Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hamilton College Jazz Archive

For those of you interested in jazz oral histories be sure to check out the Hamilton College Jazz Archive. A couple of hundred interviews covering a wide range of artists from Michael Abene to Danny Zeitlin and Nat Adderley to Snooky Young.

Here's a little bit from the talk with clarinetist Kenny Davern.

Monk Rowe: Was there a point where you said music is going to be my career?
Kenny Davern: Right.
MR: A definite...
KD: A definite — I can remember it like it was yesterday. 
Kenny Davern & Bill Payne
Photo by Mark Weber

There used to be Ted Huesing’s bandstand. Ted Huesing I think originally was a sports car enthusiast or whatever. And he had, he played popular music like from three to six everyday, I forget what the station was, WJZ or WOR or something like that. And the last 15 minutes he played Dixieland band music. And I liked that. I liked the way those bands sounded. I liked it especially because the clarinet was free. And then on Saturday mornings from 11 to 12 he’d play a whole hour of all these different people, you know, Dixieland jazz bands, whether it be Tony Parenti or Wild Bill Davison or you know, you name it, whoever was around at that time. And one day he played a Muggsy Spanier recording of Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtime and they were playing “Memphis Blues.” And I was just standing in the kitchen listening and I heard this, because the radio was on top of the ice box. And I heard this instrument growling and grunting and [scats], and this beautiful background like the band playing whole notes. And it was Pee Wee Russell playing clarinet. Well you know you can go look at paintings, you can read books, you can see movies, you can listen to music, and if you haven’t had a musical experience from any one of those things you’re never really going to be hooked. I mean if a book can make you laugh and cry and the same with a painting or whatever, if you can experience something — prior to that you just listen, you know, like a fan. Yeah that’s good, yeah. But if it doesn’t really grab you emotionally — and I stood there transfixed looking at that radio. And I said that’s it, I want to do that for the rest of my life. I was about 14.


Anonymous said...

Wow Adam!!! I was really surprised to see this photograph on your blog. Kenny Davern was one of the best players and a really sweet guy. He came out to hear a gig that I was involved in with Mark Weber's Poetry Band in New Mexico several years ago. I was told that he was in the audience (I was petrified). He came to the green room and introduced himself a few minutes before we went on to play. Being that he was a traditional jazz player I thought he might not like what I did but actually the opposite was true and we became really good friends. A truly amazing guy and one of the great clarinet players of any era...

Bill Payne

AM said...

Hi Bill, Thanks for stopping in. Next time we catch I'll have to ask you some more about him. So swinging and a great sound too!.

Looks like the links have changed around a bit. If you go here are search for Davern you will find his two interview transcripts.
Cheers, Adam