VJM’s founder, the late Trevor Benwell often described it as a large family, all united in a love of jazz and blues music (even if he thought LPs “revolved at illegal speeds”) and to this day each issue of VJM is the result of a considerable team effort. This includes the writers and researchers of leader articles which make VJM more than just a record trading vehicle, such as Björn Englund, Anthony Baldwin and Nick Dellow, regular writers of lively correspondence such as Richard Rains and Chris Hillman, Ate van Delden (our esteemed ‘Rambler’), and last but not least our impressive team of reviewers, who are noted both for their breadth and depth of knowledge and ability to succinctly summarise the material reviewed. So, without further ado, let’s meet the team!
MARK BERRESFORD. Professional record seller, author, researcher, and Editor/ publisher of Vintage Jazz Mart.
What kinds of jazz and other music are the ones that particularly appeal to you?
I’m very keen on not just jazz but syncopated music in general up to the period where it’s defined more as swing…so my tastes and my records go back to the mid 1890s – and cover proto-ragtime, ragtime, coon songs, klezmer, African-caribbean music with syncopated rhythms…and the thing I always look for is the syncopated rhythm…which then follows on into jazz as well. And so I don’t have a jazz collection: I collect syncopated music.
But what is it about syncopated music that draws you into it?
Take for example the recordings made in London in 1902 by Edgar Cantrell and Richard Williams: here are two guys from America who’d been in Europe since 1894…one was from Kentucky, born during the Civil War, the other was a German immigrant, and their records are astonishing…they’re performing American folk and country tunes infused with ragtime, and so we’re hearing music, which didn’t appear on record in America until 1924, when Uncle Dave Macon recorded. There’s nothing on record remotely like them until then, but there they were in London when Queen Victoria had been dead for just over a year, putting on record this wonderful crossover music of folk, ragtime, minstrelsy and bluegrass…and they’re extremely rare!
How does the ‘unexpected’ play out in the jazz and blues records you collect?
My major influence was the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and I know the records off by heart but I can still listen to them and feel my hair stand on end because they’re so radical a departure from what had been put on record before, that the surprise is doubly astounding because it seems to have come from nowhere. It didn’t, of course, but the perception is it’s so fundamentally different, in the same way as Louis Armstrong’s introduction to West End Blues is so radical a thing, astonishing…where’s it come from? There are wonderful moments on many records where something happens when you least expect it, like Al Bernard’s Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider on Harmony, where there’s this astonishing mellophone solo in the middle, red hot, what’s it doing there? Why is it there? Why a mellophone? And it’s those little surprises that make it worthwhile for me.
Is rarity a factor in what you collect?
It’s got to be to some extent, because there are some things that just didn’t sell, maybe because people didn’t understand them, or didn’t know what they were; but on the other hand, some of my favourite records are astonishingly common, and that’s just because they’re damn good!
So to what extent, viewed from the 21st century, do you think the recording industry was generally very conservative in the early 20th century in what it was prepared to record? Or was it more experimental than we think?
I think some of the smaller American companies were very experimental, but I think the industry in Britain had a more flexible policy to the artists it recorded, whereas in the USA the industry was dominated by studio singers. There were some of those in the UK as well, but we had a tradition of recording original artists doing their own material, people like Leslie Stewart, Marie Lloyd. This was much rarer in America…there weren’t as many Bert Williamses getting on record in the US as there were Marie Lloyds in Britain! People like Henry Burr and Billy Murray had the industry sewn up.
What’s your take on the wider, sometimes acrimonious debate in jazz about the black versus white origins of the music? Some critics only acknowledge ‘white’ influences when they come from the underprivileged or downtrodden, such as Jews, for example…
It’s an interesting point, because early white jazz was massively influenced by Jewish music and you hear this especially from performers who were indeed Jewish themselves…but as far as saying, was jazz originally black or white, I don’t think there’s an answer to that, it’s too bound up in the two cultures. If you interview old white musicians, they regularly played with black musicians, or saw them, they exchanged ideas, so I don’t think anyone can say “it’s black”, or “it’s white”…it’s both.
