Sunday, 26 June 2011

About Timme

Jazz attracted not only passion but patronage from Europe. The support given to Thelonious Monk by Pannonica de Koenigswarter is well known. A new book, Nica’s Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness was published just last week. My copy is winging its way across the Atlantic as I write these words, I hope.

And another book is to be published shortly, too: this, a translation of the memoirs of the ‘Jazz Baron’, Timme Rosenkrantz the centenary of whose birth we celebrate this year. Rosenkrantz came from Denmark and said he could trace his lineage all the way back to the Rosenkrantz of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Timme went to the United States in search of jazz in 1934 and became an habitué of the Harlem speakeasies, of dance clubs, recording studios and theatres. He was a spectacularly unsuccessful entrepreneur: a magazine he began called Swing Music lasted only a single issue, his record shop closed after only twelve months and the two jazz clubs he founded Chez Inez (named for the love of his life, vocalist Inez Cavanaugh) and Timme’s Club soon folded. The tragedy of Rosenkrantz and guilders, perhaps...

He was, perhaps, an amateur in the best and truest sense of the word – he did what he did for the love of the music.

In Music Is My Mistress, Duke Ellington wrote of him:

“Baron Timme Rosenkrantz was of noble Danish blood, but he was not known to us by his formal title in Harlem, on Broadway, the Champs Élysées, State Street, or Central Avenue. To us he was known simply as Timme.

Although he was an artist in his own right, a writer, a poet, and a wit extraordinaire, you will not find volumes of his works that are truly representative of his literary stature. The reason for that is that he was a very unselfish man who dedicated himself to the great musicians he loved and to the music they played.

There is therefore no way now of properly evaluating this man’s potential, because his patronage of music consumed most of his time.”

Timme’s greatest legacy, in many ways, is as the Boswell of the big bands, as it were, chronicling the lives of the musicians through his writing for such journals as Down Beat and Metronome and in his photographs, collected in the book poignantly entitled Is This To Be My Souvenir?

Now, Fradley Garner, International Editor of Jersey Jazz, the journal of the New Jersey Jazz Society, has translated the memoirs of Timme Rosenkrantz. dus med Jazzen: mine Jazz memoirer was published originally in Copenhagen by Chr. Erichsens Forlag in 1964. The English translation will be published in the Autumn by Scarecrow Press as part of their Studies in Jazz series. You can read more about Timme Rosenkrantz and the forthcoming book at the website devoted to its publication here.

In 1938, Timme persuaded the president of RCA Victor Records to let him cherry pick the cream of session players to make a record. In the event, two 78 rpm records were issued which introduced vocalist Inez Cavanaugh, tenor player Don Byas and trombonist Tyree Glenn.

The full recording details are as follows:

Timme Rosenkrantz And His Barrelhouse Barons, recorded in New York 27 May, 1938

Pers.: Rex Stewart, Billy Hicks (tp); Tyree Glenn (tb,vib), Rudy Williams, Russell Procope (as); Don Byas (ts); Billy Kyle (p), Brick Fleagle (g), Walther Page (b), Jo Jones (dm).

And to celebrate the occasion, for your listening pleasure, here are those four sides. Happy Birthday, Timme Rosenkrantz!

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