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5/31/14

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...

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