But isn’t it true that most jazz collectors of the older generation were brought up on a diet of mainly white bands, with a few black performers like Armstrong and Ellington thrown in as they were so obviously different…because that was what the record companies issued. Do you think that’s changed? Is it perhaps the case now that white bands, especially from the 20s, are being undervalued?
Yes, and they have been for a long time now. I don’t understand why, because what whites were doing was every bit as good as what blacks were doing, just different. By and large, you play a record, black or white, and it’s obvious which is which, even if only because of the rhythm – the nuances are so different. There are exceptions, of course: Leroy Smith sometimes sounds terribly white, but generally the rhythmic approach is very different, not better, just different.
What do you prize most – musically - about your collection?
That it’s a very broad window into a quite narrow period…we’re looking at the late 1890s to 1930, so that’s about 35 years. But the thing I value most is that it does date back sufficiently far that you can hear where the things came from that ultimately became jazz. I find it fascinating to listen to a 1905 Arthur Pryor or a 1901 Sousa’s Band record, and have this relentless rhythm in places, which is a precursor to jazz, something ‘looser’ than the arranger originally put down as notes. And it’s being able to find that, which makes my collection different to most other people’s, being able to go that far back.
What got you into collecting in the first place…?
Coming from a musical family, there were always records around…I was about 8 years old, we had a fantastic blind music teacher, he had very broad tastes in music which he tried to pass on to the kids. On Monday morning after Assembly, we’d have a music lesson and he’d encourage us to bring in records to play: other kids were bringing in the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five, but I was bringing 78s in from my grandmother’s record collection, Fats Waller and Henry Hall…so I can trace my interest back to that.
What don’t you keep?
I have strange gaps in my collection…I love Louis Armstrong with King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Clarence Williams, but I’ve never got on with Hot 5 records…I keep a couple, that’s it. I don’t like the Hot 7 either. But with the Morton records, say, I’m complete – apart from the Autographs! There are other gaps: my Beiderbecke collection is complete for the Wolverines and the other Gennetts, but the Trumbauers? I only have a few representative items; ditto Paul Whiteman.
Is that to do with the style of the music, or that the artists weren’t always good enough?
It’s that the way they’re being played that doesn’t interest me…they’re too formalised, too structured…it doesn’t interest me.
What about non-American jazz? There’s a very sniffy attitude in Britain to anything that’s not American or British…what’s your take on this?
I never been a collector of British Jazz particularly, unless by visiting American bands or bands full of American musicians, but my European collection is very much bigger than my British collection…I’ve always been very interested in what was going on in Europe. I think more people are now of the same mind…I see a lot of European records heading for America now, a lot more than before. Now it’s available online to listen to, so you can hear, say, German bands like Eric Borchard’s on YouTube, and people now keep an eye out for them.
But yes, there was always the view, “Oh, we don’t know the names of these musicians, so why bother”, I mean, Brian Rust was famous for that…he didn’t include any European jazz records in Jazz Records unless there were American musicians in the bands, with the exception of the Hot Club of France, of course, but that’s all changed and there is still a lot of stuff out there to be discovered.
One hopes that a lot more will come out on CD, which will introduce this fantastic music to people who’ve never heard it. A friend of mine recently played me some sax solos by Charles Remue, recorded in 1928…red hot, marvellous stuff, never re-issued, but they need to be better known.
There’s a plethora of jazz publications, most of which can’t make much money…but how do you feel about the content? What do you think is the state of jazz ‘academia’?
