Inside the Mind of Isadora


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Sunday Song – St. James Infirmary

Pete Fountian.web

Autographed photo of Pete Fountain @ Pete’s Place

St James Infirmary-Pete Fountain

The great and beloved clarinetist Pete Fountain’s died Saturday, August 6, 2016 of heart failure, according to his son-in-law/manager Benny Harrell. He was 86.

Pete Fountain – Basin Street Blues

I met Pete Fountain when I took my husband to New Orleans for his birthday in 1966. Jazz was, is and will always been a big part of his life. Fountain was his clarinet idol since the day he picked up the instrument.

We were visiting many, many night clubs while vacationing. We came across Pete Fountain’s club on Bourbon Street called  ‘Pete’s Place’. We made reservations for that evening.

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From my Scrapbook – Pete’s Place

There was no fee to get in but there was a drink minimum of $4.50 per person. This was in 1966. As non-drinkers, we had to consume a lot of soda to meet that fee.

He was exceptional as a showman. During his 20 minute intermission, he came over to our table. You can imagine how awestruck my husband was. We thought he was coming over to us because of all the cheering during his performance.

Instead, he came over to us and said, “Hey kids, how would you like to come back stage after the show and take lots of pictures.”

It’s should be no surprise that we said, “Yes, at the same time”.

“Great! Because your flash is blinding me,” he said with a chuckle as he walked away.

Pete Fountian - Isa.web

From my Scrapbook – Me & Pete Fountain

Pete Fountain brought the New Orleans Jazz style to mainstream music through his many solo appearances on the Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson shows.

Peter Dewey Fountain Jr. was born in New Orleans on July 3, 1930, and was exposed from an early age to the lively small-group jazz that was an integral part of that city’s atmosphere. Inspired by Benny Goodman and the New Orleans clarinetist Irving Fazola and by a family doctor who recommended that he learn a wind instrument to strengthen his weak lungs. He began playing clarinet at age 12. 2016©Los Angeles Times

The World of Jazz has lost a great musician.
R.I.P. Pete Fountain

2016©Isadora DeLaVega

When The Saints Go Marching In

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Hobbies Emerge from Odd Places

Clarinet 2.web

Hobbies Emerge from Odd Places

A hobby is an activity or an interest that creates relaxation or pleasure. It’s important to have a distraction from our regular responsibilities. It helps us unwind. We get to focus on something enjoyable or amusing in our leisure time.

There are people who collect stamps or coins; others might like woodcarving. Women enjoy fabric crafts such as quilting or yarn crafts like knitting and crocheting. Hobbies come about in various ways. Clarinet playing is a hobby my husband continues to take pleasure in and has enjoyed for many years. He finds the fingering helps with his dexterity. He feels it mentally challenging and calming. This is the story of how he was introduced to this instrument.

When he was a young boy, growing up in an impoverished Brooklyn ghetto, he was fortunate to have a neighbor who was a retired professional clarinet player. Mr. Rosenbaum, in his youth, had played with the philharmonic orchestra in New York City. It was ironic that he should find himself in an all Latin very poor neighborhood.

All of the tenement buildings in the neighborhood were 6 stories high with 4 apartments on each floor. If you weren’t familiar with the area you would assume it was some type of confinement camp. The buildings were a dreary chalk grey.

It was a struggle for Mr. Rosenbaum to climb up and down the concrete stairs to do his errands. Like many elderly people, he did without many things because of it. He was in his late 70’s. He was in need of help.
One day, he saw this 7 year old boy playing a game of skully on the sidewalk.

tumblr_ltp5j3v0oq1qewdf8o1_400Skully (also called skelly, skelsy, skellzies, scully, tops or caps) is a children’s game played on the streets of New York City and other urban areas. Sketched on the street usually in chalk, a skully board allows a game for two to six players. A sidewalk is sometimes used, offering greater protection from vehicular traffic; however, the asphalt on a typical city street is smoother and provides better game play than a bumpy cement sidewalk. Information from Wikipedia

Mr. Rosenbaum approached the boy and asked if he’d like to learn to play the clarinet.

(Obviously, this was before – Stranger Danger – or – Never Talk to Strangers)

“What’s a clarinet?” the boy asked.

The thought that he could share his love for this instrument with a boy who had so little provoked a spark in Mr. Rosenbaum. A smile came across his face as he sat down on a concrete step to explain to him what it was. He shared his love for this instrument. He explained that with it he could be happy even if no one was around to hear him play.

This boy who always needed to be occupied and loved challenges agreed to run errands for Mr. Rosenbaum in exchange for clarinet lessons. The boy’s mother was surprised that this professional musician would share his talent with her son. They weren’t able to afford an instrument. His lessons were his only means of practicing. He joined band several years later in grade school. Finally, he was able to have a clarinet to enjoy at home. He picked up an interest in other instruments along the way and became proficient in trumpet, cornet and saxophone.

Mr. Rosenbaum had exposed him to classical music. The impact of their brief encounter influenced his love for all types of music but in time his love of jazz rose to the top as his favorite.

The boy who was now turning into a young man continued to run errands for Mr. Rosenbaum until he was taken away to a nursing home. He never saw him again.

A man in need shared his gift of music and showed an underprivileged boy that in helping others you can change a life. *****

Copyright 2014©written and photography by Isadora

***** The boy later saved a child from a gunman and became the highest decorated policeman in the NYPD in 1994. He was awarded the Medal of Valor by Mayor Abe Beam.
***** I am working on his memoir.

Clarinet.web

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