bay Area, Morgan was keeping a busy bookings schedule, as well as welcoming a regular stream of out-of-towners – visiting musicians who just wanted to hang out and jam. Frank referred to their spacious digs as “…our west coast version of the New York loft scene.” Since their move, some of those who had come by to play included trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, pianist George Cables, drummers Billy Higgins and Eliot Zigmund, and saxophonists Steve Coleman, Pharoah Sanders, plus the father-son duo Von and Chico Freeman. 

…..The change of scenery and solid home base also gave Rosalinda, who holds a Master of Fine Art degree from Chicago’s School Of The Art Institute, an opportunity to spend more time developing what she calls her “personal vision,” original artworks which she compartmentalizes by different-named series.

…..As I looked back on that day, I kept thinking about the arduous journey of Frank and Rosalinda, what they achieved by working together, and how the rewarding outcome could only have been achieved through personal sacrifice and the power of perseverance.

 

.

.

© Veryl Oakland 

 

Frank Morgan – alto, soprano saxophones  

Born: December 23, 1933

Died: December 14, 2007

.

.

 

Listen to  a 1955 recording of Frank Morgan playing “The Nearness of You”

 

.

.

.

_____

.

.

© Veryl Oakland 

.

The Forest Farm Retreat

Charles Lloyd & Michel Petrucciani

Big Sur, California

.

.

…..“The first time I heard him, it was over the telephone. I was away. He was in the background. I was very touched by what I heard. I drove 200 miles in two hours. I got back, took out my instrument. We played, and I knew that it was time again.”

…..Living in relative obscurity since the early 1970s on this wild and secluded Big Sur property high in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean – the place he called “Forest Farm” – tenor saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd said simply it was “providence” that brought the 18-year-old French pianist phenom Michel Petrucciani to his doorstep in 1981. Whether he knew it or not at the time, Lloyd’s self-imposed decade in exile from the commercial music scene would soon come to an end.

…..Seemingly out of nowhere came this little stranger “…trying to make his way onto the world stage,” Charles recalled. “He had a great talent, but had been born with such a rare bone disease.” (Petrucciani stood three feet tall and suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, or “glass bones” disease.) 

…..I had followed Charles Lloyd’s dazzling career from the time he had first chosen Keith Jarrett for his quartet in 1966. That young pianist, today one of the most recognized and successful of all jazz artists, had also asked Charles if he could join under his direction. Their albums, Dream Weaver, then Forest Flower: Live at Monterey, broke through previously-defined musical categories to capture heretofore unreachable audiences and catapult the group to international prominence. Lloyd’s composition, “Forest Flower,” made history by being the title track of one of the first jazz albums to sell a million copies.

…..The success that followed him was unsustainable. Month after month of relentless touring, controls on his time, and ongoing demands from his growing, insatiable fans around the globe took its toll. Charles was exhausted, and retreated “…to pursue an inner journey. It’s something I had to experience in silence,” he said.

…..When I learned that the now-rejuvenated Lloyd and his newest piano discovery would be enjoying a brief break at his home in January of 1983 following the current quartet’s acclaimed European tour, I literally jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to be the conduit for sharing and re-enacting this memorable turning point in both of their lives.

…..It was a day of total relaxation and contentment for Charles and Michel. It was obvious the two were perfectly-matched musical soul mates who not only understood, but brought out the best of each other. As an invited visitor that day, I sensed a loving bond between the two artists. On the one hand, Charles appeared protective of Michel, almost as a father would be with his child. But musically, the two were on equal footing.

…..Charles Lloyd was totally at peace that day, reflective and introspective. Once again, he knew that his latest young recruit was gaining his own footing, making huge strides, and would soon be ready to strike out on his own.

…..“Over the years,” he said, “all these incredible musicians continue to come to me and want to serve with me. So that’s like being chosen. That’s a great blessing.”

.

© Veryl Oakland

 

Charles Lloyd – tenor saxophone, flutes, composer; also synthesizer

Born: March 15, 1938

.

 

Michel Petrucciani – piano, composer

Born: December 28, 1962

Died: January 6, 1999

.

 

.

 

 

.

.

Watch a performance of Charles Lloyd, Michel Petrucciani, Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette play Lloyd’s tune, “Tone Poem”

.

.

_____

.

.

.

.
© Veryl Oakland

.

