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Keter Betts

Legendary jazz bassist William Thomas "Keter" Betts was born July 22, 1928, in Port Chester, New York. While running an errand for his mother while in the fifth grade, Betts came across a parade. Instead of continuing on his way, he followed the parade all over town, entranced by the music. That incident marked the beginning of his love affair with music.

Starting out on the drums, Betts tired of carrying the set up and down the four floors to his family apartment, and in 1946, he switched to the bass. When Betts was only nineteen, he landed his first professional gig, playing for thirteen weeks in Washington, D.C., with saxophonist Carmen Leggio. After touring the country from 1949 to 1951, Betts met jazz singer Dinah Washington and toured with her from 1951 until 1956. The next five years found Betts working in the hottest clubs in the country and touring Europe and South America with Charlie Byrd and Woody Herman. In 1964, Betts joined up with Ella Fitzgerald for a short tour. He would rejoin her several more times, and their career together would span twenty-four years.

Betts was an instructor of music at Howard University in Washington, D.C., since 1963, and also instructed young adults through various programs, including the Washington Performing Arts Society's Concerts in Schools and Prince George's County's Arts Alive. Despite appearing in more than 100 recordings, it was not until 1998 that Betts released his first solo album, Bass, Buddies & Blues, and followed it up a year later with Bass, Buddies, Blues Beauty Too.

Betts was a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Big Band and was inducted into the Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame. Betts performed annually at the All-Star Christmas Jazz Jam on Millennium Stage from 2000 to 2004.

Betts passed away on August 6, 2005 at age 77.

Accession Number

A2003.110

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/28/2003

Last Name

Betts

Maker Category
Middle Name

Thomas

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Port Chester

HM ID

BET01

Favorite Season

Birthday

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

N/A

Favorite Quote

Thank You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/22/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti, Seafood

Death Date

8/6/2005

Short Description

Bassist Keter Betts (1928 - 2005 ) played professionally from 1949, appearing on more than 100 recordings while touring with the likes of Dinah Washington, Charlie Byrd, Woody Herman and Ella Fitzgerald.

Employment

Howard University

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Keter Betts's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Keter Betts lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes how he got his nickname

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Keter Betts describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Keter Betts describes his desire to become a musician

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Keter Betts describes his childhood in Port Chester, New York with his mother and aunts

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Keter Betts describes an early musical gig and his aunts' suspicions about how he earned money

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Keter Betts describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Keter Betts describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Keter Betts describes his childhood personality and dedication to music

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Keter Betts describes hearing the marching band drums and his first snare drum

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Keter Betts describes his teenage development as a drummer

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Keter Betts describes his mother's support of his bass playing

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Keter Betts describes learning independence from his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes switching from playing drums to playing bass

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Keter Betts describes how being director of the chorus developed his understanding of music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Keter Betts describes being influenced by music in movies

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Keter Betts describes some of the musicians who influenced him in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Keter Betts recounts finding a teacher and buying his first bass

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Keter Betts describes how his bass allows him to express himself

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Keter Betts describes being influenced by Panama Francis and Tommy Flanagan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Keter Betts describes the beginning of his career as a professional bassist

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Keter Betts describes how playing the drums influenced his bass playing

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Keter Betts describes the quartet he played with in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Keter Betts describes learning to play by practicing in New York jazz clubs

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Keter Betts describes the jazz clubs around U Street in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes not worrying about money

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Keter Betts describes hearing Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown perform in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Keter Betts describes the African American theater circuit on the East Coast and in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Keter Betts talks about what he learned from bandleaders like Earl Bostic and Cootie Williams

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Keter Betts describes playing with Dinah Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Keter Betts describes his wedding and marriage to Mildred Grady Betts

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Keter Betts describes traveling with Dinah Washington, Charlie Byrd, and Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Keter Betts describes earning his reputation as a singer's bass player

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Keter Betts describes the hits Dinah Washington had while playing with her

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Keter Betts shares his stories about Dinah Washington, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Keter Betts shares his stories about Dinah Washington, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes how his personality was affected by growing up an only child

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Keter Betts describes the cause of Dinah Washington's career demise

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Keter Betts describes how singers interpret and project songs through diction

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Keter Betts describes his experience traveling across the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Keter Betts describes ending his touring to take care of his family

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Keter Betts describes traveling to Brazil with Charlie Byrd and discovering the bossa nova

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Keter Betts reflects on the ups and downs of careers in music

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Keter Betts describes his appreciation of Brazilian music and his South American tour in 1961

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes the racial progress that he witnessed while on tour during his career

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Keter Betts talks about his international tours from 1959 until 1961

