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January 09, 2011


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Don Brown

As you say, Marc, there have to be countless talented players who died without ever being heard by the majority of jazz lovers. But among the ones who died extremely young but left their fingerprints on record your list should certainly include Booker Little, Eric Dolphy, and Jimmie Blanton.

Michael Steinman

Thanks for the nudge about my blogposts about The Ear Inn -- much appreciated! I might be one of your few readers who knows something about TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET -- my sister Barbara Bengels is a science-fiction scholar, and I spent my childhood reading the series of books about cadets Tom, Roger Manning, and Astro (an orphan of space, hence no last name) and their commanding officer Captain Strong. They fought crime in space and were highly moral, even discussing the evils of "rocket juice," the illicit and potent liquor some found themselves addicted to. "Like a cosmic ray, we light the way, through interstellar space," was the way the Space Academy anthem ended. You can see it made an impression -- even if I would have chosen another planet to explore. Cheers!

Bill Kirchner

Re your astute comment, in only the past 40 years, I've known several extraordinary musicians who have left us much too soon. These include saxophonist Gregory Herbert (1947-1978) and trumpeters Mike Lawrence (1945-1983) and Danny Hayes (1946-2004). Mike and Danny both died of cancer, and Gregory in a drug-related incident.

In all cases, they left only a handful of recordings. I play them for friends and students and their jaws drop. I did a few gigs with Mike, and Gregory and Danny had major impacts on my life; my piece "Theme for Gregory" commemorates that.

It's really important for an artist to somehow document your work. A few years ago, I went to trombonist Wayne Andre's memorial at St. Peter's Church. He was a first-call trombonist in the NYC studios for years, and a very good composer-arranger. But he never recorded anything--even a quartet record--as a leader, which he no doubt could have afforded to do. So at his memorial, they showed a couple of videos of him backing Pearl Bailey and playing at a festival with Carl Fontana, and that's seemingly almost all we have of him as a featured jazz soloist. That's very too bad.


"I solemnly swear to defend the liberty of the Planets; to safeguard the freedom of space and uphold the cause of peace throughout the universe. To this end, I dedicate my life. Like a cosmic ray, we light the way, through interstellar space"
Is it possible that Mitch Miller was influenced by Sun Ra?

Ed Leimbacher

No, but they both drank the Kool-Aid. While Sun Ra experienced a Saturnalia of flavors, Mitch's taste was plain lemon.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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