In Need of a Different Outcome

Emily Remler 

Concord, California

.

.

 

…..

…..It was a whirlwind period in the guitarist’s life…her short life.

…..When we met that summer afternoon in 1984, 26-year-old headliner Emily Remler had just completed her second successful weeklong gig in New York in as many years – this time at Lush Life.

…..Two years earlier, leading a trio at the Blue Note with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Bob Moses, she had already begun turning lots of heads. Not only was she winning over a youthful crowd of new listeners – as well as surprising plenty of long-standing players and jazz aficionados – she was also drawing high praise from some of the music’s most revered guitar veterans.

…..For someone who had gone from not being able to read a note of music 10 years earlier, to now drawing the attention of the jazz world’s heavyweights, this was heady stuff.

…..I caught up with Emily during a soundcheck at the Concord Summer Festival as part of her west coast tour. Following their scheduled evening performance, the quartet would head the next day to Coast Recorders in San Francisco to produce her fourth Concord Jazz album.

 

…..Everything at that time appeared to be going her way. Later in the afternoon, I sat down with Emily at her hotel. She was bubbly, excited about all the recognition and exposure she was getting. On the heels of her previous recordings, and the favorable reviews resulting from working with her current quartet, Emily was now in demand…just about everywhere.

…..Already, she had completed three separate tours of Europe, which had opened up a wide variety of playing opportunities. The guitarist was featured as guest artist at the Berlin Jazz Festival, and similarly, in many of the different countries’ popular jazz radio broadcast programs. Along the way, she was feted with such notables as pianist Tommy Flanagan and guitarist Herb Ellis, in duo dates with pianist and then-husband Monty Alexander, and with the John Clayton Orchestra in big band productions…even backing such singers as Nancy Wilson and the Brazilian Astrud Gilberto.

…..On one of her last stops at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, she was thrilled to have learned that Down Beat magazine had announced the results of its International Critics Poll: for the second time, she was top guitarist in the “Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition” category.

…..In addition to sharing all of her most recent musical meanderings, Emily was enthusiastic about heading back into the studios, and for the first time, recording an album consisting entirely of her own compositions. It had been a project in the making for quite some time.

…..Writing and playing her own works was a significant milestone for Emily. “There’s a lot of emotion in there,” she told me about the songs she had written for the album. “They bring out a lot of my experiences. One of the tunes I’m calling, ‘Five Years,’ because it took me five years to write.”

…..Having already proven that she could fit in with the most seasoned artists playing any style of music, I asked Emily if she had one wish, who would she choose to have in her own band?

…..“It’s already happened!” she burst excitedly. “I used to say, ‘If I could play with Eddie Gomez, I could die right after that, happy.’ And I’ve done that now. I really can’t think of anyone I would rather play with.”

…..In late 2016, more than three decades after that August afternoon, I reached out to Gomez for his recollections of Emily Remler from that time.

…..“She was committed,” he told me. “She had that feeling. She loved Wes (Montgomery), and had that same swinging, melodic vibe – not (as) a clone – but she had that essence about her. There were fewer women around like her back then. She was a real stylist.”

…..In the chapter entitled, “Emily,” from his book, Waiting For Dizzy, critic Gene Lees shared what made Remler especially proud was her sense of time and her comping abilities. Foremost in Emily’s mind was to make sure that everyone else in the group sounded good.

…..I shared that point with Eddie, who remarked, “Absolutely. She didn’t play a lot of notes, and was not ostentatious. She left a lot of room for the others in the band.”

 

…..Gomez, who spent 11 years working with Bill Evans, one of jazz’s most deeply-sensitive pianists who could reach listeners to their very core, likened the guitarist to some of the most tasty keyboard players. “She came to the table with certain sensibilities…you immediately thought of pianists like Wynton (Kelly) and Red (Garland). It was all about her swing, that understatement. She was very musical.” 

…..After that weekend, I never got to see Emily Remler again.

…..In his final chapters, Lees wrote: “In May of 1990, I got a call from a friend who told me Emily had been found dead in her hotel room in Sydney, Australia….The sensitivity that makes it possible to produce good art makes life painful for those who possess it. Chemicals may not enhance the creativity, but they dull the pain, or seem to, for a little while. In the end they add to it.”