I think there are a lot of good researchers and good research being done…the Internet means that people can do things that were impossible even 15 years ago…I mean, get access to military records, passport applications, you can trace musicians, find many whom we never knew visited the UK or Europe, for example, and this has made a huge difference. One of the problems is that because there are so few active research magazines these days – like Storyville years back – it’s very difficult to get it published. Yes, it’s on the Web, but where do you find it? How do you know about it? Because search engines like Google are geared to making money, the pages that always come up first are by people who’ve paid to be there, so that makes it much more difficult to track down the really useful and interesting stuff.
So have we missed the boat in the sense that many of those who could have given first-hand accounts are now dead and what they had to say was never recorded or written down?
Actually, I think the problem was with the researchers back in the 1940s to 1960s, who were so bound up in a one-dimensional view of jazz history, that they were only interested in talking to black - and the occasional white - New Orleans musicians, when there were people on the street outside their offices selling bananas, who were wonderful jazz musicians. They were the ones who missed the boat: they never to talked to black musicians who weren’t from New Orleans – Wilbur Sweatman, for example. People like Leroy Smith, Ford Dabney, still alive in the 60s but nobody talked to them. So we have a great big hole…
To what extent does the music they recorded in any way fill that hole?
Yes it does, but the problem is that you have a formalised two-and-a-half minutes performed before the microphone or recording horn, all to some extent dictated by the record company or the music publisher, so it only gives us not even half the story: there is a whole set of back stories, which we’ll never know about.
So you’d agree with Rudi Blesh’s comment that the classic jazz records were just “three minutes wrenched out of the matrix of history”?
Absolutely…it was George Wettling, who said that the Oliver Creole Band played the best waltzes in Chicago…but they never got to record them!
RUSS SHOR. Business Analyst at the Gemological Institute of America, author, journalist, and Associate Editor of VJM.
What got you into collecting in the first place…?
I was a ‘rock & roll baby’ and did my share of teenage boppin’ to Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. About the time they were fading, I started playing some 78s my parents had in the basement. Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and some R&B style boogie woogie. I really got hooked on vintage jazz when I happened upon a radio show hosted by Chris Albertson who was playing old 78s; King Oliver, Bessie Smith, Bix and so on. After then, my Sunday nights were spoken for. After a few weeks, I called him at the radio station (in Philadelphia) to find out how I could get these kinds of old records. “Junk shops”, he told me. “Where are they?” I asked. “Try South Street, Ridge Avenue and areas around there.” And so I was off...
What kinds of jazz - and other music - are the ones that particularly appeal to you? Why?
My favorites, meaning their appeal remains intact over 50 years of listening, are Louis Armstrong and Lester Young. I’d mention John Coltrane (up to his last period when he teamed up with musicians like Alice and Archie Shepp) but the picket lines would start forming. But over the years, my God, the first time I heard those Red Allen Victors from 1929, and the Luis Russell band!!! The emotional slam I got still vibrates. It took me a little longer to get into Bix. You had to really listen to him. His ideas and concepts were way ahead of his contemporaries. It was the same with Coleman Hawkins after 1927. I also started finding blues and gospel records along with the jazz, but I took a little while really appreciate them. I’m the guy who, as a teen, swapped away a Robert Johnson record because it didn’t have a combo behind him!
How do you feel now about that trade now?
I didn’t know about the Robert Johnson phenomenon until a couple of years later. I had bought the Frank Driggs LP and the titles I found were ones I had considered dull (I think it was Come on In My Kitchen but I’m not sure after all these years). I also found a Clifford Gibson QRS which I thought dull and swapped that one too. When I got wise, my reaction was "Oh Well…" Don’t forget that 78s didn’t sell for much back then (the early 60s). So all the value would have been in trade anyway. I don't remember what I traded them for - jazz records certainly.
Is rarity a factor in what you collect?
I’d like to play pure of heart and say “no.” But it is. Let me say this: I love too much music. So to satisfy this love, I get lots of music on CD and satisfy my collecting urge with the rare stuff. That way I can keep my collection manageable—contained in a single room (albeit well-stocked). Still, there’s an evil joy about removing a near mint race Vocalion Albert Wynn from its sleeve and putting it, admiringly, onto the turntable…the music would be just as good if it were a Decca, but the evil joy wouldn’t.!
