Posted by keithosaunders on May 11, 2011
I grew up in Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley in a town called Van Nuys. When I lived in L.A. I thought it was a the center of the world. I thought it was a glamorous place full of hip movie stars, and great musicians.
As I got into my teen years and was exposed to, and began playing jazz, I began to wonder about the wider world, in particular, New York City. Both of my parents grew up in New York. My father had great memories of his childhood there, and he vividly described what it was like to grow up in New York during the pre and post World War II era.
I got into my late teens and began hanging out with the great drummer, Dick Berk. He had lived in New York in the early ’60s, and he would spend hours regaling me with stories of all the great musicians he had hung out with and played with.
New York was like a mythical place to me, filled with jazz clubs, great sports teams, colorful characters, jazz musicians, and places to hang out until all hours to the night. What could be better?
There was one problem. Almost everyone else I talked to hated New York. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that it was a crime-ridden, rat-infested, over-priced hell-whole, and that I should have my head examined for wanting to live there. When you recall some of the films of the 1970s — The Out of Towners, Taxi Driver, and Mean Streets — you can see why it had a bad reputation. Of course, most of the people I knew had never been to New York, but that didn’t stop them from badmouthing it.
Furthermore, they told me, the people were rude, unfriendly, and unwelcoming. When I responded that I wanted to experience the greatest jazz scene in the world, I was told to grow up — that there was no future in jazz.
To be continued…