Friday, February 22, 2013

The Duke and the Lake

By Chet Williamson

It’s the lake whose name even locals have trouble pronouncing. Commonly known as Webster Lake, school children from Webster, MA and other town smarties know it by its Indian name:  Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.

It’s a huge body of water and according to the Webster Times has the longest name – 45 letters -- of any lake in America. Its history is deep and one with jazz connections.

Webster Times photo of the daytime fire, courtesy of OldeWebster

Before it was destroyed by fire on October 6, 1938, the Mohegan Dance Pavilion, located on the banks of the lake, was a regular stop for touring big bands. The Duke Ellington Orchestra was one of the many to grace its stage.

Ellington memorialized this once great Nipmuc fish hole in song. Although never recorded and remains in his book of unpublished pieces, the great American composer dubbed his tune, “Chau-go-ga-gog man chau-ga-gog chau buna-gung a maug.”  

It was written around the same time as the bandleader’s appearance at the pavilion. Unfortunately, another song about the large pond was published before Ellington’s.

That song, "The Lake Song: By Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagunga­maugg" was a minor hit for Fred Waring and his Pennslyvanians. It was penned by Will Heagney, Will Mahoney and Bert Reed and first published by the Harry Von Tilzer Music Company. Von Tilzer is the author of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."  

Another song about the lake was recorded by Ray Bolger and Ethel Merman for the Decca label in the 1950s. That tune is titled, "The Lake Song "Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg" and was written by Walter Cohen and Frank Perlman.

A young Ethel Merman

Ray Bolger

Possibly deterred by the success of the other 1930's song, Ellington left his Webster Lake tune in his library. In 1992, Worcester Telegram & Gazette reporter Edward Patenaude noted that a Lois C. Rosebrooks, of Upper Gore Road, Webster, had a copy of the song.

Daughter Introduces Mother to Duke. 

In the 1960s, Mrs. Rosebrooks', daughter, Lois M. Rosebrooks, was a professional singer who had performed with Ellington in his revered sacred concerts. 

In 1971, the Duke Ellington Orchestra performed a benefit concert at the Webster Town Hall for the Hubbard Regional Hospital Guild, for which Rosebrooks’ mother was president.

Patenaude said, “Mrs. Rosebrooks remembers the day she became president of the guild. ‘I came home and told George  [husband] about it. As it happened, the 'Merv Griffin Show' was on TV. Ellington was a guest. I looked at the TV and said, "Why not?' "

Rosebrooks said that it took some time, but arrangements were finally made and Ellington performed the benefit concert on April 18, 1971.

Tom Reney
WFCR radio host Tom Reney attended the show and wrote about it, saying, “my teenage friend Nic and I seemed the only people in the house under 50. How thrilled we were when, as we stood in front of the town hall an hour before the concert, the Ellington bus pulled up and the driver asked, 'Hey fellas, where's Duke Ellington playing?' And how dismayed when we saw one of Webster's finest search the bus once the band had disembarked."

Playing in the band at the time was tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, who grew up in Brockton and familiar with Lake Webster.

Paul Gonsalves and Duke Ellington

“When calling the roll of players at the Webster concert, Ellington managed to bring even more of a local flavor to Gonsalves' regional origins,” Reney recalled. “Here Gonsalves was introduced as having been born, 'just to the east of Lake Chargogagogg Manchaugagogg Chaubunagungamaugg.' The house responded with delight over the ease with which Ellington, ever to the manner-born, excelled as a name-dropper.”

Patenaude says at the concert Ellington was introduced to the parents of Lois M. Rosebrooks. Speaking of the jazzman, she said, “[He] was really a nice man. He was so relaxed and elegant, one of those people who just loved everybody.”

In conversation Ellington made mention of the 1930's Mohegan Dance Pavilion. "Some of the band members had been with him then,” Rosebrook said. “He  pointed them out to me, introducing them. That's when I found out about his lake song. 'I'd like to have a copy of it,'" she asked Ellington directly. True to his word, the composer mailed her an autographed copy.

Retired from the southern Worcester county bureau of the T&G for the past 10 years, Patenaude says that the show was poorly attended. “They did a lousy job promoting it. I didn’t get the assignment for the story until two days before the event. The funny thing is, they gave Ellington a plaque for playing. It’s up in the medical unit in what used to be the hospital.”  
Matt Savage

Sudbury pianist Matt Savage is also quite familiar with Duke's song of the Lake. In 2006, he traveled to New York City to view original Ellington scores. He was preparing to perform at the Duke Ellington Birthday Celebration at MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art).

During the trip he was introduced to fellow pianist Garry Dial at the Manhattan School of Music. Dial who has cataloged material written by Duke that were found in box by the Ellington family after the composer’s death. One of the pieces was the song of the lake.

Garry Dial
Filmmaker Gary Keys also attended the viewing. He is the creator of Reminiscing in Tempo, an Ellington bio-pic.  

“Keys and his crew came to the college to film Matt and Garry sorting through Duke’s music and to look through the music themselves…. Everyone in then room was so thrilled to be looking at pieces written by Duke," wrote Diane Savage on the young pianist's website. 