What do you prize most – musically - about your collection?
What I strive for is the keep the best and/or the most interesting. Every artist with a body of work has produced great, not-so-great and perhaps even dull stuff. I have Louis’ OKehs of the Hot Fives and Sevens and most of his “Orchestra” Okehs as well. But do I need Minnie the Moocher or Little Joe? Not really. Or take Robert Johnson: I’ve kept Crossroads and 32-20 but sold or traded Malted Milk Blues and Little Queen of Spades. I can’t keep everything, so I make it the best ones (at least in my opinion).
There’s a plethora of jazz publications, most of which can’t make much money…as a writer how do you feel about the content?
Jazz publications not making money? That news is as old as dog bites man. First, there’s the economics. Jazz represents 3% of music sales. Next, there’s the jazz fan. Is a fan of Frank Teschemacher going to buy a magazine that has an article about Denis DiBlasio? And is a fan of a straight ahead guy like DiBlasio going to read about the latest electronic iterations of Chick Corea? Of course not! So you are dividing that 3% demographic probably a dozen ways …thus, the cake slices become too thin to make money. Now add blogging and websites that deliver the same content free and you have a licence to lose money.
Now, publishers come to understand this so what happens? They try to broaden the audience. They add features about Iggy Pop or Gloria Estefan. So, if the magazine lives, jazz dies. Same with the clubs. Last year, I went to the “new” Birdland in New York and out comes some female singer in cowboy boots doing songs from a country music revue playing in the city... everything but the damn ‘YeeeHaaa’s. (To be fair, Birdland still features mainly jazz). And can anyone who goes to a House of Blues venue actually hear blues?
What do you think is the state of jazz writing / research?
In the beginning, most jazz writing was a mix of enthusiasm and romantic imagination (what Malcolm Shaw aptly termed “Bixing”) that substituted assumptions for facts: Bix started to drink because he was stifled by the stuffy Paul Whiteman arrangements… Bud Powell went crazy because he got hassled by the NYPD. On ad infinitum. Unfortunately these early writings left a legacy of legend and misinformation that persists. (Ironically, the writers who engaged in such myth creation, dismissed Jelly Roll Morton’s Library of Congress tales as exaggerations and lies. Then, subsequent researchers found that most of Jelly’s tales were actually on the mark.) Starting in the 1970s, jazz writing became much more scholarly, fact-based, if you will, and debunked many of those tales. Today, however, looking at the blogs and various forums on the internet, all of these debunked legends are getting new lives—new generations are buying this old bilge..
Is Jazz more alive outside the USA?
Probably in some places. It’s hard to generalize about a country as big as the USA but I’d say that the east and west coasts have pretty good jazz audiences and there are some college towns with strong music programs elsewhere in the country. But I think that Europeans — especially central Europe (Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, for example) have a strong affinity for the arts, including jazz. I remember in Poland (Gdansk/Gdynia), there were small jazz clubs all over the place with local players who were really good, even if they were all stuck in the Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’ mood. You don’t see that in the USA. Here, music is more pop culture oriented, so if one studies music, it’s likely guitar or keyboard and the basics are learned on rock oldies, not classical music or jazz.
Have your musical tastes changed over the years?
They’ve widened. The first time I heard Louis Armstrong’s playing — really heard it – was on a reissue of Tight Like This. That was when I was in high school, maybe 1961 or 1962. It still kills me. And Lester Young’s solo on Basie’s Honeysuckle Rose... same thing. But back then I wouldn’t have listened to a Cajun record old or new, or a contemporary singer like Cesaria Evora. I’ve learned to keep my ears open to beauty.
MAX EASTERMAN. Journalist, freelance broadcaster, trainer, jazz pianist and sometime university lecturer in radio.
When did you first get interested in jazz?
