Transcript:

Speaker Streetdance will start poetry and then prose.

Speaker I was born in Mississippi in the year of 1910. We moved up to Chicago and I never got back again. Now I've played with Cam and Louie with dark and stretched on to where prayers and Clarke and Daisy and there'll be more. Before I went through, I even jam with Benny Goodman with Basic Duke. I too in England would be in Krosby and the Middle East with Pearl in 1939. I met Mona first, my bride, and nothing's been the same ever since we fell in love. She blew my mind to the Murray. Then she went shopping. And I've been broke ever since. Now I even work with Jackie Gleason. I play rage with Huey Blake. I've been to the White House many times and that's icing on the cake. I even saw with Freddie Colbert. And time for him to know I'm the oldest bass player standing. I got shoes as old as you, but I've had a wonderful time when I was in my prime. Now I'm getting tired. I think I should go back home. Bo bo. Bo, bo wudu.

Speaker Tell me about your family.

Speaker Oh, yeah. Well, Chicago was a magnet for black people in the South. It was a center of the United States back in the 20s because before airlines, there are several railroads that ran to Chicago, all the big packing houses for Nita's degrees stockyards. It was in Chicago. All of the businesses were held there, which Andi's mark was there. All businesses were here. There's a railroad. The Santa Fe Railroad ran from Chicago to California and a 20th century railroad went from Chicago to New York. So even if you wanted to go to California, you had to change trains in Chicago to get there. It would take you almost a week traveling by train. So consequently, most businesses were held there, too, in New York, said even in Chicago and people in California. Seventy one in Chicago. So there was all these big business businesses being negotiated there. And the biggest and the most popular hotels in the country. Name Hotel. The Edgewater Beach, the Palmer House, the Stephens College here. All these great hotels were there and they needed a tremendous amount of unskilled labor, which black folks had. And they found that the living conditions were better in Chicago and the less prejudiced, less bisnis. So people were champ. You were trying to get to Chicago, the next generation of ministers in the churches in the South with preaching to that to to their congregation. There's no hope for you here, which seem if you can get your children out of this part of the country and have a better chance of an education kind of change. There was this great exodus to Chicago. People from New Orleans were coming up the river. Both Chakiris Chris and none of those boats were coming off the Mississippi River into St. Louis and then they Hanoi and all into Chicago. St. Louis was one stop in all place. You've got to be good in St. Louis and you're trying to make the Chicago appeal from Texas were making it to Kansas from Cairns into Kansas City. Consequently, there was a western town where they were here about Chicago. If you did good in Kansas City, then you could make it in Chicago, because now Chicago has got all these white people that are doing very well.

Speaker Wade Capstan and porters in the hotels and whatnot. We've got a whole section of the town covered. The South Side was one big street and ran race straight through Chicago from downtown three straight through to the south side. It was called Grand Boulevard. All of the big houses, the corner here, all the median, asking these palatial homes on it. On this street. It was called Grand Boulevard. And when black people begin to move in there, they change the name to South Parkway because there is not too grand anymore.

Speaker And the people that are armies of the people, black people of means, they begin to get some good work and gets a quality somebody. Well, mostly black women, because black women role where black women were straightening their hair. So couple of ladies in invented some kind of a concoction that she called you put in your hair the streak straight, trying to be more like white people and all every black woman in America was was using this, too. So these two ladies, one lady's name was Hannibal. She still revered in in Saint Louis. She had a headquarters in St. Louis. Natalie, there was Martin Walker had a hit walk headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. And he taught young, young black girls cosmetology, how to straighten hair, how to work with cosmetics. And so these people were the ones that really face had a lot of money. And they began to buy these big homes, these palatial homes that the billionaires were moving out of there. And the change in Navon for when boulevard, the south walkway. And the people from Alabama moving into Chicago, people from Mississippi, A in Chicago. Now we get all of these wonderful jobs every by one nice apartment buildings here. And we got our own kind of we want our own kind of music. So we send our south and now we get closer. We get we get there. Cimino, we get the king out of. We get Bill Johnson. It's very corporate. The town is bustling with these wonderful musicians. There's a nightclub called the Rock Garden. Ethel Waters bought the Rose Garden. That's where we also want to know rock and blues because he was playing in this club. So it was just great. Now, all of the great white bands were in Chicago because all these great white hotels were there. So you got Ben Paulette's, you got Bill Bernanke, you got four Weidemann, you got all these great white bands in Chicago. And the rule says to rational whites came and played together. But that's in Kwolek. But we always appreciate visual for our individual. So after hours and the rehearsals, we also run jammed together. Why? She could go in and play. So when he finished in the great white hotels downtown, the black nightclubs, the small nightclubs, he went to three or four o'clock in the morning. The guys would come up to come up to these places and they would see jam and it would change ideas. Black musician would get some great academic ideas from white musician and white musicians and get some very great creativity ideas from black musicians. So we know each other, even though the rules say that we could not play the year. There was this great respect for each other.

Speaker Yeah, sure. Yeah, well, my father was just was one.

Speaker I just had to move the mike for once.

Speaker Hi. Well, my father was just one of the myriad of black families moving my my grandmother, my mother's mother was a slave of who was born a slave of Joe Davis. Jefferson Davis father was president of the South and she wouldn't. After the Emancipation Proclamation, she took the name of the overseer of the plantation whose name was Cora. So her name was headed Lady Carter after emancipation. And she married a man and had a couple of horses named Matt Robinson. So it was heavily the Carter Robinson. And this man was a very industrious young fella. He had a couple of horses and he he kept what we call a hack to drive people of white people around the taxi. Tiger Woods, well, bogey and then horses. And he made a very good living at this. They had 13 children and the last one born five months after my grandfather was dead. And he can imagine that the tribulation and challenged generations will back moment that many children, most of which dad in early age, trying to make it in the south. But my grandmother was a tavolini could really do this. She worked for a Jewish family named Bear and they gave a kind of blanche to cook and wash nine, do everything for them, buy enough food for them. And she quit. She khushi for fish, enough for her children's also.

Speaker And then they would come out to the back door and get the food and take it home along with the dirty clothes and put out in the back yard and wash it.

