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:

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On September 3, 1958, I interviewed George Shearing in a studio at WCAU, Philadelphia (then a CBS station), where I produced and wrote a weekly documentary-type radio show called Accent on Jazz. I had immigrated to the U.S. less than a year earlier and was still acclimatizing myself to working in the real radio world. Compared to a small quonset hut military station in the barren wilds of Keflavik, this was the big time. My interview with Lester Young, in that same studio a week before had not gone so well, but Mr. Shearing gave this one its relative smoothness.


Impromptu Lush Life.

It was a late January night a half century ago. Duke and his band were the star attraction at New York's Basin Street East, but this is a moment with Billy Strayhorn. The MC is William B. Williams, then my co-worker at WNEW, and I should have gone there with him, as he suggested, but I must have had something better to do, although I doubt that. Not that I missed a great performance, but even when he sang flat, Billy Strayhorn managed to get his message across. Check it out.


Ruby Reminisces about Bessie Smith

As you may have noticed, I have over the years posted excerpts from the amazing series of interviews Ruby Walker contributed to my Bessie Smith biography, "Bessie," which was first published in 1972.

Unfortunately, DivShare, the service I subscribed to in order to post audio and video clips, seems to have gone out of business. There was no warning, no apology, no explanation. Worse still, the company left no path for its thousands of subscribers to retrieve uploaded files. I have begun replacing my posted clips wherever possible, but it is a slow, laborious process. If you attempt in vain to use a link on this blog, please leave a comment. I will then give that link priority and try to reinstate it.

This morning, while replacing a couple of the Ruby Walker links, I decided to post longer, unedited segments that include previously unpublished material. I edited out a few long pauses, a couple of phone rings, and a brief garbled tape glitch, but these are essentially the raw tapes. 
Bessie, Ruby and The Dancing Sheiks.
"Eggie" Pitts seated in the middle.

The interviews took place in my N.Y. apartment over forty years ago, with Ruby seated exactly where I now enter this into my computer. At one point, you may hear her give advice to her "black brother"—that being my doberman, Mingus. When I paid Ruby for her invaluable help, she used the money to fulfill a dream and move to California. Here are the first two parts of our interview. Please bear in mind that this is not the customary Q and A exchange, for the sole purpose was to gather information regarding Bessie Smith and her life.

If only Home Box Office had shared that goal, they would not have hired a clueless amateur writer/director [Dee Rees] to turn the extraordinary Ms. Smith into the centerpiece of a ludicrous lesbian-focused scenario in which actors [some of them accomplished] portray embarrassing stereotypes. Here is the unvarnished truth, a glimpse of the real Bessie Smith, told by someone who spent 14 years on the road with her. 

The Ruby Walker tapes - Part 1
Ruby recalls meeting and hearing Bessie sing for the first time.

The Ruby Walker tapes - Part 2
Ruby describes a Buffet Flat experience in great detail.