I think around the age of two or three. We lived with my grandmother, and her younger child – my uncle - was a boogie-woogie pianist and record collector. It was a very eclectic bunch of jazz records as it consisted of stuff picked up off ‘costers’ carts’, as he put it, in Cambridge at a penny time and things he could afford to buy new. So it varied from James P. Johnson’s Riffs on Parlophone through the Louis Hot Fives to Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtime Band, Sid Phillips. So, because he was away at college in Cambridge in my early years, I had the run of the attic where the record collection was, and those I didn’t break I played pretty well into the ground! Many of those titles are still great favourites, such as the Casa Loma Orchestra’s Royal Garden Blues, which I think is the best version of the tune bar none. Funnily enough I still enjoy several of the Harry Parry’s Radio Rhythm Sextet, particularly their Don’t Be That Way, which has a marvelous feel to it. It has a brilliant vibes solo and also a swing, which their records didn’t always have, but on their best they were almost in the same class as the Benny Goodman Sextet.
So you tastes are quite broad aren’t they?
My tastes are broad but I’m collecting more narrowly than I used to. 20 years ago I’d go down to Ray’s Jazz Shop in the West End where you could find Varsity Eight Cameos along with Irving Fazola Keynotes, and I’d buy things I thought I would enjoy. The fact of the matter is that space becomes a problem. As a teenager I bought my own gramophone and fell almost by chance into the era of 78 reissues - stuff that I’d never heard of before and these were revelations to me – the Lovie Austin’s Serenaders, the Jelly Roll Morton piano solos, that kind of thing, so I then focused very strongly on the 1920s, which was an era I didn’t know too much about. So I was discovering a completely new era of jazz and that took me through the 1960s, collecting on vinyl and on 78. As time passed I fanned out into other eras, but now it’s going the other way, particularly things I wouldn’t have heard before – jazz from the early 1920s, the acoustically recorded early bands which I find fascinating because they are in many ways more interesting than some of the rather formulaic 1930s records.
Did you find your tastes in jazz when you were at University?
Yes, to some extent they did, because I was playing a lot of jazz then - sometimes with Malcolm Shaw. Just before I went to university I did a number of exchange visits with French students of my age and the availability of reissue jazz on vinyl in France was ten times what was available in Britain. You could buy every McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, every King Oliver; the same in Germany too. I heard a lot of Duke Ellington there that hadn’t been reissued in Britain on LP.
How do you think things have changed regarding the ease of buying original American issues?
The availability is so much better in part because a lot of older collectors have passed on and their collections have come on the market, but it’s also because it’s so much easier to buy across borders. When I first started I remember meeting Brian Rust in Dobell’s record shop basement, and we got talking, and he said that the biggest problem with getting American originals from the USA was the Customs people opening the parcels, and they charged you a fortune if they didn’t break them. The other thing was actually paying for them. I got around this for a number of years as I had a British friend who lived in America and had a bank account in Jersey (a UK tax haven), so I was able to just transfer money into his bank account and he paid the dollars for me! Of course there’s oodles of records available on the web now, and because demand has gone up, people are looking in junkshops for them. I’m amazed how often records which you think are rare keep appearing on eBay
Is there a new generation interested in collecting classic jazz 78s?
Not as many as there was in my generation. I suppose it’s partly the distance of childhood lending enchantment to the music, but when I think that when I inherited my uncle’s Jelly Roll Morton Memorial Album on HMV probably the oldest recording in that set was then 25 years old. Nowadays we’re getting on for 90 years since the first Morton Victors were made and I suspect that the problem is that there is now such a wide variety of music available and the saturation policies of record companies means that a lot of people just don’t get exposed to music other than that which is in the charts. The thing about my generation is that classic jazz was still alive. You could go down into a jazz club – not just in London, but in Harrogate where I lived - and you could hear Diz Disley playing in the style of Django Reinhardt, and I sat in with Disley at the Harrogate Jazz Club and had a whale of a time with him! I met Duke Ellington and Stephane Grappelly and interviewed them – these people were alive and their music was around. For the ordinary punter classic jazz was still around - Parlophone had its Super Rhythm Series going up to 1956, when I was growing up. So nowadays this is quaint old music that nobody hears, except for niche programmes on the web. On my eleventh birthday in 1956 I think I had £5 given to me and I was allowed to go on the tube down to the HMV shop in Oxford Street and buy records, and I actually bought a brand new copy of Louis Armstrong’s West End Blues – still in the catalogue!
