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Jazz

Robert Norton Ganz, Jr. '47

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"Now you take cooking. It's just like jazz; no matter how good the ingredients are, it's how they're put together that counts." The speaker drove home his point with the help of a persistent, snappily manicured forefinger while overhead towered a big-busted swing singer traced in white tempera on the vine-colored wall which goes around the Savoy. He had a bald, top-shaped head ornamented with rimless glasses. This combined with the soft-spoken, non-alcoholized manner of speaking to which he kept doggedly despite the competition of a vociferous alto saxophone gave him the air of a dignified old schoolmaster.

From his appearance one would hardly guess that Edmond Hall has been playing jazz clarinet as long as anyone in the business and can remember when the Methusalah of the trumpet, Bunk Johnson, was still a youngster. As a matter of fact, he says, Bunk wasn't one of the big boys even in the days when he still had his own teeth. Buddy Petit, Freddy Keppard and Joe Oliver were the real trumpet kings.

When young Edmond came of age, he didn't follow the beaten path of his contemporaries up the Mississippi to Chicago, but instead barnstormed the larger communities in the deep south. For a while he played in Florida with an outfit led by a man named Eagle Eye Shields which had "Cootie" Williams, later to become famous with Duke Ellington, playing trumpet.

In 1928, the Victor Company brought a portable recording machine as far south as Savanah, Georgia and Hall left Florida as a member of a group under a Mr. Alonzo Ross to make his first record, "Blue Steel." To find a copy of the disc today would be like procuring one of those proverbial hen's teeth, but quite a few must have been circulated at the time because the whole group got a job at New York's famed taxi dance spot, the Roseland, soon afterwards. Edmond has been in and around New York ever since.

The occasion for his culinary analogy came in answer to a question about the reboppers. Hall admits that the emulators of Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge really have to know their instruments, that is: scales, chords and the like, but, he says, those are only the ingredients.

About this time the alternate band ceased their nightly proceedings and announced the Hall outfit. The Savoy's faithful, meanwhile, plus a few astute intellectuals come to hear the great New Orleans master had filled up most of the tables and gave him a big hand as he managed to extract his well dressed crew from their various tete a tetes around the room and lead them up on stage.

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