To answer a question no doubt on many of your minds, no, this blog has not slipped into inactivity. This despite nary a peep from yours truly in months. Not to get too personal, but working as a nurse (on night shift, no less) during the past couple of years has been an experience, to say the least! But enough of that. Let’s get to the updates, projects and interviews I mentioned in the title.
Crazy as it sounds, I’ll be attempting to post something each day, mostly to make up for the paltry amount of posts the last few months, but also because I genuinely love writing and want to get back to that. Don’t expect something groundbreaking or lengthy each day, though!
On the project front, I’ve been interviewing different people and conducting research for an undertaking that I hope and plan to turn into a book about the Dave Brubeck Quartet. It’s too early to say anything definite yet, but I will say that the interviews that I’ve done so far have been great, and the people that I’ve met in the process have been incredible.
I recently travelled to New York City to do some research and talk with some people, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Besides spending time raiding the George Avakian Papers at the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts, which was revealing in numerous ways (the man was a splicing machine in the studio), and between pilgrimages to Ivy League clothier J Press (Ivy League has more than a passing relationship to Brubeck. More on that in a later piece), I took a train up to Connecticut.
To meet up with Chris Brubeck and his lovely wife Tish. Chris, of course, is one of Dave Brubeck’s sons and at one point one of Dave Brubeck’s sidemen for many years. Meeting and eating with the Brubeck’s was a rather spur of the moment happening, and I still can’t believe that happened.
We talked and had an informal interview over dinner, and after a few minutes, it felt like I had known them for years.
Still riding high off the rush of meeting the Brubecks, I found myself experiencing another rush when I knocked on the door of an apartment back in New York City two days later. The rush quadrupled when the door swung open and a smiling older gentleman stood in the entranceway, ushering me into his home. Starstruck yet again, I introduced myself to him, and he swiftly corrected me: “Not Mr. Roth. ARNIE!”
Talking and laughing with Arnold Roth, a well-known (legendary?) cartoonist, artist, and maker of numerous album covers for Brubeck, along with his wife Caroline Roth, an accomplished artist as well, was equal parts magical and hilarious. Their recollections of Brubeck, Desmond, and of times long gone, all only slightly dimmed by their 90-plus years of life, were well-worth the train fare and soggy shoes caused by a refreshingly rainy day.
In addition to those two wonderful evenings in Connecticut and New York City, I was able to interview over the phone a few other people, including Dan Morgenstern (another fun, free-wheeling conversation) and earlier in the year, the late great George Wein. I really hope that I wasn’t his last interview that he gave before he passed away, because I’m not worthy of that. Eventually, that interview will end up in a piece here, as well.
So, that’s what’s new over here at Raggy Waltz headquarters. Lots of fodder for new posts! Of course, record spotlights and reviews will remain a constant feature here, as will spotlights on Brubeck and Desmond. Stay safe, wash your hands, and subscribe to the email notifications if you haven’t done that yet so you don’t miss out on anything!