Speaker And she thought of the idea of asking this man if he she could put a little stain upside outside of his store for people coming to work in the morning. He would like a cup of coffee, so she'd made coughers. Our salary was three dollars and fifty cents a week. And she she got to stand outside and she made coffee, made biscuits and had some jelly. And she said to biscuits and a cup of coffee for a nickel. And she owned within her salary for that. And she grew to be a hundred, three years old. I was in Cab Calloway's band who she died. So I got first hand information about what slavery was like and what emancipation was like. She is a lady for me, a piece. So anyway, this is what my friend was like. The boys in their family had no chance in education.

Speaker My mother was the only one of the children that had any chance of education. And to this very day, I regret that I never asked my grandmother how she got a piano. But working for this man who had a department store, evidently she convinced him to let her get a piano because we had a house with two rooms and a kitchen in it. But there was a piano and a house and my mother learned how to play piano and she had to be organist of the church where this minister was preaching make an exodus out of the south with your young people in the powers that be heard.

Speaker And he was making this the sort of species church on Sunday. And they ran him out of town. And he as I said before, it was it were they didn't that black male leave town because he wanted that black labour where women could leave. So they ran his minister out of town. He took my mother with him, is always his of his church. And he came to Chicago, my uncle, which I have mentioned before. You are very much in that together, how he worked for this white barbershop and even in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1910.

Speaker Why people didn't have bathtubs and ran and won and their homes. People came down to the barbershop on Saturday and Sunday to take Bess. Twenty five cents. You could get to a hot tub towel and a razor. And so this was a case with no self-respect in a white barber would work on Sunday being Christian like he would not work. So he'd left a barber shop in charge or the poorer he was told. Now you keep them tubs clean, keep their water hot, keep those razor-sharp in charge.

Speaker And folks, 25 cents apiece in your come in one day. You give me the money. Of course. When? Monday morning when the boys showed up. Welcome. If you saw 40 bansi to every so fifteen tips. Twenty five fifty for himself stashed away.

Speaker So he'd heard from some of his friends in Chicago that things were granted. He was making 5000 purchases a week in his barber shop and he had one of his friends was working in the stockyards in Chicago, making thirty dollars a week. He could take a loan to meet he wanted, so he had to contrive some kind of way to get to Chicago. So he wrote and have some money in Memphis, Tennessee, the van and the fake letters sent to him in Mississippi and he took to his boss, said that he had an aunt in Memphis, Tennessee, that was very sick and she was dying and she wanted to see her nephew before she died.

Speaker And his boss read the letter and said, well, if you got some money. Yes, sir. You see where I take you down to the railroad station because a black man could not go down to the railroad station and buy a ticket. He would that they would not sell anyone but his boss take him down with fifteen to the Four Corners and he confiscated it, bought him a round trip ticket to Memphis. It was nineteen eighty in the year I was born. He told me, get you. Going to Chicago and you go to Memphis to see your aunt and you come home back here when you get to Memphis. He sold all I have for that ticket and keep all the Chicago get him on. Good job is wonderful. And he goes back to his brothers to see if he can find some way to get out of there. My mother's gone already and left me in Mississippi with my grandmother, my uncles.

Speaker So now my mother is in Chicago with his minister and my two uncles and they're working very well. So they get an apartment and advice and furniture and it takes a flutist. It takes a long time. I was working in a hotel. He's put in a hotel. And I said this. This is all a business being. A sales were all coming in this hotel and he's he's clean up. He's making 25 or 30 dollars a day because he is he supported the hotel. One of traveling salesman should check in a hotel he checks in the first day he was there. Was there any girls around? Well, there are girls in a hotel already there a for their services. And so he put the salesman says to the poorer, you get me a good girl, I give you a tip. The girls are already stashed in a hotel and they've already instructed the porter. Give me a good job and I give you a tip. So he puts them together and he gives it to gets a nice tip. And when they get together, the first thing they want is any subject. Something to drink. He's got some better Jennys made in a basement of the hotel. He goes down and said, I'm a part of Poulenc whiskey for five dollars and he's making very good money. So he invited us for posting some clothes and it were a nice apartment and fresh. But now this is from 98 tick from 1910 to 1918. To accumulate enough to send for the old folks is short.

Speaker And that's my grandmother and I and my mother's younger sister, which was just a few years old. And that was, what, 1918, when we finally made the exodus from Mississippi on one of those ships to Chicago. And then she told us, we look so very bad when they got there, they put us in a cab right away and took us home so they could clean this up and take us for Tsavo. So it was there in Chicago that I really got a chance to see it and grew up there. And this news in this new environment and see all these other people, there is one high school on the south side of Chicago. And all of these black people are there and they have all very much concern with their young people that this is a first generation. We are the first generation of young black kids. If people had really striving to see that we had a chance today's occasion and put us in a position where we can get the education and the schools and on the south side, Chicago were absolutely marvelous. They were integrated, there was integrated faculty, and everybody was very much concerned with you, with your learning and our paths nationally. They were really concerned. And if my mother had stopped her work to come to school, see about me, I was in deep trouble. So was that 011 when it was interfer learning and doing things. I know my mother was my mother was really a no frills lady. She's organist of a church and she determined that I would have some kind of decent career in line. She's a piano. She taught piano. And she did some little classes on the side for some of tutoring thing. And she played for the shows and she taught this piano and she tried to get me interested in piano. And she found like I have found me. Haven't sure it's very difficult to teach your own children. You can't tell when they go to bed, when they get home. So she was having a very difficult time with me. And she had another young boy. There was there was a son of one of the ministers whom she played with. His name was that Daniel Cole, Nat Cole. And he was a nice kid. He was just one of the nicest young men you wanted to be. And I was always having problems with my mom arguing. And she would say to me, why can't she be nice like Nathaniel? Of course, that is said to me, and I didn't really like that at all. Even though I was older.

Speaker So classic.

Speaker Explain about how you're starting to play as that. Did you play because your mother couldn't teach you, did you? Did you start studying some other way? How did you pick up. You were studying. Yeah.

Speaker Well, my mom was determined that I would really have a lot of stuff musically because our house was. We had our own appear in a neighborhood choir rehearsals here at our house. And she was teaching these young people in that I didn't see too much interest in piano. And she was determined. So she sent me to a violin teacher, Professor James Johnson, a wonderful man. And I loved him very much. He was just the nicest person that could possibly be. I loved him and he helped me a great deal.