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Keter Betts talks about his appreciation of Brazilian music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Keter Betts describes his experience recording "Jazz Samba" with Stan Getz and the lawsuit that followed

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Keter Betts talks about other musicians who played with Stan Getz and Dinah Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Keter Betts describes recording "Jazz Samba" with Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Keter Betts describes his friendship with Ray Brown and their mutual enjoyment of golf, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Keter Betts describes his friendship with Ray Brown and their mutual enjoyment of golf, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Keter Betts describes his bass-playing style compared to that of Ray Brown

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Keter Betts describes how jazz musicians have aided or ostracized female musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Keter Betts reflects on the experience of making an audience happy during a performance

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes the types of venues where Ella Fitzgerald performed

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Keter Betts shares his funniest story about performing with Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Keter Betts describes why he stayed in Ella Fitzgerald's band for twenty-four years

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Keter Betts talks about the eccentricities different singers bring to performances

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Keter Betts describes his experience playing with Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Keter Betts describes adjusting to the stylistic differences between Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Keter Betts describes his experience touring

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes playing with Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Keter Betts talks about Tommy Flanagan leaving Ella Fitzgerald's band

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Keter Betts talks about traveling with Ella Fitzgerald and how performing keeps entertainers young

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Keter Betts talks about playing with Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Keter Betts reflects on how he has enjoyed his career

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Keter Betts describes the security that he and Tommy Flanagan provided for Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Keter Betts talks about his favorite male vocalists

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Keter Betts describes playing a final concert with Ella Fitzgerald in 1993

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Keter Betts reflects upon the deaths of Ella Fitzgerald, his wife, and his mother

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Keter Betts describes his experience recording his first solo album in 1998

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Keter Betts reflects upon his career as a musician and his plans for retirement

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Keter Betts talks about his plans to keep playing bass after retiring

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Keter Betts reflects upon his regrets

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Keter Betts describes his mother's pride in hearing him play with Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Keter Betts reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Keter Betts lists some of his favorite bassists and reflects on the future of jazz

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Keter Betts plays his bass

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Keter Betts narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Keter Betts describes his desire to become a musician
Keter Betts describes his experience traveling across the United States
Transcript
And so how I got the music part came was-- I was in the fifth grade and my mother [Mariah Betts] sent me around the corner. We had an account with this Italian store, she sent me around the corner to get a loaf of bread and bottle of milk. And when I came out, something came behind and I said, "Whoa, what is that," and I followed it and it was an Italian parade. And I walked over all over town for about four hours following this parade behind the drums. And when I came home, I had the loaf of bread squeezed up, milk was warm, you know (laughter) and my mother like to killed me. "Where have you been? I have been worried to death, somebody said you followed behind a parade," and I said, "That's right." And then I was sitting there sniffling and so forth and I said "Mom, I wanna play the drums." And I guess she figured well, if I give him a licking, he keeps on ticking, he must be serious. So I got, next month, I got a little snare drum. And I got a picture of me with shorts, polo shirt and--and that's it. I realized that the way things, there are that certain things happen in life is that, I guess I coined the phrase, there's two clocks in the world, there's only two. There's one that can wake you up anytime in twenty-four hours that you wanna get up, you know, but there's another one that can go off inside of your head and point you in a direction that you best suited for, for a profession in life and you must hear that clock, cause a lot of people don't hear that. So when you hear it, then you became like the captain of your own ship because you, setting up your destiny. And those that don't hear it, they become row boaters. They just sit in a row boat and they go along with the tide. Hey can you pull me along, because they have no ambition, no motor, no sails. But then as you set a goal, when you run into storms, you have to alter the course, but you're going toward that goal, which is the most important thing. And I knew right from that day, from that parade, when I got that first drum, that's it, I gonna be a musician.$Now how was life on the road like then?$$You don't wanna be there. It was rough, I mean for me coming from the north, born and raised in it. When I went with [Earl] Bostic on the first Southern tour, I mean because my folks, they talked about--that didn't mean nothing to me. We had this just a little thing out there, but I was taught by some of the older guys in the band that it's a different way of life we're going to but just remember this that when you go each one of these towns, "You're just going to play, you're not going to stay." And that was the motto, you're going to play, you're not going to stay. So be yourself, just the way you are, but don't think of it, don't let it carry a heavy burden, cause you're not gone take up roots there. And you learned, and it was different, it was--but one thing that really fascinated me was, you play all the dances, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and so forth and they would have white spectators. They would sell tickets, in fact this lady was writing a big book on Dinah--I got a lot stuff here, it was spectators one dollar, participants, two dollars and a quarter for a dance. And she wanted to know why was it one dollar; I said what does the word say, spectator. I mean they could not dance, they could just see, so they would have a rope, and you say the room was yay wide, one fourth would be roped up that way and the rest would be for the dance, they used to cut the rope. And come over, you know, and the sheriffs and the policemen, get back over there and put the rope up. I've seen them cut the rope four times that night. The thing that meant the most to me was the fact that the power of music was so that--like somebody go completely contrary of what the rules would be just to dance, because that rhythm that's reaching them. So you see that there is something to music that's--as they say music serves, what is it, tames the savage beast, yeah. And when you go to--when we go to like traveling Europe or behind the Iron Curtain, you know, half or maybe three fourths of--don't understand the words and yet they're fascinated. I'm talking about like we're behind a singer or even just with a group that be playing and they're fascinated, that is the power of music.$$Now so not-- life on the road never just disappointed you where you said I don't want this anymore, or was it just the comradery or the family or the--(simultaneous)$$No, I think that, first of all, the reason I really went with [Earl] Bostic was one, I wanted to see the country--I mean I was pretty good in geography. And I knew that we had a big country, so I said well, if I have to see it, this is the best way because by then, it was all--everything was traveling by cars. The Big Bands had busses, and so you got a chance to see the country and see the difference. I'm fascinated to be driving through Arizona or some place and sightseeing big copper mine, go see this, go see a ghost town. You know when I first saw the Grand Canyon, oh Lord, because you see that in the movies it just a big--but when you see that in person and standing you can't believe that this monstrous and see the caverns and Jesse James' hideout, Dr. [George Washington] Carver's home where he was born that's, you know. Now you get the Interstates, you bypass all that, you don't see nothing. I can get the Interstate---I can leave here and go up here and what three lights or so forth and get on the Beltway and I can go all the way to California. Probably don't see another light until you get to (unclear). But then it was all by those highways, which was the scenic view, and go up to from L.A. [Los Angeles, California], up Seattle [Washington] and take the coast line and you, get to see the beauty of this country.

Eldee Young

Eldee Devon Young was born on January 7, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Walter, worked as a machinist and his mother, Beatrice, looked after the couple’s eight children. After learning the guitar from his brother at age ten, Young began playing the upright bass professionally at thirteen. He played at the After Hours Club on Sunday nights from 2:30 a.m. until dawn and then ate breakfast at home before heading to school. Young achieved great heights as a musician and could be heard on bass, cello and vocals with his own group, the Eldee Young Jazz Quartet before his passing.

Young met pianist Ramsey Lewis at McKinley High School. They played together until after graduation in 1953, when Young toured with a blues band through the South. However, he was unsatisfied and his preference for jazz and bebop led him to return to Chicago. Lewis, drummer Isaac "Redd" Holt and Young formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio. The three worked hard to improve their skills. Young went on to study at the American Conservatory of Music. The Ramsey Lewis Trio released their first album in 1956, becoming hugely successful. Their albums The In Crowd and Hang on Sloopy went gold and the group sold out Carnegie Hall. However, the pressures of fame caused friction and in 1965 Young and Holt split to form Young-Holt Unlimited. The Soulful Strut, released soon after, sold enough copies to be certified gold. Young also performed with other artists, including Dinah Washington; Dizzy Gillespie; and Oscar Brown, Jr.

Young and his wife, Barbara, have three children, Eldevon, Tyree and Marcus. Young performed for numerous television and radio programs, as well as for movies. In his later years, he spent six months a year performing in Singapore.

Young passed away on Monday, February 12, 2007 in Thailand where he was performing. Young was 71 years old.

Accession Number

A2002.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/6/2002

Last Name

Young

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Devon

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Eldee

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

YOU01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Can you dig it?$Remember who you are and where you are.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/7/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cajun, Asian, Soul Food

Death Date

2/12/2007

Short Description

Bassist Eldee Young (1936 - 2007 ) was a member of the original Ramsey Lewis Trio and Young & Holt Unlimited. His album, "The Soulful Strut," was a certified gold record. Young also performed with other artists, including Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Brown, Jr.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eldee Young interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eldee Young's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eldee Young describes his family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eldee Young describes the struggles of his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eldee Young describes his mother and father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eldee Young describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Chicago, Illinois, his hometown

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eldee Young develops his passion for music while in high school

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eldee Young develops a career as a professional musician

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eldee Young balances his jazz career and his school life

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eldee Young describes his experience as a black musician on the road

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eldee Young describes a network of musicians in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eldee Young remembers musician Nat King Cole

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eldee Young describes the process of naming his jazz trio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eldee Young discusses The Ramsey Lewis Trio's popular rendition of 'The In Crowd'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eldee Young describes Chicago's exceptional jazz scene

