A conversation with Berkeley Fudge

Nov 10, 2015
transcribed by Lauren Miller

Berkeley Fudge is a veteran performer who has appeared with Sonny Stitt, Lena Horne, Gene Ammons, Roland Kirk, Don Patterson, Ruth Brown, Esther Phillips, The Impressions, The O’Jays, Bobby Vee, Thelma Houston, Lonnie Smith, and Richard Davis. He had served as artist in residence at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In addition to having taught at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, has had served as the Milwaukee Jazz Experience’s Director of Music Activities and an instructor for their Central City Jazz Ensemble as well as Music Director for the YWCA Global Career Academy. As leader of the Berkeley Fudge Quartet, he received the 2001 WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) Award for Best Traditional Jazz Performer and Milwaukee Arts Board’s Outstanding Artist of the Year in 2003. Mr. Fudge was a faculty member of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music from 1972-2010, was a member of We Six and can be heard on the 2005 CD “Bird Say”.

In this interview, Berkeley Fudge (BF), Jamie Breiwick (JB), Adekola Adedapo (AA), Mark Davis (MD)

That’s where the players were… the young guys. Ever since there has been music. It was always the young guys that were doing it.


JB: Did you get to know Rashaan (Roland Kirk) pretty well when he was here?

BF: Knew him real good.

JB: Did you guys hang out, like practice together or play together ever?

BF: I would sit in with him, you know, because he came with Chuck Christopher, the alto player, and Don Richardson.

JB: Okay, I haven’t heard those names before.

BF: He was from a part of Canada.

JB: From Canada?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Manty told me about him, I think.

BF: The drummer was, ah… Rodger Rhodes was the bass player.

JB: Rodger Rhodes? Ok.

BF: I forget the drummers name but he was with…

JB: But he was with Roland (Kirk) though? Or no?

BF: Yeah, yeah the drummer’s dead.

JB: So when he came here, did he come here for a specific gig? Or was he just.. why did he come here?

BF: He came here, in fact…  down at the, Curro’s. And he came down there before he was.

JB: So he came here before he lived here.

BF: Uh-huh.

JB: Would he come through with his own group or would he play with guys from here?

BF: He had his own group… him!

BF: Oh, it was just him.

BF: He was a group!

JB: Did he play solo?

BF: No, I mean he traveled my himself.

JB: He would hire guys from here when he’d play, whats what I meant.

BF: Wherever he went, he would need to.

JB: He would hire local guys. Was that common back then? Musicians would come through and they would play with local guys? Or more so..

BF: Some guys would.

JB: Who were some of your teachers, your early teachers on saxophone.

BF: I didn’t have none.

JB: You never had a formal teacher at all?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Who were some of your mentors?

BF: Hattush (Alexander), he was.

JB: How much older?

BF: He was older than me.

JB: But you looked up to him.

BF: Yeah.

JB: When did he come to Milwaukee? Because he was from St. Louis, right?

BF: He came here..  I remember, when he came here I… one night I remember I was with my wife and I said lets stop in this club and look whats happening and he was playing there with a organ group and that’s where I met him.

JB: That was the first time you heard him and the first time you met him.

BF: Jimmy Cox?

JB: Jimmy Cox, yeah, I have a picture of him.

BF: You got Jimmy cox?

JB: Yeah. Was he a drummer?

BF: No. Piano.

JB: Piano! Piano. I think I heard his name. So you and Hattush had a good rapport together.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Was Bobby Burdette, do you remember him?

BF: Yeah, him too.

JB: He owned a club right?

BF: Polka Dot.

JB: Polka Dot, yeah. And you played there?

BF: Yeah.

JB: I am going to find some more of these pictures to show you. Did you ever know Jabbo Smith at all?

BF: Yeah.

JB: The trumpet player? He’s somebody I kind of became fascinated with.

BF: When he came, when he came back

JB: Because he lived here for a long time, but he wasn’t playing at all. Right?

BF: Yeah

JB: But he wasn’t playing at all, right?

BF: When they found him, I played with him twice.

JB: But he was more of a Dixieland like, an older type of player, right? So when you were playing with him what was the gig like?

BF: We played a lot of, you know.

JB: Standards?

BF: Standards.

JB: Here is a picture of Skip Crumbey-Bey, from a news article. Here’s Berk, playing soprano. Eddie Harris?

BF: Yeah?

JB: Did you know Eddie Harris pretty well?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Now he didn’t live here at all did he?

BF: Chicago.

JB: But he would come through right?

BF: Yeah but he was from Chicago.