Speaker And I bidvest greatly with music and violin. And that's 1923, July 18, 1923, to face value medicine. And then I heard that the Gene Elam's Holthouse, if kids could go on the west side of Chicago on Saturday afternoon and get lessons for taste for 25 cents a lesson. And this way I would go every Saturday. And that's where first time I remember seeing Benny Goodman, he was there with his brothers and sisters and has Benny.

Speaker And then we all played a little violin and did things together there. And then 19, 20 now doing well, weren't in 1929 with my father. I'd get enough to explain. I'd a couple scholarships, Housecleaner Milsons Concert and a minor in 1929. I believe this is this year. Al Jolson made the free sound movie.

Speaker And before that, ever, ever to play in a neighborhood in our around town had had violin players and a piano, a German, a violin to play to the start to the silent movie. Every neighborhood so violently as a rabbit. Everybody was in play. Vardaman The big things had violins in big offices and then south side Chicago where I lived. We had this wonderful orchestra core which can take solace, a good musician and his mom was awesome. All these great musician, the great A.D.s valiantly was playing in there. Barnaby God was a clarinet player in there. Louis Armstrong was a trumpet played Jimmy Butcher on a great show I was playing in this election in our parish. You take us every Sunday to this theatre to hear these wonderful musicians.

Speaker And they were after the movie was over, they were over the overture like Port and Pearson and these musicians were played very dignified in their tuxedos, which is very inspiring to a young black child. And then after the overseer, Louis, also would stand up and sing a song or phrase, something which just magnificent. So this is my introduction into here and this kind of music and my mother's this inspired me to keep continue this. Now, I was also, Mrs. Musallam, the sound move with this jazz singer every day. Now, we don't need a sound. We don't need an Nevada play Israeli music in the theaters because the sound is on the screen. Every violently lost a job in my neighborhood. And all I know about is the black violin is all lost their jobs.

Speaker The nightclothes only had New Orleans nightclubs. The guys had clarinets and saxophones and trumpets, but no violence to any extent. These were just there were small clubs, five, four and five peace groups in these places, only one big club. We hear there was a grand tears which came later, I'm told, by 1929. And so now I'm seeing all of the black violin players lose their jobs. And I'm just about really to get interested and do this. I mean, but he had some notion that high and high school would have a movie. And I had the band and I've got my classmates to show you why. Milton was president of the symphony orchestra and now a leader of a boost. So they played for the silent movie. I had a little book to show bountifully when something was, say, Agnone, something the Cowboys ran. All of this gone to Novia now. And I wonder where am I going to do so in high school, where this wonderful teacher meeting and Clark Smith, a great Murchie man, was teaching band. And I joined the band because I wanted to play courtships for the football team. And I tried to a bass horn and I want to wish bass player ever. I played the bass horn and I began to get interested. Nine big things, bass, bass, horn, and I kind of bass vanished from school, having to practice on a bass violin. When I didn't really play it, I had no lessons at once and I delivered newspapers that would play my way in school. My next play, I delivered 200 papers every morning in Chicago. Chicago Herald Examiner and one drop of 100 papers and a New Zealander. And over the next place he'd be another 100. And that took up my morning. And that was nagger nine dollars and twenty five cents a week for that which was six and wanted to help my mother with nine months of sustaining and my less well.

Speaker So now one and she having around with this bass, violin and one salary I have to do well I guess all of all of these violently.

Speaker Of disappeared and a man named Huey Swith and society like Black Van, played in a place called Jefferey Tavern in Chicago in his bass player, didn't show up and survives. He will get the kid. And that was my first job. I went to work with his band and my reading music was no problem because I was always great with reading music, because coming from Valerie Plame Wilson's stuff and walk this over, I had no problem with a baseball at all. So all I did was learn where to find and hold solidly. So I got the job and I worked in his van. I made nineteen dollars for one night. That blew my mind. I was done that since this. Nineteen twenty seventh. Thirteen and five was six, seven, 60, 70 years old. Something is now.

Speaker Let's go back and talk about specific stories about how we know or what it was like.

Speaker No, no, no.

Speaker These were lessons, violin lessons on the violin players will be on a caniff is all here, but it will leave rooms there. But there was a first this was a phrase, Shannon, integration, because black kids and white kids were there together. We didn't play in August in that single orchestra again.

Speaker First, this is my fourth shot in integration because black kids and white kids were there for music, this were twenty. And this is what the whole house, which is over a hundred and seven years old to this very day. They were one of the first places that took any poor kids, had a desire to want to.

Speaker To want to learn something. And so it was there that first chance was so white kids and black kids working together in classes would not we didn't play in or in our form of an orchestra. I was taking violin lessons, my first violin lessons, the scales. And that's in the piano players. Well, we were the clarinet teacher in the summer plays well. We were the trumpet teacher. Well, not as a best man. It was only until I got to high school. Not that I'm in high school where I was before, where I'm playing in the band and I'm president of the symphony at my high school, which is our night and not in four wonderful, wonderful sent black student body white kids. And the to that school were kids whose parents hit stores or something in their neighborhood. So there was like less than one percent of them there.

Speaker But with the fact that he was angry. One for teachers and very sincere.

Speaker That was when you were both in high school.

Speaker Well, now I'm in high school and they are twenty three high schools in Chicago there.

Speaker In those years, 1927, 1926, 27, 28.

Speaker And every year, the bands will all need in a band contest band festival at Dodger Stadium at Northwestern University in eastern Illinois. And each band would perform a special piece at the end of all of these two that I don't know whether there was any award. I don't remember us winning the award, but his band perform in a deal that we all lined up in Mass. It was a big platform there and his port legitimate in a virtual uniform.

Speaker John Philip Sousa would come up and conduct us all in his himself in The Star-Spangled Banner was to see the bands at 25, 30 guys in his band. I could see somebody given that I knew him from Cevat Whorehouse. He's over in this band. I think I saw Gene Krupa. I'm not sure.

