Last Sunday we had a brunch. I wanted Jerry Dodgion to meet Jim Gavin. Jerry had worked with Peggy Lee often through the years and Jim has just about completed his new book on Lee.
Jerry is now 81, sharp as a tack and still actively playing sax and flute. He's also a wonderful storyteller and has some great ones to tell.
He started in the mid 1940s, playing with Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Benny Carter, Red Norvo and many others. He backed Billie Holiday and toured with Frank Sinatra.
In the 1950s, he played in the orchestra at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas when Frank Sinatra was part owner. He backed all the major acts there, including the Rat Pack. He toured the world with Sinatra and appeared in the first Ocean’s 11 film with Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. He even played with Sammy Davis in "Golden Boy" on Broadway. He has had an extraordinary life.
Jim’s previous book on Lena Horne, "Stormy Weather,“ is a big success. Now Jim travels doing a show based on the book. He tours throughout the United States and performed it in Australia twice. He takes Mary Wells with him, who performs Horne's songs.
I am mindful that he first presented this idea at my house as part of a book signing and fund raiser for the Jazz Foundation of America (of which I was the co-founder).
Also at the brunch was Genie “Pepper” Swinson. At the book signing Pepper was the singer. I will never forget that afternoon, when she sang "It's Not Easy Being Green." Everyone was crying and we had to stop for minute to collect ourselves.
So many memories come flooding back as Cobi Narita was here lending her support. Her darling husband, Paul Ash, just passed so unexpectedly this last week. Music has brought us all together so many times and binds us for all time.
Frank Beacham was also here and always has so much to add. He remembers dates and details, while I am a broad strokes person. I need Jim and Frank in my life. They can document things in a clear way as I drift on the wings of a song, with colors surrounding my thoughts.
And thanks to Vernon Cummings, who is my "Sunday Helper." If I am in a fog, he is in another universe. He makes music with two turntables and a microphone. He was surprised to hear the word "beats" in reference to the Beat Generation. I guess he thought his generation had invented "beat."
Never dull around here. We are always learning from each other...words and ideas go around the table faster than the food. Many generations are present, and different kinds of music. The Sundays all pass so quickly, as do the years.