17 Chapters
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17 The End of Keystone

Kathy Sloane Indiana University Press ePub

A gauntlet has been thrown down
for generations as a way that the
music can be presented.

Todd Barkan

Todd Barkan

Well, it always had financial problems. Keystone closed because of financial problems, but also because I didn’t know where to turn in terms of financing it. Yeah, it closed because of financial problems, but as much as anything it closed because of myself: I think I ran out of steam of knowing how to keep it open. My creative adrenaline had run out.

Eddie Marshall

It lasted so long and Todd was so dedicated. You know, a lot of people would’ve folded that club in two years. I really have a hard time when I hear people try to suggest criminal activity, that his integrity was questionable. I say, “What are you talking about?” I don’t hear many musicians talking like that. I don’t hear that so much any more, but I certainly heard it – mostly about cocaine. I don’t know if they felt that they didn’t get their share or had to badmouth him. I don’t know.

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10 Dexter Gordon

Kathy Sloane Indiana University Press ePub

How could you not fall in love
with Dexter Gordon?

Eddie Marshall

Ronnie Matthews

When Maxine [Gordon] got Dexter to come back [from Europe in 1973], there was a group with Woody Shaw, Junior Cook, Stafford James, and me. And so Maxine put Dexter with us – the opening salvo, so to speak – just to reintroduce him to America. Then, shortly after that, Dexter got his own group.

Todd Barkan

We put things together; that’s part of what we do as jazz club owners. Or you try to do that. They don’t just put themselves together. It’s a community effort; it’s an industry effort. You work with booking agents, managers, artists. . . . It always has to be based on the music. The music has to come first for these things to work at all. You know, some bass players like playing with other drummers better. You don’t put them together like you’re putting chess pieces on a chessboard. Or like you would Parcheesi tiles on a Parcheesi board. It’s based upon the nuances and idiosyncrasies and the symbiotic relationships of one jazz musician and another. The reason that the quartet works with George Cables, Rufus Reid, Eddie Gladden, and Dexter Gordon has to do with both their personal feelings and personal idiosyncrasies as people first, as well as their ability to get along. On the bandstand, Dexter was far behind the beat, and George Cables was ahead of the beat, and Rufus Reid and Eddie Gladden would flow back and forth – and that’s what made the whole pendulum work. That was the Dexter Gordon Quartet. It was Dexter’s overall whahh that carried the whole thing forward, but the elements were based upon the tongue-and-groove of Rufus Reid and Eddie Gladden swinging so hard, George Cables being slightly in front of the beat, Dexter Gordon being behind the beat. That’s what made that whole group have so much swing and such intensive propulsiveness.

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13 Orrin Orates

Kathy Sloane Indiana University Press ePub

I remember Keystone Korner in these early
days, and, you must remember, I come
from New York; I am a jazz person.

Orrin Keepnews

Orrin Keepnews

First of all, to set the time context, I got to San Francisco in October 1972 and I came out here specifically to work for Fantasy Records, which at that time had just acquired all the masters that had originally been Riverside Records. Fantasy was a San Francisco–based, very esoteric, mostly jazz label, although Lenny Bruce was one of their biggest items. That’s where Dave Brubeck started. And that label was taken over by a guy, Saul Zaentz, who had been the office staff and sales manager there. He had decided to take a chance with the band of the kid in the mailroom: John Fogarty. The band was Creedence Clearwater, which became the biggest thing [in the music industry]. Suddenly, Fantasy found itself with all the money in the world and, possibly the first time this had ever happened, used it to further their devotion to jazz.

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2 Begin the Beguine

Kathy Sloane Indiana University Press ePub

I guess it was his [Todd Barkan’s]
booking and his relationship with
musicians that made it happen. But it
was the rest of us that made it work.

Helen Wray

Flicka McGurrin

I was working at Caesar’s Latin Palace, the Latin club that Cesar Ascarrunz owned. I had started there as a cocktail waitress, but it was way out in the Mission and it was dangerous, and I was a single parent with children. I just needed a job that was no responsibility, which was quick cash, which was why I was cocktail waitressing. And so I realized that, since jazz was my first love, it made more sense to work at Keystone Korner because I lived right up the street.

So I went one night and asked for a job, and Todd’s partner, whose name escapes me, interviewed me out in the street and literally hired me on the spot. Bald guy – remember him? And so I thought, “Well, perfect. Now I’m working in one of my favorite places.” I loved working there.

Helen Wray

I came over here [from Australia] in 1976 for a skiing vacation with a suitcase and a pair of skis, and I’m still here. I went back to visit, but one thing led to another and I just stayed.

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9 Bobby and Bags

Kathy Sloane Indiana University Press ePub

He just hits one note. He
crushed me with one note.

Eddie Marshall quoting Bobby
Hutcherson on Milt Jackson

Stuart Kremsky

The thing about Keystone, and what I think Todd’s greatest skill was, was putting together interesting combinations of musicians. Nobody else would put Max Roach and Art Blakey on the same bill, but Todd did that.

Todd Barkan

I put lots and lots of bands together. I mean, that’s part of what I do and what I’ve done for the last thirty years. I do it here [in New York] at Dizzy’s. And I did it there in the ’70s – put bands together. I’m the one that put George Cables with Charles McPherson.

Putting Bobby Hutcherson and Milt Jackson together was something that I just wanted to do for many years. I knew [from] Bobby that Milt was his hero, number one, and I knew that Milt was often very resistant about the idea of playing with another vibes player. That took quite a long time to happen. Milt Jackson had to approve it because Milt was the boss. Bobby was only one of his children. One of his progeny. Now, Bobby is the boss and Stefon Harris and Joe Locke are his children. Generations. I suggested that [they perform together] three or four times before it happened. And even the week that it happened, it wasn’t supposed to happen. Milt said, “No.” Then, finally, in the middle of the week, he said, “Man, have Bobby come in.” And, of course, I didn’t have to bend Bobby’s arm; Bobby wanted to do it from the very beginning. So Bobby came, and it was a great thing.

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