…..I asked Eddie about his observations of Emily during the time they were together. “I had no sense there was anything wrong, or that she was having any issues,” he said. “When she came to the bandstand, she was happy, ready to play. As for her private life, I felt there was an emptiness…maybe (a lack of) love. Whatever happened, I sensed she channeled that into her music, tried to fill it with her playing.”

…..When I shared with Gomez Emily’s quote from so many years ago – about how he was the one musician who had fulfilled her wish professionally – Eddie was moved. It was something he hadn’t heard before. “She was a special person, had an aura about her. There was something almost ‘golden’ about her. She made a great contribution, and deserves her place in guitar history. She truly enriched our world.”

.

 

Emily Remler – guitar, composer

Born: September 18, 1957

Died: May 4, 1990

.

.

Listen to Emily Remler play “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise”

 

.

.

 

_____

.

.

.

Click here to read the edition featuring Stan Getz, Sun Ra and Carla Bley

Click here to read the edition featuring Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams

Click here to read the edition featuring Yusef Lateef and Chet Baker

Click here to read the edition featuring Mal Waldron, Jackie McLean and Joe Henderson

Click here to read the edition featuring violinists Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Zbigniew Seifert, and Leroy Jenkins

Click here to read the edition featuring Frank Morgan, Charles Lloyd/Michel Petrucciani and Emily Remler

Click here to read the edition featuring Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin

Click here to read the edition featuring Thelonious Monk, Paul Bley and Cecil Taylor

.

Click here to read the edition featuring drummers Jo Jones, Art Blakey and Elvin Jones

Click here to read the edition featuring drummers Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Tony Williams and Shelly Manne

Click here to read the edition featuring Monk Montgomery and the jazz musicians of Las Vegas

Click here to read the edition featuring Sarah Vaughan and Better Carter

Click here to read the edition featuring Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and Toots Thielemans

.

.

.

All photographs copyright Veryl Oakland. All text and photographs excerpted with author’s permission from Jazz in Available Light, Illuminating the Jazz Greats from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s

.

You can read Mr. Oakland’s introduction to this series by clicking here

Visit his web page and Instagram

.

.

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

Miles Davis "'Round About Midnight" (1957/Columbia Records)
“You Never Forget Your First” – by Brian Kates

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Interview

The Marvelettes/via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?: An Oral History of the 60’s Girl Groups...Little is known of the lives and challenges many of the young Black women who made up the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s faced while performing during an era rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s mission to provide the artists an opportunity to voice their experiences so crucial to the evolution of popular music.

Calling All Poets!

News about a Jerry Jazz Musician printed jazz poetry anthology, and information about submitting your poetry for consideration

Short Fiction

pickpik.com
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #65 — “Ballad” by Lúcia Leão...The author’s award-winning story is about the power of connections – between father and child, music and art, and the past, present and future.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Interview

photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960...Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan (pictured) and Big Jay McNeely played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”

Playlist

Sonny Rollins' 1957 pianoless trio recording "Way Out West"
“The Pianoless Tradition in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...an extensive playlist built around examples of prominent pianoless modern jazz.

Feature

Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – (Vol. 1)...A substantial number of novels and stories with jazz music as a component of the story have been published over the years, and the scholar David J. Rife has written short essay/reviews of them.  In this initial edition featuring his story essays/reviews, Rife writes about three novels that explore challenges of the mother/daughter relationship.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

In Memoriam

Hans Bernhard (Schnobby), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Remembering Joe Pass: Versatile Jazz Guitar Virtuoso” – by Kenneth Parsons...On the 30th anniversary of the guitarist Joe Pass’ death, Kenneth Parsons reminds readers of his brilliant career

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

painting by Vaino Kunnas
Jazz…in eight poems...A myriad of styles and experiences displayed in eight thoughtful, provocative poems…

Jazz History Quiz #172

photo of Teddy Wilson by William Gottlieb
Teddy Wilson once said this about a fellow jazz pianist:

“That man had the most phenomenal musical gifts I’ve ever heard. He was miraculous. It’s like someone hitting a home run every time he picks up a bat. We became such fast friends that I was allowed to interrupt him anytime he was playing at the house parties in Toledo we used to make every night. When I asked him, he would stop and replay a passage very slowly, showing me the fingering on some of those runs of his. You just couldn’t figure them out by ear at the tempo he played them.”

Who is the pianist he is describing?

Community

photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Coming Soon

A new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive