Jazz has always been a prominent part of my surrounding culture. Despite the best known musicians of the day, I had and have my own No. 1 rated artists. Harry Mancini is my favorite orchestra, and Carmen McRae is my favorite female singer. Her voice was the richest of all, and I loved her number, “The Party’s Over”. My favorite female performer is Pearl Bailey – loved her voice, too. Among singers who composed their own hit songs, I favor Peggy Lee. Red Norvo who played marimba with Count Basie is the name I heard mostly, hanging with my pal Pete, his nephew from St. Louis.
Right here in Tulsa we have the equal to these, if not the best of the best of them. I give that honor to Don Ryan, Tulsa pianist. I danced to his ensemble at the Petroleum Club before it closed. Guitarist, Tommy Crook, stands on that same high platform. Before I heard him play, I favored Julian Bream who had a very versatile repertoire. However, Tommy is a true virtuoso and a master of the instrument.
In the first three months of life in Tulsa back in the ‘60’s, I dined at the edge of town night club, the Rubiot, and heard Sonny Gray’s quartet play. His vocalist then was his wife, Susan. Years later I found Sonny to be my neighbor across the street not far from his former venue, the Rubiot. Another time I was associated with and got to know the former Susan Gray. Both of them are very nice people.
The leading characters in my novel, THE HIDDEN CITY, jazz along in their lives as they live a tale of daunting risks and threats and come through unscathed. My own life has inclined me to take some risks. I’ve won some and lost some. In my early life I sang jazz-pop with small groups and solo, before I moved into the classical realm. Did you know the best jazz musicians are more often classically trained.
In addition to music I have engaged in stage drama and comedy, including the Shakespeare kind and conducted many interviews in gaining my MS in radio and television production and performance. This led to recording books for the blind and giving art talks in behalf of a museum. Eventually, I narrowed my talks down to just finding entertaining projects to present to people. Now, it means I am available for presentations of THE HIDDEN CITY.
I am a product of the almost geographical center of the country from families of small business people and farmers. I departed into chemistry and worked for a large oil company, but found no chemical industry available living in machine tool centers. So I had to look around for other ways to stimulate my life, but I am not sorry for the time I spent in gaining the chemistry degree. It fed my curiosity and disciplined my mind. In writing I solve my own curiosity through my characters’ adventures.
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