One thing that comes with getting older is that your brain gets filled up with memories. And some of them are pleasant and amusing. I was listening to some of my favorite old jazz recordings last week and a thought came to mind that made me smile.
When I was a young DJ on a little radio station, the “other” staff member was also a kid and we were, as they say now, “into” modern (for its time) jazz. It was a constant battle between the manager and we two to allow us to play the kind of music we wanted to listen to. Stan Kenton was our favorite, although any big band music would suit us. But Kenton was way ahead of the group. Benny Goodman was still playing “swing” as were Harry James and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey.
Kenton attracted all the young jazz enthusiasts to his band and a brilliant arranger and composer, Pete Rugalo created great big booming tunes that made chills run up your back.
At the time I had an old maid aunt. Aunt Mamie was certainly in her late 60s at the time and was the quintessential “Old Maid.” She lived with my widowed Aunt Pearl. Mamie’s life-time achievement was that she had never missed Sunday School in her life, and she had the longevity medals to prove it.
I remember her visiting at my house when I had just obtained a 45rpm record player. For you youngsters, the 45 played records that were slightly larger than your average saucer and had a large hole in the middle a little bigger than a quarter. I was playing some of my favorite music when Aunt Mamie came into my room to see what her nephew was up to. I turned off the record player and we chatted. She asked about the records scattered over my bed and I told her, “Aunt Mamie, if anyone ever asks you what kind of music you like you be sure to tell them, ‘Stan Kenton’ is my very favorite.” And she smilingly agreed.
Now, I’m not sure if it ever occurred, but as I thought of it the other day I wondered if, in Aunt Mamie’s Sunday School class, she stood up proudly and said, “Stan Kenton’s orchestra is really cool. I love it!” It’s an interesting vision to contemplate.