Among the more than 300 pieces was Ellington’s “Chau-go-ga-gog man chau-ga-gog chau buna-gung a maug.”  (Note: The correct spelling is different,  “Chargoggagoggmanchaugagoggchaubunagungamaugg”).   

“Since Matt is a geography enthusiast, he knew about this lake and has always gotten a kick from the name.  He was SO thrilled that Duke Ellington had seen the SAME lake and even written a SONG about it.  Matt placed the music on the piano, played the tune and even sang the lyrics to the song.  All of this was filmed by Gary Keys and his crew…. Needless to say, Matt chose this song as one of the tunes he will play to celebrate Duke Ellington’s birthday at MoMA,” Diane Savage said.

Recently speaking about the trip Matt Savage said, 
"It was truly an amazing experience looking through all those tunes. I remember seeing the Far East Suite pieces. So beautiful. And I still actually remember how to play the Webster Lake piece. It's a pretty easy song to play (but not to sing!) and you cannot forget a song that's that silly." 

According to Patenaude, the Ellington song about Webster Lake assumes knowledge of the alleged Indian dispute over fishing rights. “In the story," he wrote, "made up during the early part of the century, the lake's three interconnecting ponds are mentioned, and it is claimed two tribes of Indians lived on opposite ends of the lake. At some point, Ellington came across the fanciful interpretation of the lake's long name - Chargoggagogg, You fish on your side; Manchauggagogg, I fish on my side; and Chaubunagungamaugg, Nobody fish in the middle.”

Here are the lyrics:

"On Lake Char-gogg-a-gogg,
You fish on your side,
I fish on my side,
Nobody fishes in the mid-dle.

On Lake Char-gogg-a-gogg,
Love calls from his side,
Love calls from her side,
Just to sing to-ge-ther a lit-tle

Two tribes kept on verge of war
till brave boy took girl for squaw.
Now pa-poose take full charge of lake,
Chief on each side, grand-father-in-law.

You fish on my side,
I fish on your side,
Everybody fish in the mid-dle."

This is a work in progress. Send all comments to: Thank you. 


Special thanks to Carla Manzi for all her assistance. See:

Tom Reney hosts Jazz a la Mode on WFCR/88.5FM, where he produced a year-long series, The World of Duke Ellington, during Ellington's centennial year.

Reney on the Song

Another version of the tune sung by Bartlett High

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stan Getz Quartet Live at Sir Morgan’s Cove, 1973

By Chet Williamson

Compared to the club’s most storied appearance, this show on Green Street may not even be considered. After all, people around here are still recovering from the Rolling Stones’ hit and run performance in 1981.

To Worcester jazz heads, however, it is just as highly regarded. As one maven of the music put it, “Stan Getz made the Cove famous eight years before the Stones rolled into town.”

Discovering that the gig was recorded is more than enough reason to celebrate. This is big. What if after all these years a tape of the Stones show was rediscovered and made available – which inevitably will happen -- it would sell out in a day, no doubt purchased by the many who claimed that they were there.

In 1973, Stan Getz was already a living legend. He was a survivor whose roller-coaster career reached back to the 1940s, one that was battered by heroin addictions and battled-tested by passing trends within the music from bebop to cool school, soul jazz, the bossa nova, free jazz, jazz fusion, and beyond. Through it all, he remained a masterful improviser who continued to work on his art. In a word, Getz was great. 

In 1973, he was in our town to mystify us with his magic. Not just for “One Night Only.” The stay was actually for the week -- which makes you think that maybe other nights were also recorded.

The hype on the CD reads: “ALL TRACKS PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED!” It also states, “This release presents a complete never before heard set by an unusual formation of the Stan Getz Quartet, which would never record again. This is one of only three-known collaborations between Getz and Dave Holland.

“Among the highlights are Getz’s only known renditions of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Pannonica’ and Dave Holland’s ‘Oracle’ (which Holland wouldn’t record until 1986), a poignant version of Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Lush Life,’ the second out of only two existing Getz’ readings of ‘Tangerine’ (the first dates from 1953), and a seven-minute interview with the saxophonist.”

Jack Tubert's column on Stan Kenton and Getz 
Yes, there is much to celebrate about this disc, but there is also a great deal to reconsider, critique, and frankly, dismiss.

First the facts: It should be noted that these recordings have been floating around the internet for years. It was finally unofficially released on the Gambit label last year -- unofficially, because the Getz family did not know of its existence.

Stan Getz Quartet, Live at Sir Morgan’s Cove, 1973 is a two-disc release with 18-tracks and an eight-page booklet. The band is saxophonist Getz, pianist Albert Bailey, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Billy Hart.

Albert Dailey
Thirteen of the songs are from the Worcester date. Five other selections are bonus tracks that feature Getz in performance with the Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra. That date was recorded in Funkhaus, Hannover, Germany on October 26, 1971, two years prior to the Cove set. 

