Enter an e-mail address to receive notification of new posts.


If this is your first visit, welcome to my blog of memories and observations. If you wish to be notified of new posts, enter an e-mail address above, and click on "Submit." As we move through a seventh year of this venture, I thank all who have made regular visits, as well as fellow bloggers who have found Stomp Off worth linking to. Doing this sort of thing is time-consuming, but I try to post fresh material at least once a week—let me know what you think. There is a Commentary option at the end of each post and a Guest Book can be reached by scrolling down and clicking on the quill image. I welcome your observations, reaction and/or suggestions in either spot—or both. As for blog content, the most current posts are on the home page, starting at the top. Earlier items are listed by month, year and title in the archive index. To zero in on a particular key word or subject, use the search option that is located directly beneath the blog's masthead. Most images can be enlarged with a mouse click, and there are links to some of my favorite blogs, etc. Since visitors have come from 150 countries, a translator with numerous languages is located below. You can at any time revert to English with a click at the top left of this page:

Search This Blog



Shameless Selfie

Click on ad to enlarge it.
As a rule, I don't carry ads on this blog, but friends tell me that I should at least run one for my work, so here is one that you can easily skip. The attached audio features actor Robertson Dean reading a short excerpt from my introduction to the book. The entire, unabridged reading runs over ten hours and comes in a Tantor Audiobooks boxed set of 11 CDs. An E-books edition is available on Kindle, and Yale University Press still has it in book form. Since I received the CDs only this week, I have but spot-checked Mr. Dean's reading. He does an excellent job, although Bix Beiderbecke somehow became Bee-derbeck.  Now, let's see what HBO and Queen Latifah come up with—in anticipation, I already bought the Exedrin©.

I hope this commercial intrusion does not offend anyone. 

Links for the Audiobook, Paperback, and Kindle editions:


Jackie Robinson jazz afternoon

The year was 1963 and the Civil Rights Movement was in full gear. Jackie Robinson and his wife threw a summer afternoon benefit party on their back lawn in Stamford, Connecticut. The purpose was to raise bail money for jailed SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) demonstrators in the South. It was an all-star jazz concert held in an idyllic setting, by a small lake at the end of the garden. Not surprisingly, the Robinson's attracted stellar performers and this became an annual event so popular that it soon had to be moved to a more capacious location.

I was working at WNEW Radio back then, so I went there with William B. Williams, Bob Hodges, and light equipment that included one of the station's portable Ampex recorders. The sound is not the greatest, but you will get a bit of atmosphere and hear some fine players.

I thought these tapes were lost, but my old friend, Mona Granager of Storyville Records, located them for me at—of all places—the Royal Library in Copenhagen. I had lent several reels of tape to my friend, Karl Emil Knudsen, and this is where some of them ended up after his death.
That's me on the far left, with the Ampex, Bob Hodges, and William
B. Williams on right.

On the first clip, Mercer Ellington introduces members of his band before kicking things off with one of his own compositions,  "Jumpin' Punkins" (thanks to Michael Leddy for furnishing the right title). The soloists are Clark Terry, Taft Jordan, Zoot Sims and Quentin Jackson.

From Billboard July 6, '63
Click to enlarge

Staying in the "jump" groove, the band continues with Duke's "Jump for Joy"...

...and a fine Jerome Richardson feature...

More to come...


The Queen becomes the Empress...or does she?

Click on image to enlarge it

In all fairness to HBO, I have not seen the final shooting script, which I am told contains some changes suggested by me. That said, I think they assigned the wrong person to write and direct this picture, and I cannot see how what I saw and commented on (as a last-minute consultant) could possibly end up as a satisfactory biographical film. The writer totally missed the essence of Bessie's personal strength, and she seems not to have researched the period. Let's hope I'm proven wrong.

Perhaps it will, by default, boost sales of my book, which will also be available in audio form this fall.


Charles Mingus Sextet: Trenton - May 9, 1972

If you were around, in the U.S., and into jazz forty years ago, you may have seen a weekly half-hour television show called The Jazz Set, which I hosted and co-produced. We had many great musicians as guests, in a jazz club setting that some people took to be the real thing. After the show went national on the PBS network, we began receiving letters from people who were planning a trip to New York and wanted the club's address. Actually, our set was in Trenton, New Jersey, but we did have a real audience seated at tables and sipping cleverly disguised sodas.

Since I commuted from New York for the tapings, I frequently took the train with some of the performers, and I can still see Mingus on the platform at Penn Station, his arm around his bass and a snack in the other hand. When we boarded the train, he headed straight for the dining car, with me tagging behind.

We ordered a three-course lunch and had a delightful trip during which music never came up in our conversation. When I told him that I had named my dog Mingus, he stopped eating, looked up from his plate and asked, "What kind of dog do you have?"

He looked relieved when I replied that Mingus was a doberman, and told me that someone in Greenwich Village had named a beauty shop after him—this had obviously not pleased him.

We were still a good way from Princeton when Mingus finished his dessert, called the stewart over and—aiming a circular gesture at the table—said, "let's do this again." I limited my request to a second cup of coffee and watch with amazement as Mingus did his encore.

When we arrived at the studio, there was a huge chocolate cake, baked by the wife of one of our cameramen in honor of Mingus. We all had some, but Mingus enjoyed about half of it.

He was in a great mood that day, and I think it is reflected in his performance, which includes Peggy's Blue Skylight and Orange is the Color Of Her Dress.
Mingus, Charles McPherson, Lonnie Hillyer, Bobby Jones

There is also my interview, which you may have seen in the film, "Triumph of the Underdog." Unfortunately, I do not have this show on video, but it's all about the music—besides, I look silly in my dawn of disco locks and outfit. 

COMING UP: The next scheduled post will comprise recordings I made at a 1964 Jackie Robinson lawn party. You will hear performances by the Duke Ellington Alumni Orchestra (led by Mercer) and the Dave Brubeck Quartet.


Barry Miles Trio - 1972

These performances are from my TV show, The Jazz Set, taped in 1972. It was one of the first shows I did and the only one where the guest  was not my choice. Barry Miles was a good musician who received very early recognition (notice his age on the poster above), but he was on my new show because a New Jersey politician had "suggested" it to station management. I should mention that the shows originated in Trenton at New Jersey Television and only 13 were picked up for network airing by PBS—this was not one of them.

Barry Miles in later years.
Please don't interpret this as a put-down of Barry Miles, who delivered fine performances, I just resented the fact that I and my co-producer/director, Peter Anderson, were given no say in the choice. Barry made eleven albums under his own name before moving into other areas of the music business (see details here).

This audio includes my interview with Barry, and three selections by the trio: Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," "Frenchie," a tune on which he performs an odd vocal form that I don't think caught on, and "White Heat," the title tune from his 1971 album. The tape ends rather abruptly, so I did a quick fadeout. The bassist is Gene Perla, the drummer is Barry's brother, Terry Silverlight.