October 25 2009, 3:35 PM
Although we have never met, I have some knowledge of you from my brother Paul. First let me say that he had a great affection for you and your brother Art. I met Art at Paul’s house inClearwater back in 1979 and very much enjoyed hanging out with him. One of my favorite recordings is Jungleopolis – it really shows off both your brother and my brother communicating and laying it down. Another couple of favorites are “My Soul’s On Fire” and the “Eleanor Rigby” both of which you are a part of.
Paul once told me a story about Little Richard – that Little Richard would strut around backstage and yell out at the band members:
“I may be a sissy – but I’m a pretty sissy!
I don’t know where you guys are located but hope that perhaps one or both of you can come up to Minneapolis for the November 15 services and celebration. I understand that there is going to be a jam session at the scene and we are going to make sure to have so great food happening too.
Great Food – that was something that was always a part of our times together – and big messes from cooking the food. If I had to name my one most favorite dish that Paul prepared – it would be his spaghetti sauce. It was better than anyone else’s always. And the food adventures that we had together – eating the worst (best) at all the best places – Johnny and Hanges, Pinks, Under the Umbrella, hot links in Watts or the Mexican place (The Michlacan? – something like that) at the bottom of the hill near his house inNE LA., and an infinite number of BR (Baskin Robbins) attacks. Our family all loved black beans and rice but Paul’s was the best and always we made it with the authentic ingredients. We also had some excellent BBQs – and home-made onion rings, homemade pizza, whatever we ate – it was always Soulfood – just like the tune from Choice Cuts – Pure Food & Drug Act!
I have the Schillinger System at my house that I got from my brother but that is just a small token of the musical influence that my brother Paul was on me. My first experience with hearing my brother play and be around musicians was in 1970 when my Dad and sister and myself went in the New York City to meet Paul and see him play with the John Mayal band at the Fillmore East. We met him at the Americana and drove down to the Fillmore where we proceeded to go backstage and met Larry Taylor and Harvey Mandel and Sugacane Harris and John Mayal (I had no idea who anyof them were at the time). They were the lead act on a bill that included J Geils, and Boz Scaggs.
A few years later, my brother was visiting Ridgewood (our home town in New Jersey) and he and I went out to a record store – we were talking music and I told him that I was an Allman Brothers fan and Yes, and Santana, and others – while at the store, we walked over to the jazz section and he pulled out “Impressions” by Coltrane and said buy this and go home and listen to it and call me. I played the album and India comes on with the distinctive bass line from the Village Vanguard set which I immediately dug but it was hard for me ti identify with the overall tune and I could not get Impressions at all. Looking back on it – he gave me a tough one to start out with – he could have started out with Coltrane and Johnny Hartman or the Duke or something like Afro Blue or Africa – so it took me a while to catch up with Impressions but once I got there – I could not get enough of it.
I did not realize this until later in life but I was primed to be a jazz fan – our family was very musically oriented; bot of our parents were heavily into music and we all got a heavy dose of show tunes and swing era music through out our lives in and out of the house. My dad was particularly into jazz but in a more traditional sense, he did not go in for the bebop, mainstream, and straight ahead sound that became a big part of our lives.
In the late 70s Paul moved down toTampa with us and stayed there for several years. He also had Moo Moo (his daughter Michelle). We really started going through the jazz then – Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, The Jazztet, Johnny Griffin, Wayne Shorter, Clifford Brown, Miles, Woody Shaw, Philly Joe (of course), and many many others – a few that need special mention that were particular favorites of Paul and mine to listen to together and study; all the Coltrane quartet, Monk (particularly Monk/Trane), Cannonball Adderley, Mingus, Bill Evans, Jimmy Smith, Charles Earland, Dizzy, Charley Parker, Jimmy Scott but of all of them I became and still am a huge fan of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers sound and of course - Coltrane.
I was able to identify with the themes being played in many of the standards we were listening to being played in a different new way because I had become so familiar with those songs through out my youth in our home. It was because of great influence of my brother and all the times and fun we had together listening to jazz that I was able to become a host of a jazz program at WMNF Community Radio (88.5 FM) in Tampa. Paul joined me on several occasions on the show where we would swing hard from beginning to end.
We did a lot of dancing and singing too! Once there was a mashed potatoes contest in our kitchen between Paul and Toni, and Peter who all thought that their version of doing the mashed potatoes was the superior method. It was when my sister Toni broke into a shing a ling followed by the Philly and a quick slide into a Watussi that she was declared the winner – for that day! The TOM TOM Club – James Brown, Stevie Wonder, the Temps, Bobby Brown, Parliament, Fantastic Voyage, Funky Nasseau - all types of funk and soul and we also used to sing a lot and break it down on the dance floor which was anywhere we were hanging at the time. Paul once demonstrated his own version of the Doctor Detroit Power Walk while we played the Title theme from the movie “Doctor Detroit”.
Mostly, we had fun and worked things out and hung out. My brother was a loyal friend and confidant.
There are many many cuts that I will always identify with my brother and the list would be very long but I will list a few:
Senor Blues, the entire Toyko Blues by Horace Silver.
Moanin, Like Someone in Love, The Blues March, High Fly, A Night inTunisia, Dat Dare – all versions by the Jazz Messengers.
Bohemia After Dark, Jeanine, – Cannon Ball Adderley
Waltz for Debbie, Minority, Peace Piece, Make Someone Happy (with Tony Bennett) – Bill Evans
Giant Steps, Afro Blue, Africa, Greensleeves, A Love Supreme, Nancey, Dear Lord, My One and Only Love and a personnel favorite of mine – Lush Life (with Johnny Hartman) – Coltrane
Well You Needn’t, Epistrophy, I Mean You, In Walked Bud, and many more Monk tunes
I will end by quoting a Hank Mobley tune that says it all when I would be hanging with my brother Paul because there was:
“No Room for Squares”!
Nicholas Lagos, P.E.