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ICON: The Jazz Scene

ORGAN-IZING: In keeping with Philadelphia’s contribution to jazz through the years, it must be mentioned that the city and surrounding areas are also known for producing some of the finest jazz organ players in history. The most famous of them all, Jimmy Smith, was born in Norristown. Joey DeFrancesco, a native Philadelphian, helped put the Hammond B-3 organ back on the map. And who can forget area natives like Richard “Groove” Holmes and Trudy Pitts? Organist Dan Fogel has been at it for a long time, despite trends and ups and downs in jazz organ popularity. And though Atlantic City fortunes are variable these days, Fogel remains a fixture at the shore. ChelseaPubandInn.com

Any book about Bird, and any book written by Gary Giddins, is important.

AND THE EUBANKS BROTHERS: The Philadelphia Eubanks Brothers—guitarist Kevin, trumpeter Duane and trombonist Robin—were back in their hometown recently to teach a master music class at the Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts. The brothers, graduates of Central and Germantown High Schools, were also honored with an EDDY Award from the Philadelphia Education Fund. The EDDYs were introduced in 2005 to recognize leaders in education as well as promising Philadelphia public school students and graduates who have excelled in their careers.

BIRD LIVES: Village Voice author/musicologist Gary Giddins tells us that his landmark 1986 book on Charlie Parker, Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker, is now updated and revised. Any book about Bird, and any book written by Gary Giddins, is important. The new edition, published by the University of Minnesota, has new material, some corrections, an additional oral history by Trummy Young, new intro, new discography, and an up-to-date bibliography. There is still much to be learned from the life and the music of Charles “Yardbird” Parker. To order and to find out more about the varied activities of Gary Giddins, visit GaryGiddins.com.

JACK’S BACK: Trumpeter Jack Sheldon is a rarity in jazz. In addition to being a top-flight trumpeter for decades, millions of non-jazzers know him via his humor, his singing, his stooging on The Merv Griffin Show, and as the star of a couple of '60s sitcoms, including the short-lived Run Buddy Run. Sheldon, who used to be a regular in the lounge of Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel, suffered a stroke two years ago, and those close to him were certain his career was over. He lost the use of his right arm and the power of speech. Our friend from Britain, Bruce Crowther, who produced the documentary Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon, has let The Jazz Scene know that Jack Sheldon is back, having learned to play the trumpet with his left hand. He’s also learned to sing and speak again, says Crowther. He just performed for two nights at Hollywood’s Catalina club before sold-out audiences. He’s not lost his sense of humor, either. Commenting on erroneous reports of his death in Jazz Times, Sheldon said, “I’m only slightly dead.”
This article is from the January 2014 edition of ICON Magazine, the only publication in the Greater Delaware Valley and beyond solely devoted to coverage of music, fine and performing arts, pop culture, and entertainment. More Information.