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The Meeting

This goes out to a good friend of mine Jack Engle who once met a jazz legend. New York City, 1959, in the spring of the year. It was my first visit. larchmont24Fresh out of collage and I was excited. Country boy in the big city. I was staying at the Larchmont hotel on West 11th. street. A tiny little room right out of a B&W James Cagney movie. After arriving by taxi and getting cleaned up, I decided to take a stroll, My first night on the town, I walked up 11th and was encountered by all walks of life. Block by block colors and sounds… I thought “The City That Never Sleeps”. At 7th Avenue I took a left and saw a large awning right out to the street. It drew me in. village-vanguardVillage Vanguard it said, I had heard of it but it didn’t really register with me what lay ahead. I entered and stepped up to the bar. To my left was a black gentleman in oxford cloth shirt and slacks. He was not happy. I glanced at him as he sipped a drink and he was talking to someone on the house phone. The place was typical, All bar noises, laughing, glasses going tink tink , the place was full of life. I looked at this guy next to me again cause he had just gotton off the phone. I said hullo, He glanced my way, still seeming very upset or angry and didn’t say a word to me. He stood there for a minute more and left the bar. I asked the bartender for another and turned around to look the place over. Toward the back in a corner I see a bandstand…this guy is stepping up on the stand and picks up a trumpet, miles-davis-on-stage1says something to a couple of other guys on stage and they all take their places. I slowly started to realize that I was seeing something special. I had heard of Miles Davis but wasn’t really into jazz. Miles was standing up front with his head down and his horn in his right hand and at his side, long enough for me to wonder what’s he doing? The piano player whom I was later to learn was Wynton Kelly started to slowly play a tune followed by the bass player Paul Chambers and the drummer Philly Joe Jones. Miles lifted the horn to his lips and this is what I heard. So What, I had never heard of anything like this before. John Coltrane and his sax came in for a solo after Miles. This sound was New York. It was what I was feeling. It was COOL. That night I stood in rapt attention, listening and absorbing the intricate sounds. I walked out after the set and the band had left the stage. I turned to the bartender and asked about the band. He said buddy? This here club has seen many cats that can play, but we have never heard anything like this. I walked back to my hotel room. I enjoyed my week in Newyork, but that night I became a jazz fan and I stood beside the great Miles Davis.

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