The Jazz.com Blog
December 23, 2007 · 1 comment
The jazz world often romanticizes the musician who dies at a young age - Bix and Brownie, Blanton and Bubber and the other great talents whose lives were cut short. But what about that rare jazz musician who lives a long life? Can we celebrate longevity as well as brevity?
Lawrence Lucie celebrated his hundredth birthday last week. No other living jazz musician can match his stories: serving as best man for Louis Armstrong, gigging with Jelly Roll Morton and Fletcher Henderson, or playing with Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club.
Jazz.com's occasional contributor arnold jay smith -- one of my two favorite writers among those with all lower case names -- was in attendance at this happy occasion and sends along his report. T.G.
Guitarist Larry Lucie turned up at his own 100th birthday party at a jazz celebrity-packed NYC Musicians Union Local 802 last Monday. And he remembered everyone who came to greet him.
As part of weekly Jams sponsored by the Jazz Foundation of America, the usually shy Lucie sat there while the greeters passed by and he responded to reporters' queries. It was also 802's annual Christmas bash and the bands played on.
The Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, an ensemble which boasts one nonogenarian and a couple of octo's, serenaded the packed rehearsal room #1 as did a small group led by Bertha (the blues) Hope and featured George Braithwaite and his twin-horned Braithe-a-phone, Bill Saxton, tenor sax, Bob Cunningham, bass, and Jackie Williams, drums.
Lawence Lucie --born 1907 not 1914 as listed in the Feather/Gitler encylopedia-- played with the legends: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Lucky Millander, Billie Holiday, Jelly Roll Morton and Fletcher Henderson. When asked about the rumor that he had played on the Riverboats with Fate Marable he said that he played the boats but not in their hey day with Marable as Louis did.
Other birthday fetes were scheduled during the week-long celebration. One was at his convalescent home on the actual day, December 18, and another at the Duke Ellington Society the day after that. Radio station WKCR broadcast a day-long salute. Also in attendance on Monday, and celebrating his 75th was bassist John Ore, who was celebrating his 75th birthday. Ore was with Earl 'Fatha' Hines aboard an historical cruise which sailed to Cuba 30 years ago.
While more musicians are living longer, and while I was lucky enough to be among the celebrants at Eubie Blake's century mark, I still mutter "one hundred . . . Jeez!"arnold jay smtih
This blog entry posted by arnold jay smith and Ted Gioia