Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chico Hamilton

     I read in the paper today that Chico Hamilton died, aged 93...time is flying... I always looked forward to seeing him when he appeared at Birdland when I was working there. At that time, (roughly 1959-60) Basie, Sarah Vaughn and Chico would draw the biggest crowds.

      Basie and Gil Evans bands would draw the most musicians, because they were such genius arrangers...EVERY musician wanted to be in Basie's Band...but it wasn't easy...he ran a tight ship, and would punish his musicians for a infringement of his rules by not allowing them to do solos for awhile. Some of Basie's rules...NEVER get on that bandstand with a wrinkled not properly combed, and NEVER arrive drunk or stoned. (Although rumor has it that the wadded up handkerchief on Basie's piano, which he'd use to wipe his nose now and then, was laced with cocaine.)

     Back to Chico...he had such an unusual that time he had a 5 piece band...and would introduce them at the end of each set...and my favorite was.."and here's our cello player Nate Gershman  from the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra."
Who in Jazz was using a cello? According to Wikipedia, his music was described as "chamber jazz". Good call.

      Chico was a well built, sexy, handsome man...and when he would play his drum solo, (sitting in FRONT of his musicians), he would close his eyes...and play, and play...then pop them open, staring at some beauty in the front row, and you'd hear a
"ooooh!" from the lady. It was a game he played every night...women loved him.
I ran into him several times at our mutual butcher, a block from my digs on 48th Street...we'd chat over the pork chops, usually about musicians who had died...strange. But this was the era of heroin overdoses....

I miss those days more than I can say.....

Saturday, August 3, 2013


    This is a work of fiction...not about me..I was never married, or divorced, and I've never lived with anyone named Dorian... R.W.

    After 25 years of marriage, my wife left me for another man, leaving me with this big house. A friend told me I was rattling around, not in a house, but in a well of depression and loneliness...and he was right. It went on for months, but one day my pastor said to me that it was time to get back into a real life, and he wanted me to meet someone named Dorian. On the way there, he raved how beautiful she was...but very quiet, rather mysterious, and with eyes that unsettled some people.
    When we got there, I saw what he meant....a beautiful face...but her eyes had no as coal. "Maybe she's possessed", he whispered. Anyway, to keep this story short, let me say that not too long after meeting her, she came to live with me, and it was wonderful not being alone....but I was never sure how she felt about me.
    The first day after she moved in, I came home from work, unlocked the front door, and called out her name..."Dorie?...I'm here."
I went through the living room, dining room, kitchen, calling out her name....nothing.
I went up to the second floor...2 bedrooms, bathroom.."Dorie...where are you?"
Still nothing.
Had she left me?
Up to the third floor...looked in the bathroom, still calling her name...and finally, in the guest bedroom, there she was, sitting in a chair looking out the window at the street below.
"There you are...didn't you hear me?"
She turned her head, looked at me with those dead eyes for 5 seconds, then turned back to watching the street below.
That hurt!
    BUT....the following day, returning from work, I opened the front door and she was on the other side, waiting for me...and stayed close to me all evening.
I was happy, but confused.
    At bedtime, when I turned out the light, she pressed the whole length of her body against mine...both of us slept au naturel , so thank God for air conditioning, because she threw out a lot of body heat. As I drifted off, I adjusted my body into a more comfortable position...and she followed me..almost like we were glued together. Was this her way of making up for her cold behavior from the day before? It was a puzzle.
    Now as any guy around my age can tell you, in the middle of the night, nature calls...the kidneys rule! ....and it's a trip to the bathroom to take what one of my buddies calls a "Geezer Whiz".
     I slowly and carefully pulled away from her, not wanting to wake her up. I stood by the bed, watching her...eyes closed, deep slow rhythmic breaths....sound asleep. Good!
    I was in and out of the bathroom in a few minutes, and now she was lying on her back, fully stretched out...still so beautiful.
     I had a feeling that she was not fully asleep...that a small part of her brain was awake...fully alert, aware of what was going on around her. If so, would she be happy that I had returned to her in bed? To find out, I slowly lowered my ear to her stomach.
YES! She was happy...I could hear her purring....

Richard Watherwax
All Rights Reserved
1 August 2013