Friday, February 12, 2016

Rubbng Elbows

 Reflecting on our many years on this good Earth, I firmly believe we were born in a time and place that has few equals in the "Best Time and Place Ever Be Born" conversation.

It's too bad that fact didn't become obvious to most of us until our journey is almost over.

But, that's the way it always is.  Some things that seem perfectly ordinary and mundane at the time, often become much more memorable in hindsight.

As meaningful and personally significant my move to Washington and working up here was to me, there was also a little bit of "history" involved.  It's talked about a lot at the old "Broadcaster Reunions" I attend. It's called  "Rubbing Elbows" with history.

No matter how good, or how bad a reporter for a major newspaper or radio/TV station was, an interview with the President or Senator or  an important government official...or"covering" news events of significance, etc. had the aura of history about it. The Network reporters were most likely involved in the major events of the day, but even guys on the mostly entertainment end of the media chain, like me, often became involved. I'm thinking specifically of my interview with William Greer, the driver of the Presidential Limousine in Dallas that fateful day our President was assassinated.

I don't believe anybody thinks about "history" as we were go about our daily routines;  just doing our jobs.

Looking back, unknown to me, my first small "brush" came less than a week after I moved to this town. That was Spring of 1961. My employer, WTOP-TV CHS...hadn't even changed my name.  I had hardly unpacked.

 Someone had mentioned to me that if I loved good music, jazz in particular, I should check out a small obscure night spot called "The Showboat Lounge"  It featured a very fine local guitarist by the name of Charlie Byrd. 

Charlie Byrd

Well, it didn't take more than 10 minutes of sitting in that small room listening to the soft and rhythmic sounds of his acoustic guitar accompanied by bass and get me totally "hooked."
I became a regular at that little establishment, and would insist on showing off my "discovery' to a number of my friends from Charlotte who were passing through town.

They usually agreed with me that there was something unique and different about many of the tunes Charlie performed.

There was.

It was the rhythm.  It was kinda like a "samba beat"...but....different.  Charlie, who later became a good friend,  told me that he first heard it in Brazil, where he, and Washington Jazz DJ Felix Grant, had just returned from a State Department sponsored tour of South America.
Charlie Byrd and Felix Grant

Felix and he were both intrigued . Felix talked about it endlessly on the radio....and Charlie played it at that little club on 18th Street in Washington, DC.

He called it simply, Brazilian music.  But he said, down there that call it "Bossa Nova."

That's the name that stuck. 

And, the rest, as they say, is history.

It became THE music of the 60's.  The record album he recorded with Saxophonist Stan Getz, to whom he had also introduced the Brazillian music, became one of the best selling albums ever. 

I'm proud to say that Charlie honored me by appearing on my first TV talk show and a number of times after that.

And what did I personally do to be involved in this small, soon to be forgotten, moment in history?

Not a damm thing.

But, I was there.