Bassist Dave Holland

The Cove set list looks like this: “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Original Ballad,” “La Fiesta,” “Pannonica,” “Tangerine,” “The Oracle,” “What is This Thing Called Love,” “Invitation,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “Litha,” “500 Miles High,” and “Lush Life.” 

Billy Hart

There is a short (7:29) interview conducted by a trio of unknown interviewers, who do not identify what they represent. The conversation begins with an unidentified person stating that he is accompanied by “Vance (possibly Clayton Vancellette of the Toe Tappin’ Trad Trip, heard on WICN at the time) and Bobbie Bean.” At the end of the conversation, Getz thanks someone named Joe.

Getz is relaxed and forthright. He fields a host of inane questions professionally and generously. At one point, he admits to liking the process of “live recordings very much” -- possibly the only redeeming tidbit of the entire conversation.
The performance of the music is what to like here. Getz presents a program that features an artist in transition. He offers material that is current and cutting edge as well as standard repertoire.

Six months earlier he fronted a band that featured pianist Chick Corea. Getz plays three of Chick’s tunes in this show – “La Fiesta,” “Litha,” and “500 Miles High.” As mentioned he also performs Holland’s “Oracle,” new music from the bassist who had previously performed with Miles Davis as part of the famous Bitches Brew sessions. The other more modern leaning piece is Monk’s “Pannonica.”   

Getz is in fine form. His signature sound is well represented. The performance showcases his lyricism and command of his instrument. He is a masterful improviser who never loses his threads. His band mates are well chosen accompanists who each have moments of brilliance throughout.  

As precious a recording this is, it also suffers from a spate of sins – mostly those of omission, including the fact that little or no information is offered about the “who-what-whys-and-hows” of capturing the performance. All we know is that it was released in 2011 by Gambit Records.

Jerry Kopoyan, of Immedia, sound company in Worcester, did engineering for WAAF in the 1970s. He says he was often hired to do remote broadcasts from the Cove for the station at the time. He recalls being on hand for many shows, including Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Rich, among others, but says he does not remember the Getz show. He did however say that, “most of the shows were not recorded. They were simply broadcast live and forgotten.”

As mentioned, the Getz show had been floating around for years.
On Bit Torrent site has the date set as 1972. They also note that it was recorded directly off the soundboard -- “apparently recorded for a radio broadcast.”

According to another bit torrent page (see listing below) the show was captured by “SBD open reel, recorded on-stage” and 1st Generation Ampex 456 reels.”

The unidentified person who uploaded the recording offers its history, saying, “A friend copied these off the masters in the 1970s. He tried to conserve tape by stopping/starting the recording machine after songs so as not to record the space between songs. He seems to have missed some of the beginnings of some of the songs (but at least one or two may be from the master).

“He gave me the reels in exchange for blanks in the early 1980s. I had to bake the tapes before digitizing. I am not planning on doing this again, but if folks think it’s necessary, then I'm willing to do it (but it might be as long as a year before I get around to it).

“Apparently the original recordist had many recordings of great jazz from the ‘50s through the ‘70s. He moved away from
Worcester to Florida and retired and my friend lost track of him.”

Before signing off, the Bit Torrent person offers his opinion of the music: “This is a beautiful recording and super sweet show with incredible musicians. Stan Getz' sax is so typically smooth, while the totally under-appreciated Albert Dailey just dances on the keys. Dave Holland and Billy Hart – well, what can you say? Man! What a quartet!”

The most glaring omission is an incomplete version of “Litha.” What’s interesting here is unlike other sites that have downloaded the show, this person lists the song titles in the same order of the Gambit release.  

Club History

Sir Morgan's Cove at 139 Green Street
The original Sir Morgan’s Cove was opened in 1969 at 139 Green Street. By 1973, the owners, Gus Giordano and John Rassias, sold the club to Pete Zavares, who also owned a restaurant on Main Street -- the one with the ship façade jutting out into the sidewalk. After a series of fires and new owners, the venue was moved to its current locale at 89 Green Street, home to the Lucky Dog Café.

The Yankee Whaler, one-time Main Street restaurant

In its heyday, the Cove offered more than just classic rock. At one point, jazz and blues were staples on the menu and such acts as Mose Allison, Les McCann, George Benson, as well as Muddy Waters, and James Cotton appeared on the marquee. In fact, Willie Dixon and the Chicago Blues All-stars appeared at club Oct. 29th through November 4, 1973.

Many of the entertainers played for an entire week. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette ads, Stan Getz was booked Nov. 12-18 in 1973. Therefore, the November 11th recording date is suspect.

Back cover of Sir Morgan's CD

Other than the fact that the piano is dreadfully out of tune and the 2-CD disc is outrageously priced -- anywhere between $23-30 -- Stan Getz Quartet Live at Sir Morgan’s Cove 1973 is must have for all local jazz fans – especially if you were there.

This is a work in progress. Send all comments to: Thank you. 


Bit torrent 
* note that 1973 is missing

Rare video and recordings of Stan at:

Bill Hart on working with Getz

Dave Holland working with Stan Getz in Chicago Jazz Magazine --

Clips from the period …

Getz from People Time documentary --


Getz --