JB: But he would come through here and play up here, right?

BF: Yeah.

JB: This is when he played at the Jazz Gallery… Eddie Harris. And Frank Morgan? What was your first experience in music? Did you play, like was it in school or just because of your family or were there any musicians in your household?

BF: No. I was just playing and practicing.

JB: But was it in school though? Is that how you started?

BF: Yeah, I started in the school band.

JB: What school did you go to?

BF: North Division.. and they had, the teachers at that time, they put together a jazz group. We started a little jazz band after school, you know.

JB: When was that? Do you remember what year that would have been?

BF: Back in the 50s. I used to be play with Frank Gay.

JB: Frank Gay? Was he a trumpet player?

BF: Leonard Gay. And I played in his big band. And then there was the alto, Little Bo we called him.

JB: Little what?

BF: Little Bo. But he had a band, I played with him. That was how, I just played around with those bands. Then the Conservatory they got the CETA program.

JB: Right, so I have a picture of that actually, I can show you. And they would get gigs,  opportunities through that?

BF: That’s when I started teaching at the Conservatory.

JB: Was that 70s?

BF: The program was at the Conservatory.

JB: So it was affiliated with the conservatory? See I have a picture of that band here, somewhere. Yeah, here it is. Sam Belton, Skip (Crumbey-Bey), Melvin (Rhyne), Manty (Ellis), Eddie Baker, Brian (Lynch), Sunny Greer, Rick Chamicki, this is Leroy Hawkins, and guitar is Ralph Davis.

BF: Yeah.

JB: But was it kind of housed in the Conservatory or the band was affiliated with the Conservatory?

BF: See, the CETA program was made up out of the Conservatory.

JB: So you were involved with it.

BF: Yeah, I was one of the teachers and we had a certain amount of students together for a band.

JB: Which is what Brian (Lynch) was.

BF: Yeah. This band here.

JB: And Sam was probably a student then too right? Belton?

BF: Yeah and Manty was there.

JB: So north division high school, you said you started playing in big bands. Were you playing like, Basie, Ellington kind of tunes? Or what kind of music was it that you were playing? Standard big band kind of stuff?

BF: Yeah, and original stuff. A little bit of everything.

JB: Original stuff? What type of gigs would you play at with that group? What kind of performances would you guys do?

BF: Dances… I am trying to think, it used to be a lot of dances, a lot of dances. We played a lot of dances. Floor shows. It was a big band but they had singers, dancers with them too.

JB: So it would be a big band, there would be dancers, singers, etc… I am trying to see some of these articles. Here is one I found from the flame? Satin Doll.. stuff like that. So you would be backing up someone like that.

BF: So she was in…and when I got in… I started having my own group.

JB: Yeah, yeah.

BF: And she was a dancer in my group.

JB: She was a dancer in with group so if you…

BF: The name of the club was the Satin Doll.

JB: Yes.

BF: You know the club Satin Doll.

JB: Right, right.

BF: I was working there and she was a dancer there. So then I had a dancer, a female impersonator.

JB: When you say female impersonator, what does that mean? Is it someone who would dress up in drag or

BF: A guy. Yeah and I …

JB: I was going to say, they do that stuff now. That’s a big thing now.

*laughter

BF: And there was a… I had a MC. I forget his name but he played trombone and he told jokes.

JB: Okay, he did everything. Did he do things in-between sets? When you weren’t playing music he would get up there and tell jokes?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Who else was in your group when you started doing that?

BF: Me, well I did that with a quartet…with organ. John Elam…

JB: John Elam?

BF: John Elam and Frank Gordon

JB: Frank Gordon.. trumpet?

BF: yeah, and he’s from here! Oh, and Wendell Bond.

JB: Wendell Bond. He’s a drummer.

BF: Yeah, that was it. That was the group.

JB: So, that was sort of your first solo group where you led the band.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Did you work at Curro’s ever?

BF: No.

JB: Was that more national names?

BF: Yeah, they brought name acts in.

JB: So they didn’t have local musicians playing at Curro’s? It was only touring bands or whatever?

BF: Well I take that back. They had local groups there. I never did work there.

JB: Did you go hear a lot of music there though?

BF: Oh yeah.

JB: Who did you hear there?

BF: Uh.. shit. Uh.

JB: You said you were there when Herbie was there.

BF: Yeah

JB: With Donald Byrd?

BF: I can’t remember, I can’t remember.

JB: I got some stuff on Bunky Green in here too. Did you know Bunky pretty well?

BF: Yeah, that was my teacher right there.

JB: So Bunky was your teacher!

BF: Yeah.

JB: So did you study with him a little bit or just kind of picked his brain on some stuff and he showed you a lot of stuff?

BF: I studied with him.

JB: Yeah you studied with him.

BF: It’s been a while, I forgot that.

JB: No that’s good. That’s why we’re doing this. I got some stuff on Bunky in here.

BF: I studied with Willie Pickens too.

JB: Yeah Willie at the 2600 club, do you remember that place at all? On Teutonia. I can tell you what year this was, hold on… that was 1959. Was that too early?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Ok, heres another one. Bunky at the Celebrity Club? 12th Street? That’s 57. That’s even earlier, actually ’57.

Bobby Burdette. Thelma’s Backdoor? On Juneau?  So you began teaching at the conservatory, right at the beginning, when they started it? When the jazz program started? Were you there right away or did you come in a little bit later?

BF: I came in a little bit later. I came in when they brought the CETA program.

JB: Okay Jack Rice? Bass player?

BF: I’ve played with him. He had a club. I played with him. What was his name? He had a club up on Green Bay.  Anyways, I played with him.

JB: Jack Rice’s picture. Jack Rice, Manty Ellis on guitar, Joe Delough on drums.

BF: Yeah.

JB: That’s from 1959. So when were your first real gigs in Milwaukee, was it in the 60s, early 60s? Would you say?

BF: When I what?

JB: When you started playing out, professionally.

BF: Um.. I think it was about the 60s and I was with Mary Davis She had a group with Victor Soward, me, her and Victor Soward.

JB: Trio, organ, sax and drums. Were you guys playing standards mostly?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Yeah. Did you ever do any original stuff at all?

BF: We never did.

JB: Standards, yeah. This was cool. This is a drummer, Jimmy Duncan?

BF: Yeah? Jimmy Duncan. That’s his brother, Charlie Duncan that was here.

JB: Charlie Duncan played with Roland Kirk and that was Jimmy’s brother. This is a place called the Gallery Lounge… There’s a picture of Scat. So what were your more memorable people you heard in Milwaukee

BF: Roland Kirk… I’ve got to think back… there’s a lot of people we could talk about. I don’t remember their names because I was still kind of young.

JB: But Roland, he must have made an impression on you when you heard him.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Yeah.  Here, this is kind of interesting. This is an article on Cannonball Adderley when he performed here in 1968. I am trying to see where it was he played at.

BF: The last gig he played here was at Summerfest.

JB: Yeah it was 73…75.

BF: Yeah. He played that gig at Summerfest and I think he went to Indiana and that’s where he died.

JB: Here’s an article I found on Stanley Turrentine playing in Milwaukee. Did he come through here regularly? Would he stay here a little bit?

BF: He came here because Manty (Ellis) and Victor Soward, they left here with him. They played with Stanley.

JB: So they went out with him for a little while? They toured with him.

BF: Yeah.

JB: This is a place called Kings IV? I don’t know, what that is. On Water St.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Do you remember that place though?

BF: Yeah I used to work there.

JB: They had three floors.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Did you see this photo? That’s Stanley Turrentine on the third floor, the restaurant on the second floor and Manty (Ellis) on the first floor. So, Manty toured with him though.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Did you get to know Stanley at all?

BF: I know him but I never worked with him.

JB: Never worked with him. When you met Roland Kirk, was he doing all the… playing with two and three saxophones or was he just playing one horn

BF: He always did that.

JB: You taught so many people too, that moved on and have done things.

BF: It had something to do with it.

JB: It had something to do with you! Brian Lynch, of course.

BF: I have known Brian since he was…

JB: A young kid, probably, right?

BF: He was about 15 or so, or something.

JB: Right. (David) Hazeltine?

BF: I never knew Brian when he couldn’t play, he always…

JB: He always could play, even as a young kid.

(photo by Derek Pinkham)

Brian Lynch / Jeff Hamann / Berkeley Fudge – Jazz Estate early 2000’s (Pinkham)

BF: Yeah. He used to come in and sit in, would let him sit in you know, and he could always play. Always could play.

JB: Hazeltine? Did you use him, did you hire him when he was a young player too?

BF: Yeah.

JB: That was one thing I always remember about you and Manty, both, that you would hire the young kids coming up. I remember, even when I was around… Joe Sanders. I remember that you guys would use Joe and Romarcus, even when they were just in high school.

BF: Yeah

JB: That was something I always remembered and I thought that was really interesting and very cool, the fact that you gave those guys opportunities to play.

BF: That’s where the players were.. the young guys. Ever since there has been music. It was always the young guys were doing it.