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eldee Young discusses the intrigue of live musical performance

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eldee Young describes the breakup of The Ramsey Lewis Trio and the forming of Young-Holt Unlimited

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eldee Young describes his experiences as a father

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Eldee Young describes his successes with Young-Holt Unlimited

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Eldee Young remembers spending time with his heroes, jazz legends

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eldee Young meets Bill Cosby early in his comedic career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eldee Young recognizes his alcoholism and seeks help

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eldee Young discusses passed relatives

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eldee Young considers his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eldee Young considers his music in terms of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eldee Young describes his hopes for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eldee Young tours regularly in Asia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eldee Young would like to be remembered as a happy musician

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Photo - Eldee Young plays bass at a jazz festival in Singapore

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Photo - Eldee Young plays the stick bass at a Singapore club

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Eldee Young performs at Aubrey's, a Singapore nightclub

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Eldee Young plays the blues for an audience member

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with Shawn Kelly and Taurey Butler, fellow musicians

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Photo - Eldee Young sits for a portrait

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Eldee Young performs at the Apollo Theater with Isaac 'Redd' Holt

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with his bass for a promotional photograph

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with Ruben DeAndrea and Ken Chaney, members of his late seventies trio

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with a cello and a bass

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with Fat Girl, his valuable bass

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Eldee Young plays the G string

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Eldee Young takes a Star in the Spotlight photograph

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Photographer Doc Anderson takes Eldee Young's photograph at the Apollo Theater

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with Young-Holt Unlimited at the Apollo Theater

Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Eldee Young plays the bass with Young-Holt Unlimited

Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with the members of The Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Eldee Young and Isaac 'Redd' Holt appear on 'The Mike Douglas Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Eldee Young spends time with celebrities at a Chicago, Illinois club

Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Eldee Young and his band The Ramsey Lewis Trio receive an award for most popular new group

Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with other well-known Chicago, Illinois musicians

Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with other musicians at a Singapore club

Tape: 5 Story: 23 - Photo - Eldee Young poses with a saxophonist at Chicago's the Back Room

Tape: 5 Story: 24 - Photo - Eldee Young poses in New York City with Isaac 'Redd' Holt, Ramsey Lewis, and Nancy Wilson, ca. 1963-1964

Tape: 5 Story: 25 - Photo - Eldee Young takes a promotional photograph with his bow in hand

