Friday, April 26, 2013

Memories of a Jazz Journalist - Part Two - Buzzy Drootin

Here is a continuation of the new series of entries that come from an article that George wrote in 2004.

Drummer Buzzy Drootin (Braintree, MA), one of the most amusing characters I've ever met, didn't want me to mention in my story that he had told me that several of his jazz all-star colleagues were addicted to alcohol or drugs. When I told Buzzy that they were all dead, he said, "I know, but I don't want people to know I've been talking about them."

Benjamin "Buzzy" Drootin, whose family was Jewish, was born in Kiev, Ukraine on April 22, 1920. The family emigrated to the United States and settled in Boston, Massachusetts when he was five.

His family was musical, his father played the clarinet and both of his brothers also played instruments. Buzzy began playing the drums professionally as a teenager and for the next fifty years would play with some of the leading jazz musicians in America.

Jess Stacy
In the beginning though, he earned cash working in bars. He began touring  with the Jess Stacy All-Stars when he was about twenty. After the war he worked as the house drummer at Eddie Condon's in New York from 1947 until 1951.

Wingy Manone
Over the years in the 1950's and 1960's he worked in clubs in Chicago and Boston and played with musicians such as Jimmy McPartland, Doc Cheatham, and Wingy Manone. He also recorded with Tommy Dorsey, Bobby Hackett and the Dukes of Dixieland. Other musicians he played with were Chuck Hedges and Wild Bill Davison.

In 1973, after touring Europe and the States, he and his brother Al formed the Drootin Brothers Jazz Band. He played at the Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival in the 1980's.

George A. Borgman interviewed Buzzy and wrote a story on him that was published in The Mississippi Rag.

He died, from cancer, on May 21, 2000, at the age of eighty at the Actors Fund Retirement and Nursing Home in Englewood, New Jersey. He had a daughter, Natasha and two sons, Peter and Tony.

Here Buzzy Drooton plays with the Wild Bill Davison All Stars in 1984 in Malmo, Sweden.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Look at Scott Yanow's New Book!

A new book by Scott Yanow has been released that focuses exclusively on jazz guitarists. It's entitled The Great Jazz Guitarists, The Ultimate Guide. If you are a jazz fan, as I am, you should find this book an excellent resource. Yanow has written ten previous books and an incredible amount of other jazz related writings. He knows his stuff. Calling the book The Great Jazz Guitarists, your favorite local jazz guitarist might not be included, but, a very large amount of guitarists actually are. Even ones from abroad like Lino Patruno of Italy.

The book contains several guitarists that George A. Borgman knew, interviewed or wrote about including Al Casey, Marty Grosz, Gray Sargent, and Bucky Pizzarelli.

My personal favorite jazz is early to Swing, when it gets to bee-bop I kind of lose interest, however, this book has all the best from every era. Some of the ones from my favorite era are Eddie Condon, Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang and Dick McDonough. I'm a little surprised I couldn't find Johnny St. Cyr, however, who doesn't seem to have made the list.

The book starts off with an interesting and well written "Introduction" then comes the main section which lists "342 Great Jazz Guitarists" in alphabetical order. The entries are concise but contain a great deal of information. As Yanow did in his book Classic Jazz: The Musicians and Recordings That Shaped Jazz, 1895-1933, he has some CD and record recommendations to search for at the end of each entry.

The next section lists "44 Other Historic Guitarists" then after this is "175 Other Jazz Guitarists on the Scene Today." Amazingly there's another section called, "They Also Played Jazz Guitar" which includes a variety of musicians who have at some time actually played jazz guitar, such as rocker Peter Frampton, cornet player Bobby Hacket and trumpeter Oscar Klein!

But wait! There's more! "Jazz Guitarists on Film" gives a good sized list of DVDs, a few VHS tapes and even the 10 best performances on film and "Best Ghosting by a Jazz Guitarist." The book ends with a listing of other people's books on jazz guitarists.

The book contains a lot of jazz guitarists, both living and dead, many of whom I have never heard of and a few that I plan to seek out. All around a pretty excellent book.