The last Red Lion song circle was packed and we had such fun. You never know who I will pick out of the audience to guest perform. So as you can see by the photograph, I picked my young cousin, Zia, not quite two-years-old, but happy to be on keyboard.
While she as a guest here at my home, living in what I call the “Morgan Ames Suite,” she had her own piano in the guest room. That small piano has been played by Erroll Garner, who wrote “Misty,” Junior Mance and Billy Preston. Billy stayed here for a while when he was in town as music director of the David Brenner late night show on TV.
And, of course, Zia is an SGA member. This coming month, we have some wonderful surprise guests at the Red Lion. Our circle is an event made possible by the Songwriters Guild of America. (Click here to get to their web site.)
Tonight, I am off the St. Peters Church for a Jazz Foundation of America (click here to get to web site) event to benefit the great Clark Terry, an American icon.
His picture appears on my dining room wall, in a grand photograph, assembled by Dan Morganstern years ago. Now it is blown up and is a constant reminder to the homage that we all owe those who came before us.
To Clark Terry we owe thanks for being a pioneer in the great jazz tradition. He played the jazz chair in both the Count Basie Orchestra as well as with Duke Ellington, to name just a few. He was the first black on-air soloist for the NBC staff orchestra, when Johnny Carson was here in New York.
Living in midtown has worked to my advantage. Not only do I get to see folks passing through, but I got a lot of calls last minute to cover someone on a session, or gig, when someone was stuck in traffic or hung up by the weather. I just jumped on my bike and was at a studio or club in fifteen minutes tops.
Of course, my routine of getting up early and getting in a full practice session on each morning, fully dressed, paid off. As I used to say, the store was open. I also always carry my passport, just in case someone says lets go to Paris for dinner. I am ready to go. If you say I have to go home to get a few things, they go with some one else. Some people can be like that.
Also here is a picture of Kay Lyra, and her husband, Mauricio Maestro, playing for my students. Having a few genius musicians to drop by a “for show and tell”...this is what can be done if you practice, and eat and breath and shit music.
Hurry up and have fun. Hope to see some of you tonight at the Clark Terry benefit.