Speaker I think I saw Gene Krupa in a van over there. I know in my band was Netco was too young when he's older by apical very fine violent bass, flat of hair and a very fine bass horn player was in our van. And we played and it was like that thing.

Speaker And the only other time that we had anything like an integration as far as playing together was two very special kids from each high school board of Education in Chicago would pick from each high school. They have the most talented players. At the end of the semester and put us together in an orchestra down in the hall and Frederick stopped the conductor. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra put put us together in a performance of classical performers of some piece.

Speaker It was a Finlandia submit is one of submitted his pieces and put us together in the orchestra. And these were black and white kids like he's in there with kids from my high school choir, kids in our high schools. And we play together. And when house about two or three weeks together for a concert which was given by world education and all our parents could come and see their favorite children perform. This was when we play in the bass section I played with. I played once in one semester. I played in there and the violence I played in three years in a row, which was kind of unusual when I think somebody effectively thought I was so talented. One year before she I play the violin player. The second year I was there, I played as a cello player. And the very last year I was very was here when I was 16 or 17. I was interested in these and I played in the bass session. And I remember we did Finlandia, you know, when I didn't see that I was aware of. But there was a black and white there was there because in the bass section eight basis was six, six boys and two girls. I was the only black bass player. But the most interesting thing, if I could make mention about it, was because it was it made all the difference to the world in my career. There was a man named Henry C. Lydon. I want a big department store in Chicago for me. I'm called a department store and he was president of the Chicago Businessmen. Simple. He was very much can say. He sent me to the Chicago Institute, a better site. And they corrected my eyes and I never wore glasses again until I was past 50 years old.

Speaker Let's let's jump down to where you were in the Freestore you were talking about Chicago and then develop Chicago on the South Side and jazz music growing up. Milkins is this proposition. When did you start going to the south side? You heard Louis Armstrong cheated with your parents. When did you start going on your own?

Speaker And if you can tied into it, you see any.

Speaker When you when you first start to see the awesome.

Speaker Well, I've never seen what else am I getting out to you about it? If I may.

Speaker Well, isn't Kid Odean. Did you. Did the whole house. Can I see Vinnie because he lived on. No. He lived on the West Side and I lived on the south side. He was in that neighborhood. So I didn't see Vinnie again until nineteen.

Speaker Nineteen twenty nine, I graduated from high school. Any sounds a great violinist was in Europe playing for the Rothschilds. Had been a great year when the violin presented in this great orchestra version TE. How is his mother's newspaper boy delivered newspapers everyday in Chicago? His mother was one of my was Omar. S mother was on my route and I saw his pictures on a warrant. He's great, my friend, his mother said. That's my son. And your musician as he. Yes. Matches you. My son's in you for assault one day. We have you play with him. Well, by 1930, our big credit strike is a bass player now beginning to get these shops and things. And I'm delivered newspapers still deliver newspapers and find a. Somebody said that there South was gone. They were going to get NASA come back to Earth from Europe and they were thinking of putting him well as society, bad black society, bad in one of the great white hotels, which was thinking of beginning of something marvelous.

Speaker So he had an agent and he was still in Europe. His agent organized a van and got Charles, the other great violin player that had 20 T. S. A magnificent German named Olga from New Orleans. We've contemplated not doing West. Nabokov's volunteered to BU, the organizer Augusta, for T. S plan with violins and trombones and bass. And we organize a voice for two or three weeks playing beautiful things like dancing on a seed and in body and soul and praying for a class. Nice music, you know. And the agent signed us up the contracts to pay us seventy five dollars a week yanti in us. Forty weeks out of the year. What this was like a dream come true. And here I am working with NASA, came back in town and we rehearsed with him now. He brought back with him a pianist and a guitar. And himself to admit to Steve. This band. And get the band together, the powers that be in Chicago said it was too soon. They couldn't have a black man in a white hotel downtown and he or any of his Asian side, all his musician, have to pay them and get contracts. So now they get to buy the contracts back.

Speaker And you give everybody three hundred dollars for for their contract was broke any sound and his manager said when he got to the base, players didn't give me say, look, we can work with a small quoted in one of the jazz rooms. We will have a bass player. So don't give the bass player three hundred dollars. Give him the job. So they got a job downtown where the gangster Al Capone had a fight. He had a club called a Club Rubaiyat, a very small club where all the gangsters came to see it. Senior. Less than one hundred and only get.

Speaker So instead of me getting three hundred dollars, I got a job. Megan, there's a club, a small club that the boys just like using the word gangs because young were beautiful. We looked on the wall as Robin Hood.

Speaker They had a special club that they had where they had their own in the team when they came to have wine and sit around and talk a very small club on the north side in Chicago called the Rubaiyat. And you're putting any south area with this with three or four pieces standing Wilson on guitar, half so small and on piano. Multiton on bass and any south of Adam.

Speaker And he was a heavy D in my life because you were to play with this magnificent violinist. And I had studied violin myself. And he taught me so much about how to compete. And I've had to work my violin to to my bass. And we played all kinds of marvelous things, classical music, everything, waltzes and everything. Now, this club was on the north side. There was a nightclub nightclub, a big white nightclub right near there. My Jacobsen's somebody. But between pollen's band was there in the in this club. This is in addition in the white district with one bank where we are no black. Vegas is all here except where these gangsters get this little girl. The boss was worried that went to Al Capone's lieutenant, which I knew there was any Pappin. And it was a nice club. No, nothing. But the boys came in there, but it's right near. And then in addition, downtown in Chicago, where all the great white clubs are being burned, it was in one club at the Coliseum. His. His.

Speaker You've got to.

