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“Great Day in Harlem”

Oct 18, 2009 “Great Day in Harlem”

As I have said before, for me jazz is improvisation, spontaneity, feeling, being in the moment, tight interaction, entertainment, pushing the limits of excellence, creativity, expanding into new frontiers, fun, inspiration, and discovery. That also is what my criminal defense work is about, albeit with frustration frequently challenging the fun part. Moreover, my countless live trumpet performances with various bands helped make it more natural for me to perform before audiences in the courtroom.

One of the most amazing jazz photos is 1958’s "Great Day in Harlem" (see the film excerpt), which assembled many of the time’s greatest jazz musicians, apparently around 10:00 a.m., when many of them would have otherwise still been in bed after a late night of performing. I got into jazz bigtime in 1976 at age thirteen, which was early enough for me to have experienced the following people in this photo live, at the following places and dates. Of these thirteen musician, only three are still alive, those being Hank Jones, Sonny Rollins, and Horace Silver

Count Basie – (Massachusetts, 1983) See my blogposting "If Count Basie Were a Trial Lawyer."

Vic Dickenson – (France, 1978)

Roy Eldridge – (New York, 1979)

Dizzy Gillespie – (CT, 1977; France, 1978; New York, 1985) In 1977, I was floored when one of Dizzy Gillespie’s band members welcomed the offer of me and my brother to help load their instruments and equipment onto their van, after Dizzy and the band mesmerized me at a local nightclub just twenty feet away.

J.C. Heard (France, 1978)

Milt Hinton (France, 1978)

Hank Jones  (France, 1978)

Jo Jones (France, 1978)

Gerry Mulligan (CT, 1978)

Sonny Rollins  (Carnegie Hall, Newport Jazz Festival, New York, 1978)

Horace Silver  (Blue Note, New York, 1985). I met Horace Silver at the Blue Note after his performance finished. When I mentioned having recently relocated from Boston, he said he wished someone would arrange a performance for him there; to this day, I do not know if he was exaggerating. 

Dicky Wells (France, 1978)

Mary Lou Williams (France, 1978). Ms. Williams and Dizzy were having a good time talking during afternoon practicing before the nights-long outdoors Nice jazz festival. After buying my tickets, there were no restrictions on roaming the three-stage performance grounds.

The energy that — in particular — the above-listed Count Basie, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins and Horace Silver gave me was to seize the moment, before I ever knew about Ram Dass.

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