For three glorious decades, one of the most important trumpet stylists in jazz, the great Art Farmer, lived right here in Vienna and was a frequent guest soloist at Jazzland. For most of those years we'd talked with Art about doing a "live" record here at the club with his Vienna Quintet - Harry Sokal on tenor and soprano, Fritz Pauer at the piano, Paolo Cardoso on bass, and Mario Gonzi on drums. Finally, in January of 1998, we pulled it off: the group's peerless musicianship blended with Jazzland's special atmosphere and intensity for one of the most satisfying and timeless of all Austrian jazz productions. What we couldn't have suspected at the time was that The Art Farmer Quintet Live at Jazzland would also be the great brassman's valedictory, a poignant musical farewell.
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No less important, no less unique and beloved, a figure in Jazzland's
45-year history was master tenorist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. In 18 week-long engagements within a dozen years he left his imprint on all who heard and worked with him. Who was on the stand when we celebrated our tenth anniversary in 1982? None other than the inimitable "Jaws," backed by Michael Starch at the piano, Stefan Prokesch on bass, and Viktor Plasil on drums. With Charlie Ratzer added on guitar, they went into Gerhard Wessely's SOUNDBORN studio, to lay down a session for the ages, a record that has lost none of its freshness and excitement.
It also offered a special bonus for Lockjaw fans: his only spoken words, at least so far as we know, on a commercially issued record. During the final title he "signs off" in his usual droll manner, just as if he were ending a set in a club - which, come to think of it, is exactly what he was doing.
|One of the inevitable perks of running a jazz club over more than two decades is the wonderful stories you accumulate: funny, sad, thoughtful, touching, and above all swinging.
That's a special bonus for me: before getting involved with the musical (and, latterly, gastronomic) side of the Jazzland operation, my "profession" - I use the term advisedly - was as a writer. I wrote sci-fi (rarely published, but not bad), and all sorts of other, generally decently-paid, stuff including detective stories and humorous novels and even a bit of porn. The experience stood me in good stead when I tackled the First Jazzland Book of stories and anecdotes.
That's right: the first. A sequel is now in the works, due to appear in March, 2002, in time for Jazzland's 30th birthday. For anyone inclined to wonder, volume three should be ready in or around 2022, when Jazzland turns fifty, and I - well, let's say when I'm a bit older than I am right now. Nothing like a bit of realism when you're planning the future, eh?
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