Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.
 

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.
 

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)
 

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.
 

Stratton has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.


 
 

JAZZMAN IN TRAINING

Bill DeArango played guitar with Dizzy Gillespie on 52nd Street and was the music guy in Cleveland. I was at DeArango’s University Heights music store, playing charts from New Sounds in Modern Music (edited by Bugs Bower, 1949). DeArango had randomly picked the New Sounds in Modern Music book from his sheet-music rack. A kid with a horn (alto) in 1970. Back then it was all guitars and drums. I didn’t tell DeArango I had bought the New Sounds book a couple years before and knew it cold.

DeArango introduced me to Jimmy Emery, a guitar player who could pick out all the Charlie Parker solos. (Emery moved to New York three years later and went on to record with all the big names.) Emery and I had jazz to ourselves in 1970, at least among 20-year-old white kids in Cleveland.

I visited Berklee in Boston. It had no campus, just one building. The founder was Lawrence Berk. The lee in Berklee is for Lawrence’s son, Lee. Berklee — the name — reminded me of my dad’s failed foot-powder company, Lesbert Drug Co., named for my sister, Leslie, and me. Maybe not a real college — Berklee? I went home to Cleveland, then back to Ann Arbor to reactivate my authentic college life.

I was not near Jimmy Emery’s level. Emery could mimic any sound he heard, and do it quickly. I bought play-along records and got into the Michigan jazz band. Dave Brubeck’s son was in that band. I got the second alto seat by playing a blues in F, or something like that. Few kids knew how to improvise back then. Music students came from high school stage bands, not jazz bands.

I borrowed recordings of Hank Crawford, Lou Donaldson and Rufus Harley from a black Detroit kid I knew from the dorms. I went to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit to see Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt and Roland Kirk. I bought how-to-play-jazz books. I read Leroi Jones for cultural background. My how-to-play-jazz books were mostly by David Baker, Indiana University. These books were boring chord patterns and scales. Not as dry as Organic Chemistry, but not a pleasure.

I eventually quit playing and dropped out of college for a few months. These days I play some Dixieland clarinet, and not too well. Hurray for klezmer!

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5 comments

1 Mark Schilling { 01.20.21 at 10:20 am }

You just visited Berklee? I thought you took classes?

2 Bert Stratton { 01.20.21 at 10:26 am }

To Mark Schilling:

Just visited. A couple walks thru the hallway and I knew I’d be in over my head.

3 Art Snow { 01.20.21 at 10:54 am }

I took guitar lessons at Difiore’s when it was on 117th just off Lorain. Afterward I would walk to Tony’s Diner and meet
my Mom there for a ride home. I wish I had that Guild acoustic guitar and could have a breakfast with my Mom.

4 Ari Davidow { 01.20.21 at 12:52 pm }

My wife, Judith Pinnolis, proprietress of the Jewish Music Web Center (http://www.jmwc.org) is one of the directors of the Berklee library these days. Drop her a line if you’re ever back in town (once we’re past covid) and she’ll give you a tour of the current campus.

5 Dave Rowe { 01.21.21 at 4:29 pm }

Sounds like a good foundation – one big lack, though – no Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge.

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