What, if anything, can be done about this?
I’m a great believer in the fact that things are cyclical. There was a time when I was first starting out at the BBC in the 1970s when ragtime was all the rage – Joshua Rifkin, The Sting and all the rest of it, and I daresay all these things will come back. The fact of the matter is there are a lot of collectors out there because, if there weren’t, records would not be fetching the ridiculous prices they are in auctions. One of the things I find most extraordinary in the last two or three years is that while we are supposed to be going through a recession, the price of records does not seem to have abated one bit – in fact they seem to have gone stratospheric. So the collectors are out there, they’ve got the money – I suspect they are older collectors because younger collectors won’t have the money - and as these things are cyclical I suspect a whole new bunch of collectors may come into the field. I think we just have to wait and see.
MALCOLM SHAW. Sadly Malcolm died in July 2016, but his wit, erudition and humour which marked all his VJM reviews is not forgotten. By way of a small tribute we are leaving Malc’s mini-interview here for readers, as a reminder of what a wonderful person we have lost.
Growing up in the 1960s when the Beatles ruled, what attracted you to vintage jazz?
I loved (and still do) that music, and essentially all the popular music of the entire 20th century. But I started with jazz when I was 13, at a boarding school in Barnard Castle in the north of England. A friend brought over his dad’s copy of a Jelly Roll Morton LP (King of New Orleans Jazz). I heard Black Bottom Stomp and was hooked. After that, I learned about Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives - Potato Head Blues, in particular, and the Bix & his Gang sides but I also learned from kids a few years older, who played Errol Garner, Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan. Not having much money, I couldn’t buy records, but friends brought LPs and EPs, that we all listened to, to learn more about the music. I took up the cornet and spent my last school year in Germany near Frankfurt, where there were other jazz fans to listen and play with and an active jazz cellar life. Then at Cambridge, Max Easterman and I were contemporaries. The music interest grew and we played in a band Max organized. I also learned while at college, that you could still find junk 78s.
Did your interests stay with the New Orleans classics?
I found some Savoy Orpheans 78s and discovered Fletcher Henderson, when I was in college. That was another revelation. I began to realize what I really loved were band orchestrations that had exquisite balance. The California Ramblers with Rollini, Davis and Quealey are a case in point. Goldkette's Clementine. It ends, and you realize you've been holding your breath for a minute. Listen to the texture of some of these recordings; the balance of ensembles, solos and breaks. It’s not about anyone being a star, it’s about everyone creating an artifact so beautiful, that people will want to buy it, so you can do it again. Another is the Joe Steele Victor of Coal Yard Shuffle/Top and Bottom. Absolute perfection of balance in composition, orchestration and execution!
When did you start collecting?
I began collecting records, 78s and LPs after I started working in London as a sales manager in the fashion trade, back when Carnaby Street was the world fashion capital. I first met Brian Rust, then I joined the Storyville crew, Laurie Wright, Chris Ellis Ron Jewson and John R.T. Davies. I knew Trev too, though he was from an earlier generation and didn’t really circulate among the London collectors like the others. Trev was the classic “officer corps” veteran, on the aloof side. To some extent, John R.T. was, too. We also had Pete Seago who ran a magazine called RSVP (Record Sales at Various Prices) who was a real East-Ender as was Ron Jewson. Ron and Norman Stevens started Retrieval Records; Norman was wealthy, because he was editor of Practical Electronics magazine. We felt privileged just to look through his disposal bin. But we all got along well, because the music was the important thing.
