Monday, May 10, 2010

This 'n That 'n Fiddler in '90

Usually the headline above references the opening item. Today it ties to the final part of this post. But stick with's worth the wait.


My recent post on Milton Morris (here) noted the play money adorned with his visage that he bandied about. Rick in PV still had one in his possession and graciously scanned it to share. Any who had the fortune to visit Milton's will no doubt remember this:

Rick adds:

The back has “7” in the corners, and the poem:

IF (three lines tall)
I've been out of line!
I've given you credit!
I've cashed a bad check for you!
No matter what the reason that I haven't
seen you COME BACK HOME!

Thank you, Rick.


Congratulations to Sue Vicory on last Thursday's premiere of her film, Kansas City Jazz and Blues; Past, Present and Future, at the Gem Theater.

The documentary was not yet complete and became a sneak preview (the Future clearly has some fleshing out to come). But that was more than compensated by Marilyn Maye performing for a full hour, three times the time promised. She captured the Gem and, audience in hand, didn't want to let that stage go. We were thrilled she didn't. Her fresh stylings on Ray Charles and jazz songbooks delightfully evoked passion for the days of Ella and Sarah.

Also evoking delight: the night's opening act, one of my favorite groups, Diverse, joined by Matt Otto, Stan Kessler and Lonnie McFadden (and T.J. Martley filling the piano bench). Showcasing a new Ryan Lee composition then bop, they celebrated jazz's more modern styles joyously.

Marilyn Maye stormed the Gem with over half a century more experience than some of the musicians in the opener. In a night celebrating jazz's past, present and future, it was an ideal contrast. Though with the vibrancy Marilyn kicked around that stage, I'm not sure which act actually looked younger.


Now, about that headline.

I previously posted one TV news story to YouTube (blog post and video here) which, last I looked, nobody had yet requested be removed. So let's try one more.

On the same old VHS tape as the last posted video, I also saved a story from CBS Sunday Morning which aired September 16, 1990 on Claude “Fiddler” Williams. Dr. Billy Taylor, who then contributed regular stories on jazz to the program, profiled our Kansas City legend.

In particular, note the session at the Mutual Musicians Foundation at about 3:50 into the 10 minute video, with “Fiddler” backed by Frank Smith on piano, Milt Abel on bass and Tommy Ruskin on drums. Of that group, only Tommy is still with us. Watching them again brings back the most wonderful of memories (watching them in the video: a very young David Basse).

Later, we hear Claude at City Light Restaurant. KC jazz fans, see how many faces in the audience you recognize there.

As you watch the vigor, energy and pure joy that Claude “Fiddler” Williams radiates in every performance, remind yourself that at the time he was 82 years old (not 86 as is misspoken in the introduction). And he would continue to swing Kansas City clubs and festivals – and tour the world – for another 14 years.

The piece opens with host Charles Kuralt and Dr. Billy Taylor talking jazz violin and Kansas City jazz. Hopefully, nobody will object to the posting of a news story aired once two decades ago. Unless that happens, enjoy:


  1. What a tremendous gift! Thank you.

  2. Really grateful for this wonderful piece of Kansas City jazz history...(and grateful for the internet that let me find it and your wonderful blog!) Yeah!


Comments are welcome. If you prefer, you can reach me directly at kcjazzlark(at)gmail(dot)com.