Speaker All these nightclubs, right or wrong here. Ben Bruno was at a college in his musical director, was a man named Dexter Beil, saxophone player, and this appeals father was a violinist. So addictive would bring when Bernie and his father were the he and his wonderful A.D.s. So I got to hear the other band being part of the band was in another nightclub. And he had all these great musicians, too. Gene Krupa was in that band. Benny Goodman was in that band. Jante God was in there and they all knew and he? S been agreed violently and he came here to sell. So now we get a chance to hear me play and I'm doing all my academics have to have that steady. McClosky Laskin I've learned and we all know intermission. Then you come over to hear us. And then this is how quaintness got in late at night where we all fish. We would go up to the south side, back up and we call it not Harlem and then south side of Chicago to hear Jimi. No. And he appoints Miller. And he had Louis. He had Louis Armstrong was playing in these places. So this was a vehicle for us down there in his geisa place. Nas, I said. And in the meantime, Al Capone had open of a cotton club and Cicero kind of has all black musicians. So all of my other friends, my my my peers from the South Side were working in Al Capone's Cotton Club. It was a nice guy to work for. He was a Robin Hood. His brother Ralph was an animal. I've got to work for him in one of their clubs after leaving itself. When I worked in this club, when A.D.s, the Rubaiyat and we all got so popular and all of white musicians came to hear us and know us and see us and we associate hung out together, we made a mission until 1933. 1933, they had a national Democratic Convention in Chicago at the Congress Hotel. That's a convention that nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for president. So at this convention, they decided, after all this time from 1930 in San Juan. Now, maybe it'd be nice to put A.D.s in this white hotel. So they put us in the lobby in a visceral far, went to flowers in Woodbridge, put a black one around, and we played as the delegates came in for the National Democratic Convention.

Speaker And that was the one that nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for president.

Speaker When you're going down to the south side. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker Hear stories that you and you particularly we talked about.

Speaker You got to know just to give us a feeling.

Speaker No. And I can't I can't tell from that scene. From that scene. I can give you another another another way. But the association with another white musician, I've reached the category of where I'm in with guys like Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Noone and people because I'm with Eddie South and they're there on the south side.

Speaker We will have on Sunday morning, Saturday night, Sunday morning, then south side and his neck, because we have call a breakfast dance. That means you played all night, went on to almost noon the next day. So all of the white musicians from downtown will come off town and then have breakfast and still have jam session and we trade courses.

Speaker And this is how we played and jammed together and that sort of thing.

Speaker I can't tell you any specific time that I could really, but I can also tell you that by 1930. Nineteen thirty three after the Democratic convention.

Speaker I'm still in Chicago and I'm playing with Teddy Wilson, Kate Johnson, trombone player and.

Speaker It was then I can win.

Speaker Who else? We we'll have a little small band, we'll play together and we'll do it green. Have had some good players and good players, and we really enjoy playing. And John Hammond came through Chicago and heard Terry Wilson and Terry Wilson is from Texas. He had Bagley from teaching the kids in Chicago and Terry Wilson fans like my parent Mike, Grandma, his mom, his history. Both of his parents were college professors they taught and asked for in college in Austin. So, Terry, a much more academic than most of us black kids, had come from that kind of family. So this is what's right here. And because I had some academic has done it, we enjoy playing together because we had something in common. And then came just in. This show fails also from Texas and his brother, buddy, also the saxophone player. So we begin to play the guitar and John Hamako and he comes in New York and we record is gonna be there. And John Hammond tells Billy Carter about this young piano player is marvelous in Chicago. And they kind of sense for Teddy Wilson, it will clear he was not. New York is beginning to get a little jealous. Jeff Richie Henderson has made his hero there, but they're not having a jazz like Chicago. They hated having the shows. QB Blake and them had those black shows blackbirds naturally. So there's more theatrical in New York City for blacks in Chicago and then the New York the Savoy borrow. But Chicago, we had all these great jazz going on on the south side, so many corners. It is a Catalyst's an event. It's like that FXE innocently that he hasn't been ICARDA and Don Redman, a good bandleader's McKinney can pick as a tour. So any kind of sense for.

Speaker Yeah, well, I'll just have to tell you how we got together. It was the match up to Benny Goodman. If I know you're in a hurry, I can only I can only tell it one way. The way it is. The way it is.

Speaker And this is a gospel truth. So tell me. Yes. New York. And he does very well with very Connor and Ben Cardin is a trombone player. So he recommends Kate Jackson, Umphrey within in Chicago and very Constance for Kate Garza. Well, I'm glad to see that's 1930. Then before we get started here.

Speaker I never heard it before. And I always get to switch time and work on time or.

Speaker They can't touch you. Here's what I want to achieve any cookies anybody can send for me. Nobody sends for me. Taylor Wilson is there. My friend Kate Johnson, my great best friend agencies. He gets with Benny Carter, Cab Calloway. He's a trombone. 1934, Kay Johnson gets a job with Kay in Cab Calloway's band. And Cab Calloway, 1935, Cab Calloway comes to California to do a movie with Al Jolson, the Syrian kid and his bass player, which I tell you is such a magnificent bass player. That was my idol, Val Morgan. And he was such a great job on his movie with Cab Calloway and Al Jolson that the director of the movie said, if you were in New in California every time we did a jazz movie, you would have the job. So Elmo Morgan, the bass player, were Cab Calloway quit and stayed in California. And Cab Calloway is going to come back east now without a bass player. And my friend Kig Jazz is 1935. Now, my kid, my friend Kate Johnson. Those aren't the only ones left in Chicago. They had been. He says when go to Chicago, check Milt Hinton out. So that's how I get the job with Cab Calloway. Then now when I come to New York Kafka, not rted Benny Goodman, John King is convinced Benny Goodman to use Teddy Wilson, which is the first black musician hired in a white van. Wilson Then it was meant to help John Hammond. And he's my friend from Chicago. He gets in there and then Nigel Hampton gets in there. And then I went in the high school band in Chicago together. So all we all want is they would be given to the Pennsylvania hotel and would Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club. And I animation's at the same time at night. Every night we get them free shows, 88, ninth to 10 would like to go back to 11:00. We break in eleven o'clock and we get together and we go to officer second sheet and drink beer and jam and people invite us for jam session and various recording session. My also star. Nah, I'm just a bass player now and as I started it was a star. So now Neil gets a record date. I'm on a record date. I get it down. Really. Taylor Wilson gets a contract to record for Columbia for Billie Holiday. I'm his bass player. If I'm in town, that's where you find me on the recordings of Billie Holiday. If I was in town until Wilson was in town, I wouldn't I wouldn't get the job if I was out of town with Cab Calloway. You hear it? You see John Kirby, many other bass players. This is how the relationship now Benny Goodman knows me because I'm from Chicago. We know one another all these years. He no like his brothers. Basically, Harry is not a favorite. Basically, they fight all the time. I know Harry Goodman will have a big bass. That was deep. And it spoke what we call spine. Maybe would Freeman then. I don't know. But nobody ever do that summer. We can't go for him.

