Stanley Dance was born in Braintree, England, September 15, 1910. This anniversary affords me the opportunity to honor his memory and say how much I have missed his presence since his passing, almost twelve years ago.
I did not see as much of Stanley and his wife, Helen, as I would have liked to, but we always kept in touch, even after they moved to California. Helen would call me just to make sure that I was in good health, and Stanley periodically sent me little notes and letters. We had more in common than our love of the music, for we shared a somewhat cynical view of our profession. While we took our work with the seriousness it merits, we were both ever mindful of the fact that we were bit players sharing a stage with real stars: the creative forces of jazz.
We took off the rose-colored glasses when it came to viewing the many of our colleagues and the business side of jazz. It was something we often couldn't help discussing, something that we tended to view with a touch of humor. I mean, how could anyone take someone like Leonard Feather seriously—yes, his "blackmail" was not to be lightly dismissed, but he was a pathetic little man who had an all too lofty opinion of himself. Let me give you an example of Leonard's modus operandi, which was, indeed, "blackmail" of a sort. I was not at all surprised when Carl Jefferson (Concord Jazz) told me that Leonard required liner note assignments in return for a mention in his syndicated column—he did that sort of thing all the time. It was not something our colleagues talked about in public, but Stanley and I never played Leonard's game.
I bring up Leonard, because Stanley loved the letter exchange I had with him regarding my liner notes for a Dinah Washington CD set . Here is a link to an earlier post containing the Feather exchange (you have to scroll down to the picture of Dinah).
Nobody loved LF more than LF himself, so the cartoon Stanley sent me as a response was right on the mark (click on images to enlarge)....
|Stanley and Earl Hines (Photo by Brian Kent)|
Some of Stanley's letters are reproduced below. There really is no need for me to add text, they speak for themselves and indicate why Stanley and I got along so well. He left us a legacy of books and recordings that will outlast all of us, he let me with many memories of a true gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor, impressive knowledge and insight. Some people thought Stanley's scope could have been wider, but he had been contributing to jazz since 1933, when I was two years old. Stanley made many friends among the musicians and singers whose music he so respectfully fostered. That should tell you a lot. So will these letters.
|I was an early computer user/enthusiast (1979). Stanley found that interesting and often referred to it.|
That's it. Remember to click on the images, the better to read them.