Jazz journey by Ian Doherty

Jazz came to me via Kim Bonython on ABC radio when I was a teenager in Brisbane. It’s still a big part of my life more than fifty years later. I was in Budapest for the first time in November 2013. My great desire was to go to the Benko Dixiland Jazz Club. Because Freddie Hubbard played there in 1987. If you like ballads, see the YouTube of him playing ‘Autumn Leaves’ at the Benko. The good Dr Benko still plays. At the desk, the lady with no English pulled out our tickets and thrust them towards us with the question ‘Australian?’ Our emails had worked!

My first girlfriend – I visited her in Sydney when I was 17 – had an uncle who worked for RCA. He gifted me some LPs in need of a loving owner. Duke Ellington discs were in there and so I met the NY Subway and the A Train up to Sugar Hill in Harlem, the C Jam Blues – The Duke’s Place, when lyrics were added – and much more. For three minutes and four seconds of good-natured fun with men in big hats, watch them play ‘C Jam Blues’ via YouTube at the Harlem Cats Eatery – No Credit Given to Strangers – in 1942. It will delight you and allow you to put smiling faces to the names of many front men in that year’s Ellington band.

My final word for this post invokes a trip on the A, departing Swing alighting finally at Cool, pausing at Bebop along the way.

The Duke’s on the A Train
Up to Harlem
C Jam Blues

Next stop
Charlie Parker

Bird is flying
On the chords unwinding

Milestones pending
Cool, smooth ending.

And the Duke’s on the A Train.