Speaker OK, so. Yeah. So Ben is at the Pennsylvania Hotel and I'm at the Cotton Club with Kevin Naturelle. I'm making these recordings with Dr. Lanier on the side and Terry Wilson. And I know Benny and Benny, make sure we can recall your hair has got this big bass in the speech, league pitching. And Benny Goodman is always right on time. I don't money my Tilpa very particular, but it's Chip Waterboys, basically. And he really zeroed in on the area and up to where he lives. And you've got him now, you know, and yeah, I see high bases to be speaking live. And I can tell you how many recordings I've made. Did not compare his name, his owner. They've been it five. Haven't seen him home and have me come down and make the recordings.

Speaker It won't be any government made that when they made the Benny Goodman story, Khalifah. I was working with Terry Wilson to CBS.

Speaker We are still called Terry Wilson on a Saturday afternoon show, Jones, Charlie Wilson and myself. And we had a guest each night, each day with a concert.

Speaker We had a guest, Sir Charles Shavers. Without some cannot play with a guest.

Speaker And we had this show not going to make Billy Widow story and make and this show was a great show. Coast to coast show where we do it very. We're happy with it. And what have you in the Benny Goodman story. And it got to have Terry Wilson any good. Very good. Mr.. So, Theresa, virtually any negotiated and get out. Fabulous place to leave the show. CBS didn't like it because he left the show. We blew we lost the gig. Terry Wilson with the California to do the Benny Goodman story. So, yes, out there. And Benny Goodman, they ignited. Going to record the music. Benny Goodman, sense for me to come to record the music to the Benny Goodman story. He calls me on the phone. I say, well, what surprised me, Benny Goodman offered me six hundred dollars to come to California to do that record.

Speaker I'm not going to be in a particle's. I can't be his brother, but I'm going to make the soundtrack for six. And I'm doing great with records. They say to this very day that I've made more records on bass in India. Basically, I live in a dead I to make two records every day.

Speaker I think you've got to be kidding. 600 bucks. I couldn't give up, so I didn't go on. I wouldn't make it. Joyce, the video was out there with Lena Horne. He was basically with Lena Horne and he was already in California and Georgia. V.V. is a bass player on the soundtrack of the Benny Goodman story.

Speaker Let's go back to the record here.

Speaker No, I remember now I it's nothing special, but I remember the sessions when I would I would come down and more than once, Victor, 24 story.

Speaker How did you get a phone call?

Speaker Your phone call? I stopped recording your big fight and he called me. I'd come in. Go on and make a date.

Speaker Thirty dollars? Yep, thirty dollars is what the price was in those days. Thirty dollars for three hours.

Speaker And I worked on it many times since I was here, had a way with very black men. We respected each other. Always he always respected my musicianship and I always respected him. He even called me to come to his house right away. I see Ralph ego painting. I don't know why. Whatever. I don't care. He's got a whole lot of money. I'm raised in the money. But I'm going to get paid for whatever I do. I insist on that. And he sometimes say, well, how much you want, you know? And he would pay me. But we respected each of them eternally for average. And we would we liked each other cause we could go back and talk about guys that we knew back in those days. And he would ask me because he didn't keep in touch, as you see from when I'm telling you here. I keep in touch with people. And what was going on? He. Oh, yeah, I see what you mean. Red sign as a joke out of Chicago and rumbly. Oh yeah. Was is to us. Oh, man.

Speaker He died three years ago and we talk about different guys. And whenever I would work with him, I'd rather live in a car because we can sit down and we can rehash and we talk about things which was always difficult to make it, to get him to go to war and negotiate my price. So I did a few things with a few television shows. And one particular one I remember is my ribs issue. Zoot Sims v. Green. You shoot it and Don Lemon, we got to do it for CBS television show.

Speaker And all for the all the four guys I just knew, we were all pretty good by drinking and having a few drinks. So he'd been in this. So we were going to have just rehearsal. We went to rehearsal for the television show and we had a great, great to come back from break for just rehearsal. We were. We went to Human Resources, a Warren, all for musicians at that time. And we are really lowden's, you know, we get frigging good networks. So we couldn't play, but we will get a little bodacious in a little more spoke in our stage where he wasn't being given, you know, he was just a clarinet player. So he'll be. He knows it. So we have all these days. Get ready for a dress rehearsal. And Venezuela's Clerides standing in front of me. That's a very.

Speaker I see. Well, you move over, please. I cover Kayseri and Billy moves over. Then. What does he tell? He moves back. Well, I. Ask him to move or he actually moved over with anything. Wasn't gattoni by any move back, but it was the altercation of I was just that kind of thing.

Speaker And I mentioned about he was always kind of a loner guy. When did he come to rehearsal? One of the last times I think I played with he was at the White House with. President Reagan was president and he had the king of Jordan came in for a state dinner and he was asked to. Fraction that was more or less the demanded get the treatment for President Reagan, for the White House and the Ezekiel's John would immediately be like any city like jazz.

Speaker So, Franco. Many would call it even those it ever negotiate something. We're not supposed to be a guess when you go to White House press about. There's no fee. When I read that. I've pay a lot of dos for my lessons and I'd like a feel. What else gets a fee? So Franck's went to college, Milton.

Speaker We want to get nice things. I want to come down to the White House and I'd like for you to tell. He says, I'll give you guys five hundred thousand pieces, OK? If we get very rich, he gets hijos look at Pittaway in your shoe. Have been given the company to come down to the White House to play for the King of Jordan. And there's a table that if you ever hear of those mothers. So he called.

Speaker He wanted to win or whatever. They always want a raise. Well, you know, which wasn't that make a rehearsal.

Speaker So only Bucky Fitzwater, the Hank Jones and I showed up at the rehearsal of his house on lesson down there. We came and he came out in this hall for a few minutes. We talk. How's my daughter Mona to fly? And he started play seven, we played lovemaking sixteen bars of a tune and he says, Okay fellas, that's all. Thank you. And we went down to the White House and it was a magnificent night. He played the tape so beautifully. Wavish play it what it when it did when it wasn't too fond of frustration. And he said that in your estimate, what I've seen as well.

