Donald's Blog

  This old house was only a few blocks from the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. All the neighborhood cats lived in the basement during the winter. The house has long since been torn down, but in 1972 there were AR2ax speakers in the front room, and a lot of good music was heard there.

«Jul 2017»

In the 21st century I am just as opinionated as ever, and I now have an outlet. I shall pontificate here about anything that catches my fancy; I hope I will not make too great a fool of myself. You may comment yea or nay about anything on the site; I may quote you here, or I may not. Send brickbats etc. to:


July 3, 2017

Kaiser Permanente - anybody home?

We are both on Medicare and we both have supplemental insurance, and we have tried and tried to take advantage of their paperless option, and each month we each get a useless fat envelope full of "statement" offering the paperless option on the cover: "and we will send you an email notification whenever you have a statement to view." Oy...


July 3, 2017

A very talented lady

I am dubbing a pile of 78s for a friend, and it's fun and interesting to me, playing with all the old records, looking closely at the labels, looking them up in Brian Rust's Jazz Records...The last batch included Jimmy Lunceford, Erskine Hawkins, John Kirby, Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy. Nice to hear Pha Terrell on four of Kirk's ballads; he was quite a good singer of that kind. Most of the records have just been the pop music of the day, but two instrumentals were unusually fine: "A Mellow Bit Of Rhythm" and "In The Groove". I was not surprised to find that they were both composed and arranged by Kirk's pianist, Mary Lou Williams, both in 1937. She no doubt would have been much more famous and successful than she was had she not been a woman.


July 3, 2017

John Kirby: "The BIggest Little Band in the Land"

Bassist John Kirby led a band in the late 1930s that was very successful on the radio for a black band, partly because of its amusing and elegant arrangements. Raymond Scott led one of the first integrated studio bands on the radio, at CBS; Scott also composed intricate arrangements, which also required very good musicians to play them, and also borrowed from classical composers, as Kirby's sometimes did. But Scott's arrangements were novelties, presenting intricacy for its own sake; Kirby's were still good jazz. 

Both bands recorded for Columbia. One of Scott's hits was a ripoff from Mozart called "In An Eighteenth Century Drawing Room", and I can't help wondering if it inspired Kirby and trumpeter Charlie Shavers to write "20th Century Closet".