A writing teacher one told me to avoid using the word “beautiful.” Well, Michael Steinman’s post about Johnny Windhurst and Jack Gardner is simply beautiful.
I try to cover obscure musicians on my blog, but after reading his post I not only want to hear more of Windhurst and Gardner’s music (and I haven’t even listened to the clip yet), I want to know more about the musicians themselves.
It’s also heartwarming to hear about people like Ms. Taylor, who in this context was “just a fan” but is responsible for preserving this music decades after the scholars and critics would have skipped it and written another biography of Miles Davis. The reference to trading tapes is another uplifting reminder of a time before everything was tagged and downloadable, when people shared music, talked about it and perhaps even got to know one another in the process.
We have come so far yet lost so much when it comes to hearing history, but we always have people like Michael Steinman, and as a result “Gypsy,” Johnny, Jack, Archie Semple and so many others. That is beautiful.
When I returned to my apartment in New York, I thought, “I need music in here. Music will help remind me who I am, what I am supposed to be doing, where my path might lead.” Initially I reached for some favorite performances for consolation, then moved over to the crates of homemade audiocassettes — evidence of more than twenty-five years of tape-trading with like-minded souls.
One tape had the notation PRIVATE CHICAGO, and looking at it, I knew that it was the gift of Leonora Taylor, who preferred to be called “Gypsy,” and who had an unusual collection of music. When I asked drummer / scholar Hal Smith about her, he reminded me that she loved the UK clarinetist Archie Semple. Although I don’t recall having much if any Archie to offer her, we traded twenty or thirty cassettes.
PRIVATE CHICAGO had some delightful material recorded (presumably) at the…
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