Speaker But he wishes. Well, I got his tuxedo for many. I don't have it often for it. She's got it over very. We played in that during the course of the evening. We played some beautiful things. He did that.

Speaker And indeed, he did it. He can think that they as.

Speaker They played you for Jesse and Hank, and we played out all her favorite things and turned everybody reaches his way. Could we please sing, sing, sing? Is your shirt and batteries printed exactly like Gene Krupa or are they. We say it was a fantastic night. One of those beautiful things. So I loved it. I've known for a long of occasions. I knew it was loneliness and I felt sorry for him because he just could not relate with other musicianship on that leadership thing. And he could ever come down to say, come on, come on, let's have a beer or have a drink together. Tough stuff. Well, we hung out.

Speaker That was before you came along Broadway.

Speaker Yeah, I came down Broadway with my baseball man. We are going to a recording session.

Speaker And then as an Anglican, is this is this place where you have all these games and they have been instead there by himself playing the same thing for Charlotte Barnett would come in a shot as if there's a revival.

Speaker You know, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, always some kind of love jokes. Well, I. She just wasn't into that kind of thing. Well, these artists should never be forgotten because he was truly a master and a. He respected musicianship. He respected that.

Speaker This is you were talking before about your your life to that degree? Well, I caught a hell of a lot of challenges.

Speaker Well, rules have now passed. I caught it from my mother. She had to be a message. And she told me. I didn't see you. Did they see you or junket? Failure. She had that. And that's not too good for kids. You know, it's frightening. It gets a little heavy. But it was the kind of thing that she was so concerned that this next generation shouldn't go down the drain with. Too many people had to have some just tragic to generation from slavery. You know, and she was civil to it. So it got this dad instilled in me then the fact that we had my grandmother was one of the few women, black women that had this musical education or most of the black women and black men, they were musical talent, were light complected because he had somewhere down there. And in a black society, it was people don't mention they have what we call a blue vein society, if you will, quite enough to see you. The blood, that blue blood in your veins, you will separate and you can get a better job. You can get better places. There were people that did denied that the Dagnino their family, because they were late enough in what they call pass, went over the white side of the family. So it was very difficult. And my mother, Hannah, a National Negro Music Association, and all of these all of these people belong. This music association will conductor's choir directors and women and music musicians of classical background, not into jazz. And my mother was a member there and she was one of the few black women in there. And so she wanted me to.

Speaker To join this fall, organize a Jewish music association. When I was a teenager and she wanted me to come go in there because it was scholarship's being involved.

Speaker And I went down there to this day and all of the girls in there were like complected. Dorothy Donegan was one at the time. And Margaret Bosanko, I know all the names of these girls, you know.

Speaker Well, I loved her. I thought she was marvelous because she knew right up the street for me. And I didn't want my mom to play for me. I was playing violin. I wanted Dorothy. So nobody spoke to me. Know I shouldn't. She says I didn't send you down f anybody to speak you. There's a scholarship involved. And basically, I will win the scholarship. And you can win it. You can play. Now you go back and I went back and I won a scholarship. So it kept me with that sort of thing in my life. So then when I got people like these magnificent managers left you, Doc Cheatham and these people and I spoke about nothing later, camp kind of a damn. It had been a Claude Jones and that's you. These were Bestival players. These guys were classical players and then Kagan and get me to study with McClosky. And he had graciously and you will want to alter these same guys. This was the result of because the time finally came where qualification and not Kulongoski onwards would make it. Well, I was qualified to do that.

Speaker You know what? You got your money. You got no.

Speaker I'll talk to him about it later.

Speaker Well, I don't know that I don't know that yet. I don't know any connection with him, with Fletcher, because I was New York on that or not. I can't tell you why. What?

Speaker I don't really know if that made any difference. Was he related? Thirty five. So this is going to change anything.

Speaker Do you think that we were happy that it did. Did he get to you? You all have. But it didn't change anything at Frenchy's to help him that much. Yet when it did, where we were. What do you make as we make a hundred dollars a week in nineteen ninety six, man. That was the livelihood of the working people working with support and families on 25 hours a week. You know, I've seen my mother for the last week and she couldn't believe it. You know, she never heard of such a thing. So I'm doing well and and I'm in the society of jazz musician. We're making good money and we dress well. And you have no idea what is with the society in America. It was like for black musicians, black people there. Well, we went down south. Cab Calloway was ostracized for going down south with his kind of show because he came down south showing black people dressed up in beautiful clothes, zoot suits and copper colored gal of mine, you know, beautiful black women and eulogising black people and the white powder. We didn't know that. They wanted they wanted to keep us on race records. I'll cut your nappy here. All the real reason, because I made those with Sam Price all those lives. You got bad blood, mama turnover. Let me see what else you got. This was the kind of music was it kept people in this degradation. And so that's only heard on air. Was it cold in here? Can't. Can't we come down with these pretty girls all dressed up and thing and the white power to be didn't like it. And we were playing to black audiences and they told black ruffians, see these guys coming down on take your chick from you, you know? So just watch him. And if you could, whenever you shoot, one of you won't do any time. And Cab Calloway hadn't yet heard about this and he had to keep this when he had his Pullman cars. So you see, so where we play this concert, when you get to play in a concert. Get back on that train. Get back on that train. Cause if you go into town and go on the hand, you're going to get hurt. You see, if you see a chick titillation and you can get away. Bring her back on the train and socialize. Where do we get the Pullman porter to get the watermelon and the whiskey for us and have it on a train? And sometimes we could sneak a few girls over there and socialize with them. When the product was all put him off the train. But the guy wanted to. The guys have been instructed that we were different from them and that we. We were better. We were better than the. This is the kind of society. This is what you don't hear about.

Speaker Tell us why.

Speaker Well, we play it. We have it. We had a cab was a wise man and we actually give enough credit to him. He had a manager, a road manager that was from Texas Pegboard, Texas redneck. Dad loved cab and loved us. And he was out protected. You went down south. Now, I can remember one time one particular case, Longview, Texas.

Speaker They had a long view, Texas.