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$9

DATitle
Eldee Young describes Chicago's exceptional jazz scene
Eldee Young remembers spending time with his heroes, jazz legends
Transcript
The guy that preceded us [The Ramsey Lewis Trio: Eldee Young, jazz bassist; Ramsey Lewis, jazz composer/pianist; Isaac 'Redd' Holt, jazz percussionist] with the record company [Argo/Cadet label] was Ahmad Jamal [jazz pianist]. And he had a very successful record just before us which was the--the 'But Not for Me' album, which was a live album recorded over on the South Side [Chicago, Illinois] at the Pershing Lounge. But, it--it was a jazz album as such and it didn't get as much crossover as we got. But it was--it--it sold great. His album sold for years and years, you know, a great album. He's a great musician, Ahmad Jamal, 'cause I remember him years ago. He had a little playing locally in Chicago. But that's--that's another thing, it was--and I didn't get into that so much because--but during the fifties, there were a lot of great stars that--that I didn't realize they were gonna become as great--as well-known--that were just floating around and working and, you know--getting their skills together and what not. [Big] Joe Williams [blues guitarist/songwriter], I used to play for Joe Williams in blues clubs years ago. And this is way before he got with Count Basie [jazz pianist]. He was singing locally here in Chicago. And he became a big star. Ahmad Jamal, a big star, you know, different guys like that, you know. And it was--it was a--well, Chicago, really--we were talking about the atmosphere in Chicago. The atmosphere for music in Chicago was the best. I think the best in the world because a lot of musicians came to Chicago from other parts of the country to get their skills together and to get a chance to tighten their game up. And then maybe later on they wound up in New York or something like that--New York. But Chicago had a lot of live music going on--different clubs, after-hours clubs and--and there were places to play. You know, 63rd Street [Chicago] used to be called the 'Street of Dreams.' They had clubs all up and down 63rd Street--blues clubs, jazz clubs, everything. Sixty-third [Street] and Cottage Grove [Avenue], I was--I was hanging out with a drummer, a professional drummer, a guy I knew named Hobbs at the time. And he said, "Come on and go with me. I'm going to sit in with these different clubs, and you'll get a chance to meet these guys. Maybe they won't let you sit in, but at least you'll get a chance to see 'em." So I hung out with him one night over there. And we went from club to club, right in that area. And he sat in about--at about three different clubs, sat in on the drums 'cause they knew Hobbs. He was a great drummer. And I got a chance to see all these people that were performing all around in this area. And they were great. Gene Ammons [jazz saxophonist] was over there--well, so many guys. Sonny Stitt [jazz saxophonist] was playing some place and every--it was a lot of--just a lot of really great clubs--a lot of little clubs where you could get your skills together. They weren't paying a whole lot of money, but they were--they were clubs where you--you had a chance to play the music, you know. And if you really played it, then you could get the people's ear and attention, you know. So you had to learn how to do that, you know, to play for people--very important. So Chicago was really like a--even--well, go back even further--Louis Armstrong [jazz trumpeter] came to Chicago and this is where he became really famous. He really became famous--he really skyrocketed after he came to Chicago from New Orleans [Louisiana], you know. And so many--so many musicians passed through here on their way up (points upward).$What are your favorite, I guess--what are your favorite moments from your years as a performer?$$Oh, favorite moments. I don't know. It had to be at--well, my favorite moments were, basically--that happened often--was meeting and playing music with my--my heroes. You got to understand, when I was young, I used to go to the jazz at the Phil [Philharmonic, sic, Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois] and watch them guys at--at the [Civic] Opera House here--at the jazz at the Philharmonic perform. And these guys were my heroes. And Duke Ellington's [composer/musician] a hero and Nat King Cole [jazz singer/pianist]. I got a chance to meet these guys and some of them to play music with them. One defining moment: there's a great bass player, he--he passed away not too long ago [2000], named Milt Hinton--very successful, very great bass player. He used to invite guys over to his house. One day we had--we were invited over his house--one night, you know, to have a little something to eat and then have a little booze. So he got behind the bar and he gave me one of his bass fiddles. And we were there together, and we had started a jam session. We had Ben Webster [jazz tenor] on saxophone, [Julian] 'Cannonball' Adderley's [jazz saxophonist] whole group was there and Ramsey [Lewis, composer/jazz pianist] and--and Joe Zawinul [jazz fusion musician] on piano. And we played music. And I tried to get Milt to play the bass, and he said, "I'm pouring the whiskey, you guys--you play the--the bass," you know. We played 'Come Sunday,' a Duke Ellington tune. The first time I ever played that, you know, was with Ben Webster, and he was--it was just a--a good feeling. We just played some bebop and some good music, played the blues and some things. And it was a great moment for me, you know, to be able to play some music with my heroes. Cannonball Adderley, great, and Ben Webster--at the same time, in the same room--oh, it was phenomenal. I also got a chance to play duets, jam sessions with Ray Brown [jazz bassist]. There's another--he just passed away incidentally [2002], and he was like a--a great friend. And I never told him he was one of my heroes. We used to joke and kid and play golf together all the time, you know, when we got a chance rather. But we used to play duets together and stuff, you know. And it was meeting people like that--to shake Duke Ellington's hand and--and, you know, and pass a few words with him, you know, it's--it's something, you know.$$What was Duke Ellington like?$$He's a gentleman, you know. He was so smooth--all the time smooth, you know, and always had that--that look about him, you know, like he's happy. You know, he's doing something--he--he looked like, when he'd just walk around, he looked like music. You know, he looked like he was flowing, you know, like the music, you know. And you meet him, and he'd say--he was so gracious, you know. "Hey, glad to meet you." "My pleasure. It'd be my pleasure to meet you", you know, or something like that. He's--he was, I don't know. His character would never come back again like that, you know. You know, and he'd phrase it like, you know, "I love you madly" (laughs). He was great, he was great.$$What about Cannonball Adderley?$$Cannonball is--he's a great guy. Cannonball was a school teacher that--he cancelled out teaching and became such a great performer. But you could sit and talk to him, and it was almost like sitting in the class some time. And we used to do--we were doing a show together. And we used to go across from the theater to a place, a lady's house that used to cook food, family-style, and we'd sit there and eat. One day we sat there, and I didn't leave the table--all--everybody in the show had finally left, but Cannonball and I were sitting there talking, you know, and still eating. I got back to the place, I was so full, I fell out because I sat there, and I just wanted to sit and listen to Cannonball, you know--you know, espousing about music and about life, maybe politics or whatever, you know. It was funny, we used to do that sometimes in the dressing rooms, you know, just have discussions with people. Apollo Theater [New York]--we used to--a lot of different people used to come to the Apollo Theater--come backstage. Sidney Poitier [actor/ambassador] came back-- he used to come around the theater.