Did you keep up collecting in your world travels?
Actually, no. I left in 1969 for a year, as regional sales manager for Latin America for my company. Then I spent a year in the West Indies, running a hotel in Nevis, and came home to get a computer engineering degree. Then I sold the collection and moved to Caracas, Venezuela, to work there for IBM. Jazz records were non-existent there, but I still had jazz and blues LPs. I left Venezuela in 1980 when things started to get funny politically, and moved to Florida. I always listened to the music but resumed collecting only after I moved to Colorado in the 1990s. And that was a real coincidence. I’d always collected books and ventured into a book shop one day. There was a stack of 78s with… Black Bottom Stomp right on top! So I was off again.
What do you collect now?
I am still most interested in musical balance and musical context. I seek out things I’ve never heard before. I’m intrigued with what causes musical change and affects musical taste. Whether it’s from Monteverdi to Bach or Jabbo Smith to Miles Davis, I’m intrigued with the context and the process. Also, present technology has opened up an infinite amount of previously-unavailable media, so I watch a lot of vintage musical films and soundies, these days. Plus, I go and see Vince Giordano and Dan Levinson and other actively-playing friends, whenever I can.
ATE VAN DELDEN. Retired Electronics Marketeer, jazz researcher, compiler of ‘Discographical Ramblings’ and Chairman of the Doctor Jazz Foundation, which issues a regular magazine, CDs and organises its Doctor Jazz days which include live jazz performances. He is currently working on a biography of Adrian Rollini.
What got you first interested in jazz?
As a student, around 1960, I heard my first jazz records (Bunk and Bix) and then in 1962 I met some people who were starting Doctor Jazz magazine. Not long after that I got my first copy of Brian Rust’s ‘Jazz Records’ and my first 78, by Johnny Dodds.
How important do you feel jazz research is considering the decline in active enthusiasts?
Pre-war jazz developed almost without being heard on record and therefore its facts are hardly known, and certainly not in any systematic way. And even if it was recorded some of the best jazz was heard for the first time 10 or more years later, when reissues made it available to collectors. Europe has a long tradition of bringing jazz history to the surface, from Delaunay, Goffin and Schleman onwards. While continuing the research they started back in the 1930s and the monumental discographical work of Brian Rust, we keep discovering more and more of the greatness of those jazz pioneers. Just like the greats of the world of classical music they are worthy of serious research until the best biographies, discographies and reissues are available, using the best of present day technology. That also includes digitizing archives and restoring early sound movies.
What are your tastes in jazz?
“Classic jazz and more" by which I mean everything from ragtime, black and white jazz from the 1920s and its derivates, such as some 1930s jazz and post-war traditional jazz.
What is keeping you busy at present?
In addition to Doctor Jazz’s 50th Anniversary, it is my ongoing Adrian Rollini Project, which will result in a bio/discography, and listings of all his compositions, piano rolls, films, record labels, etc.
How is the Rollini project shaping up, and have you a publication date in mind?
Progress this year could be better but I am now working on the 1930s, not a very structured period in Rollini’s life. Maybe we’ll see publication in 2 years from now?
Are there any huge gaps that VJM readers could help you fill?
The biggest gap is the Ed Kirkeby notebooks for the period up to March 1926 - Dan Morgenstern sent me everything from March 1926 but Rutgers has no earlier notebooks.
The second biggest gap are the transcriptions of Rollini's Trio. There are so many and the documentation around them is far from complete, because the discs are rare and not as desirable among collectors as his bass sax recordings. But now and then details show up which are hard to fill in, like his recordings with Ben Selvin on 3 March 1930. Were the non-vocal takes actually issued? (I made Ate’s day by telling him that I have a shellac Parlophone test of the non-vocal take of Let Me Sing and I’m Happy - Ed). Those things make good Ramblings.