...is an American icon. Most, if not all, of us have followed his career with interest. Going way back, my Hawaiian jazz singer friend Jimmy Borges told me once about being the resident host and singer at a club in San Francisco called the Hungry I (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungry_i), which was the jumping-off place for the careers of many entertainment luminaries, including Cosby. But my story picks up a little further along:
In the early 1970s, I played trombone in the orchestra of Don Ho, the famous Hawaiian entertainer. Don was always on the lookout for celebrities in the audience whom he could ask to join him (or goad into joining) onstage and wow the audience. Cosby was in one night, and Don invited him up. Cos came onstage and looked for a place he could comfortably stand and deliver his routine du jour. The stage was crowded with musicians, as Don had added a string section, and Cos looked around, then down at me (I was seated in the front of the orchestra), grinned, and settled his rather large foot right on top of mine. And proceeded to do fifteen minutes, while standing on my foot.
Cosby went on to become a superstar in the true sense of the word, but he is a jazz lover at heart, and one of his regular "gigs" has been hosting the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. On one occasion when I was performing there with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Cos introduced the band, and as the turnstile cranked us around to face the audience, I jumped up, ran over to him, and said something like, "Hey, Man, I'm the dude whose foot you stood on at the Don Ho show thirty-five years ago." He responded, "Was that You??" and gave me a big bear hug.
Therein lies the tale of my close encounter(s) with one of my favorites: I Spy, Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, etc. Perhaps there'll be another meeting down the road. Fond memories...
Kenny Burrell turned 75 on July 31, 2006. That night he finished a five-day run at Yoshi's in Oakland and then the next day played with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra in Santa Cruz. This CD commemorates the occasion with performances from both nights, presenting Burrell’s sparkling guitar in settings that range from an intimate trio to fronting Wilson's 17 –piece band. The material reflects Burrell's long career and broad associations. Among the small group tracks, there's a beautiful quartet sequence of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," J.J. Johnson's "Lament," and Miles Davis's "All Blues," each demonstrating Burrell's consummate lyricism and absolute mastery of the mainstream modern. The big-band tracks pick up on associations with Duke Ellington, including the elegant "Sophisticated Lady" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," with the 88-year-old Wilson providing a sparkling foundation that has Burrell and company soaring. Best of all is the extended "A Night in Tunisia" with a septet that has organist Joey DeFrancesco and flutist Hubert Laws. --Stuart Broomer