Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A musical guide from long ago.

I had a dream about someone I met about 30 years ago, who was a very strong early influence on broadening my musical horizons.  There isn't much to the dream, we were talking about music, but it's very fuzzy. 

The setting was  Newark Airport, in the early 80's. We met while working for an airline in the reservations department.  He was from Ohio, and his name was Jerry Brown, and he was a guitarist, who recorded with his own band.  I remember that he told me to listen to a show called Latin Jazz Sunday which was on a jazz radio station in Newark, N.J.   This was in the early 80's, before I had started listening to jazz, so I had never heard of this station.  Anyway, this Latin Jazz Sunday was hosted by Chico Mendoza, a Cuban composer, arranger, and band leader.  And he played quite a variety of music which would fall under the umbrella of Latin Jazz.  He played Machito, the Fort Apache Band led by Andy and Jerry Gonzalez, Tito Puente, Jorge Dalto, Ruben Blades, the Palmieri brothers, Eddie and Charlie,  to name a few.  He would also feature new unheard of musicians to try to get them much needed publicity.  Entire album featured were another great feature.  He was a kook too, always saying what was on his mind; a fun loving type of guy.   

Getting back to Jerry Brown, he would turn me on to many musicians of all genres and styles.  One band that he introduced me to was Weather Report, during the time when Jaco Pastorius was with the band.  He also talked about what he was doing with himself musically.  One time he made two cassettes, one of him and his band, and another of another musician he knew from Ohio, Lewis Misheff.  Lewis was a rocker at that time.   The other tape of Jerry's band had an improvisational version of My Favorite Things, in the ilk of John Coltrane's version.  I remember that the other tunes were a mixture of funk, ballads and straight jazz, with a lot of improvisation.  One of my regrets is that those tapes didn't last long; they must have been bad tapes. 

I have recently tried to locate Jerry, but not luck.  I did manage to find Lewis Misheff, who does remember him, but hadn't heard from him in over 10 years.  Lewis is still active and he has an account on face book.

It's been many years since then.  I knew Jerry Brown only very briefly, but he left a long lasting impression.  Also Chico Mendoza left only a couple of years after I started listening to his show, but he too left a lasting impression.  I will always remember these people for introducing me to this great art form known as jazz.

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