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Max Kaminsky

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  • David Brown
    Hello and welcome Lynn. I was very interested to read you on the great Max and wonder if you could add to your comments especially if you have impressions or
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 31, 2006
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      Hello and welcome Lynn.

      I was very interested to read you on the great Max and wonder if you could
      add to your comments especially if you have impressions or information
      beyond the autobiography which I have.

      Also did he ever discuss his records ? I'm especially interested in his
      first substantial session, the 1933 Chocolate Dandies, on which he plays
      marvellously but seems to disparage by ignoring in ' My Life In Jazz'.

      Dave



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Lynn Bayley
      To Dave and the List, My conversations with Max Kaminsky generally revolved around the late 1920s when he was briefly a part of Red Nichols groups. He
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 1, 2006
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        To Dave and the List,

        My conversations with Max Kaminsky generally revolved around the
        late 1920s when he was briefly a part of Red Nichols' groups. He
        cleared up some misinformation that had previously circulated about
        exactly when and where the Chicagoans played with Red (he admitted
        having been off a year in his autobiography, "My Life in Jazz," of
        which I have an autographed copy). He would call me up at work at
        odd times, remembering little things that were funny, though my boss
        didn't appreciate it (and neither knew nor cared who Max Kaminsky
        was)!

        I clearly remember the first time I saw him play, in the early 1970s
        at a little club in Passaic, NJ. I arrived early, and sat at a
        table nursing a drink until the playing started. Max came in, took
        off his coat, neatly hung it up, then asked the bartender where
        there was a drug store nearby - he had to have a prescription
        filled. He left and came back about fifteen minutes later. He
        looked for all the world like those little old men you see arond the
        garment district in NYC, also quite frail. I began to wonder if he
        would be able to play. I shouldn't have worried. Once he picked
        the horn up, he was transformed. It always amazed me. He went from
        being Abe Vigoda to being Hot Max in a matter of moments. Simply
        amazing. (I was reviewing the performance for a local paper. My
        opening sentence was, "Max Kaminsky is not an imposing-looking man,
        but when he puts his horn to his lips, pure gold comes out." My
        literal-minded editor - who ALSO didn't know or care who Max
        Kaminsky was - changed it to "gold APPEARS to come out." Talk about
        killing a good metaphor!)

        At the time I was conversing with him - the early 1990s - he was
        pretty old and ill and no longer playing, but he kept his sense of
        humor and was generous with his memories. The funniest story he
        told me was how he and the Chicagoans started the set under Red's
        direction, and the whole band was kind of stiff, but then Red left
        for a couple of numbers. Eddie Condon passed the weed around, and
        by the time Nichols came back, the band was swinging like mad. Red
        was astonished, until he smelled the marijuana. Then he got mad -
        dressed them down for unprofessional behavior, said they could have
        easily killed his reputation by not waiting until intermission to
        light up. Max admitted that Red was right. In his book, Max says
        it was in early 1929, but it was really early 1930. From that point
        on, the only Chicagoan Nichols would perform with was Bud Freeman.
        Condon never forgave him for that.

        Lynn
      • David Brown
        Lynn Nice. Many thanks for sharing your memories and images of Max. I regret I never heard him live as he never got a chance, in my time, to tour Europe. What
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 1, 2006
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          Lynn

          Nice. Many thanks for sharing your memories and images of Max. I regret I
          never heard him live as he never got a chance, in my time, to tour Europe.

          What sort of group was he working with in the 70s and what sort of
          repertoire ? I wonder if he was really so fond of the 'Dixie/Condon'
          warhorses or whether it was in some way a treadmill for him ?

          I always feel in him a player of wider ambition and taste.

          Also, he did not play latterly with Condon, was superseded by Bill and
          others. Did he give any indication as to why ? His decision or Condon's. Was
          there a schism ?

          Many thanks again

          Dave




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • jaykay_4444
          In the 50s Max was the trumpet and leader for some choice (i.e., well-paying) Jackie Gleason gigs, including the extravagant train ride to Florida when the
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 2, 2006
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            In the 50s Max was the trumpet and leader for some choice (i.e.,
            well-paying) Jackie Gleason gigs, including the extravagant train
            ride to Florida when the Gleason show transferred its home base to
            Florida. If you recall the playboy character Reggie Van Gleason, an
            aficiando of wine, women and Dixieland, there were several sketches
            in which Reggie summoned his trailing band onstage - five men, I
            believe, led by Max - blowing a manic "That's A Plenty" while Reggie
            dipped and shuffled until Max was signaled to cut it, at which point
            the band dashed offstage as hastily as they had run on.

            During that decade Max also appeared at the Friday and Saturday
            night jam sessions at Stuyvesant Casino, along with many other top
            players who were not working (jazz) regularly. Stuyvesant was at
            least noisy when it was not positively rowdy, and one night a
            partying group in the audience that was feeling no pain force-fed
            one of their own to Max, who was leading a pickup band at the
            moment. Though visibly unsympathetic to their cause, Max could not
            quiet them without giving in. A young lady climbed onto the stand
            and, after a one bar piano intro, sang an accelerated chorus
            of "Pretty Baby" before Max cut the number and escorted her safely
            back to her wildly cheering ensemble. Every solo he played during
            the rest of the set was responded to with enormous applause.

            That's it. Just a few fond memories of a good guy.







            --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "David Brown" <johnhaleysims@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Lynn
            >
            > Nice. Many thanks for sharing your memories and images of Max. I
            regret I
            > never heard him live as he never got a chance, in my time, to tour
            Europe.
            >
            > What sort of group was he working with in the 70s and what sort of
            > repertoire ? I wonder if he was really so fond of
            the 'Dixie/Condon'
            > warhorses or whether it was in some way a treadmill for him ?
            >
            > I always feel in him a player of wider ambition and taste.
            >
            > Also, he did not play latterly with Condon, was superseded by Bill
            and
            > others. Did he give any indication as to why ? His decision or
            Condon's. Was
            > there a schism ?
            >
            > Many thanks again
            >
            > Dave
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • Lynn Bayley
            My impression was that he enjoyed swing and some of the advanced post- war swing, and so wanted to play some of that, though as he mentioned in his bio, he was
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 2, 2006
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              My impression was that he enjoyed swing and some of the advanced post-
              war swing, and so wanted to play some of that, though as he mentioned
              in his bio, he was personally unhappy playing the same charts over and
              over and over again with Tommy Dorsey.

              When I heard him, he was in the kind of post-swing Chicago-style group
              that Pee Wee Russell played in 20 years earlier (the 1950s), but it was
              very enjoyable, and he was naturally a real jazz musician in that he
              was always looking for new improvisations. I doubt that he was capable
              of playing something the same way twice, at least not consciously so.

              Lynn
            • drjazztb
              Max played what today s trumpet players only hint at...occasionally, and that s the melody. Side men who have performed with him say that playing ensembles was
              Message 6 of 6 , Aug 7, 2006
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                Max played what today's trumpet players only hint at...occasionally,
                and that's the melody. Side men who have performed with him say that
                playing ensembles was a pleasure because of that. This in contrast to
                trumpet players playing eveyone else's notes but their own.
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