Archive for November, 2011

Russ Garcia: Arranger for the Ages

the passing of arranger Russell Garcia aged 95 in his home in New Zealand prompted me to reprise a piece i wrote on his last visit to the U.S.A. for the blogsite, the OctoJAZZarians. it’s in his –and my– permanent records. just search his name. RIP.

- © arnold jay smith

November 2011



there are those who have told me that i don’t really vent. so here’s one.

it sounds like the U. S. is about to re-open relations with Cuba, again. Ambassador Jazz to the fore, again. there are trips advertised by jazz mags and travel agencies. Irakere’s Chucho Valdes has been hosting his jazz festival there for some time now. however, what has gone virtually unnoticed is that Pres. Jimmy Carter started all of this in 1977 when he surreptitiously organized a cruise from New Orleans to Havana with jazz musicians on board to co-mingle. (a complete report about the cruise and what happened in Havana will appear here next April when we celebrate the 35th Anny of said journey, which starred Dizzy Gillespie in a triumphant return to the Island since his discovery of Chano Pozo, Stan Getz, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, David Amram, Ray Mantilla, Joanne Brackeen, and a young man who was doing independent musical research named Ry Cooder. included will be new revelations heretofore undisclosed.)



as i have intimated this blog will not be about your everyday goings-on.  during Oct. we visited a variety of places some not even on the jazz map.


first up was a live presentation of a play about Oscar Wilde.  it was performed in a magnificently preserved Beaux Arts room at the Prince George Hotel and presented by the Duke Ellington Center For the Arts.  a live trio played Ellingtonia while we picked at finger food: Frank Owens, piano; Jackie Williams, drums; JJ Wiggins, bass.  the play –”Blacker”– itself was not the thing for me.  however, there was an interesting sidebar. Wilde’s relationship with the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France.  they say everyone is separated only by degrees from another.  i was told that Col. Dreyfus was a forebear of Dreyfus Funds, where my retirement is housed, and more importantly Dreyfus Jazz Records, for whom i was publicist.


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