Speaker It was they discovered or they had discovered or all or there was a leak of oil there. There was 40 miles wide, 40 miles long and 20 miles wide.

Speaker The land in there was so much all the land where the oil was seeping up on the land. And the white force was sitting there handing land to the [Unrecognized] for Fichus as EGA because it was making the cow sick. They had noted that this was oil in there and most of the millionaire black guys. And I know that they are seen as a people that had firsthand this man and was miners for were cents and maker. And then the day of the big companies stand at all out of Moscow or so, I mean to give these people contracts, you know, seven, eight, seven dollars a month on a thousand dollars a year to two to. To drill on these lands, oh, where the hell out of town? And we play these people, these are white people whiteness that no white people are coming down a set of poverty suits for a thousand dollars apiece, salving or so watch us for two hundred dollars. And they get so much why they're buying it by anything. God knows what the Cab Calloway's agent gets for bringing us down there. And we're playing this dance. And Doc was there. He mentioned a little bit about it, but he didn't do it in depth to it. It would play in his dancing is a dance goes on. They get drunk. And as they get drunk, they go crazy and been paid up. Is a very handsome guy. Cab Calloway and some guy, some girl only sitting down the table has been playing a dream table. I take a J and she's no thank you, A.J. He will refuse rye whiskey and he goes away. He will take it and he joins me now. Her boyfriend is white it. You're drinking out of my glass glass. Now, this these are may I never move from this part of this isn't so they had a rule. It said that if you paid three hundred dollars, you can have a negative of. So the drag guys lined up to hit the pay three hundred dollars apiece and hit Cab Calloway in the mouth. This Jack boy. The manager.

Speaker So this was Kiore, and we we are in a concert. So whether you want to call a roadhouse to call country club. No, it was a roadhouse in those days.

Speaker The manager that gave that there's a guy to get booked at this total, Jagwar, his manager said, fellas, I do. What else? I cannot do this. I can't see you niggas. That's exactly what he said. So Jaguars, they stopped. They stopped playing under the bandstand. It was a step. It went down under the bars there. No, only one action was just going down a step. No backdoor. And a whole band went down there under this exit and that's where we stayed. And then they didn't see us anymore. They stopped drinking. We started fighting and cutting and beating themselves up. The next day, everybody's drunk. And we had to stay in an effort by two hours until they beaten, beat themselves out. And then Jack would sent for cars and things to get us out of there. And it was Longview, Texas. This is kind of things we invented. Nothing. Jackson, I can tell you the name of the town, Jacksonville, Florida. We're playing this dance and all these people become like, well, like rock concerts, thousands paying money. And it, Campbell, come out of that with a bushel basket for money and he wouldn't sell us a sandwich. We have to get in a bus and ride 200 miles or so before we could buy a sandwich.

Speaker These are some of the things, degradation that we went through and my wife, who have a matter for 53 years. You should be the only girl traveling with us because we were very much in those, as I mentioned this day. And we would get in town and these buses to play some of these dances in the tobacco warehouse or some armory with some godforsaken place. We get in town just in time to drive the bus up to the bandstand. Valets would get instruments out, served the bandstand, and we had to get out and play.

Speaker And my head had nothing to eat, nothing. And my wife would go to the neighborhood in the black neighborhood, make friends with the latest musicians, wives and the guys that had anything to eat. And you don't have any place to stay. And these ladies will say, well, I'll take tour was yours or take to the house of Miss Smith or take two over here. And Miss Johnson, I'll take two over here. And she'd write this down and she would say to them to see what the guys have had and they need to. If I go to the store, I get six or seven chickens and I can give you some money if you help me cook it. Cause why animation time, I can get it down there. And in emission time, my wife would come down there with a red big basket of chicken and potato salad and less as a. You and Terry Ole Miss Jones house and these companies replace you pay two dollars apiece to states. These are all over a dollar piece for this chicken. These are the kind of things that we went to.

Speaker But you story.

Speaker Yeah, well, we joked about it. We will survive. We survived. And we we looked at it is is stupidity. There's no other Omaha, Nebraska, and surrounds this. I know you have met up to a tee, this one about Omaha, Nebraska, assuming the stupidity of segregation and prejudice. We had a guy in a band near Rudy POW, wonderful saxophone player, but he joined a civil organization in New York City called a Muslim group, not the Muslim like Malcolm X or some other kind of group, but it was of Oriental Hotel and the Soozie to the outside. And. So, I mean, he still wouldn't say color. He says, I didn't ask you anything about it. He said, where's your phone call? The State Department has my name here. Really? Well, she'd call William with his name. Mucci. Here's my name. He called the State Department. I want to see some wires. Implies it. Was it the owner of this hotel? And the people got frightened. Boehner's girlfriend. He says, I've got fifteen of my brothers out on this bus. We haven't had any place to stay and not speaking with me. And we've got to have someplace to stay in this castle where I'm very sorry, sir. I didn't know. He says we have to call the State Department and say, okay, you can have the room. He came back to it, wasn't told us say that those will say nothing. Just quickly. And he said, our names are Muhammad Ali. So and so Jonah Jones shouted, These are the all of us. And we walked in our hotel and stayed all night. Now, that's how stupid. That's segregation and prejudice was. And I've seen this. We saw Rudy will walk in a hotel, in a restaurant where we wouldn't Dagwood in the south and sit down to the counter and dance with some guys. I also called him. He says, I didn't ask you about it. I said I was colored. And he would say.

Speaker So this is some of the stupidest, stupid things that we saw. So we had a different outlook. It was a different day. And I'm I'm so sorry, as I said in my last point, is that I wanted to record some of these things in my book that show. So my younger generation show people that there has been a wonderful change in this program and say I stepped on a piece of team.

Speaker The team did Néstor with a tailwind. OK.

Milton Hinton
Interview Date:
1993-01-21
Runtime:
1:07:18
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-0v89g5gv6c, cpb-aacip-504-9p2w37mc3r
MLA CITATIONS:
"Milton Hinton, Benny Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 21 Jan. 1993, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/417
APA CITATIONS:
(1993, January 21). Milton Hinton, Benny Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/417
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Milton Hinton, Benny Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). January 21, 1993. Accessed January 29, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/417

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