JB: Passionate, dedicated. How about Gerald Cannon? You remember Gerald when he came up? Did you work with him a lot too when he was young?

BF: I played with him until he left. In fact we had a group, called The elements.

JB: The Elements?

BF: I worked in that group.

JB: What was that like? Was it a jazz group?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Who else was in that?

BF: Mike Plog, me and Gerald (Cannon)

JB: Carl Allen? Did you know Carl when he was coming up a little bit too?

BF: He did the same thing with him. He went to college or something. He was playing with Manty (Ellis).

JB: Carl was?

BF: Yeah. And Freddie Hubbard… He left here with Freddie Hubbard.

JB: Carl did. Yeah. So he went right from being here to going out with Freddie?

BF: He was playing with me and playing with Manty.

JB: And that probably would have been the 80s?

BF: Oh, I don’t know.

JB: Mid 80s maybe?

BF: Oh, I don’t know when it was but…

JB: Or maybe actually the 70s? And his brother Eddie is a trumpet player.

BF: I didn’t know Eddie really well until he left here. Then I got to know him.

JB: You got to know him after he was gone.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Well, I know Brian Lynch still looks to you as one of his mentors, you know, and I think that’s really important, that mentorship relationship. And even the opportunity I had to play with you with We Six was so important to me and my development. Just getting a chance to hear you regularly and play gigs with you, that was important to me.  Just that connection with, you came up through the real deal. Playing be-bop, that was when the thing was happening, you know.

BF: Yeah, well when I came into it, it was kind of fading out.

JB: It was fading out?

BF: Yeah.

JB: What was fading out?

BF: You know…

JB: Be-bop? Just jazz?

BF: I can only speak for myself… in the 50’s, around that time it was real popular.

JB: In the 50s?

BF: Yeah. Bad musicians.

JB: So you’re saying even as early as the 60s, it was fading out.

BF: Yeah, you know.

JB: Why? What was the reason for that do you think?

BF: I don’t know.

JB: Various, other types of music? Like n roll?

BF: Yeah when that started coming out, when it started getting popular you know. For a while, it was that type of music that reigned.

JB: There was an article I found. It was Dick Smith actually, talking about that. He was saying how rock n roll was too simple, like he didn’t even want to play anymore because that was what was popular, it was kind of interesting to hear him say those kind of things. Was it the clubs? There were less clubs that were doing it?  Because people weren’t coming out and supporting it as much? Or…

BF: When I started, there used to be the bands. It was big bands, you know.

JB: All over the place.

BF: Right. Or small groups came out while I was starting.

JB: What were some of the popular bands around town that you can remember. If you could remember some from the 50s, who were like the prominent cats that you looked up to. You mentioned Hattush a little bit later on but do you remember any of the guys, when you were younger, that you remember looking up to?

BF: I can’t remember back then.

JB: What about… Was Bobby Burdette? Was he a pretty influential guy on the scene back then?

BF: He was like a Stanley Turrentine.

JB: Kind of soulful, kind of bluesy? Yeah.

BF: Yeah, that kind of player.

JB: So Bunky was your teacher. Tell me more about that. What was that like, studying with Bunky Green? Was he a little older than you?

BF: Yeah.

JB: He’s still around. He’s in Florida, right?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Teaching or something?

BF: He might be in New York now. I know last time I talked to him he was talking about moving.

JB: From Florida. I am really interested in what kind of things he shared with you. Like when you say you studied with him, would he show you harmonic things, like scales and chords?

BF: I studied with him… Frank Gordon studied with him. Another saxophone player named John Pruitt studied with him. He was real… at that time. He was very, very strong as a player. Very… real strong.

JB: All the keys, arpeggios…

BF: Very strong. He was very strong on them.

JB: So he would make you go through all the scales, all the keys.

BF: If he ever seen any of us all playing, he’d quit teaching.

JB: If he saw you all playing, he would quit teaching?

BF: Because he knew we were ready.

JB: Would he give you stuff to listen to? Like certain artists, or records to listen to? Or…

BF: He’d go down and he’d take his horn out and play for us.

JB: He’d take his horn out and he’d demonstrate.

BF: When he practiced, he’d make us sit there.

JB: and listen to him?

BF: Ask questions. He wanted to make sure that every time we came to lessons we always had all 12, before we did anything we had to play our scales … every one… all 12… all of them.

JB: Would he have you learning tunes also?

BF: No.

JB: He didn’t even get that far? It was more harmony, scales and theory?

BF: He would give us licks to work on.

JB: Would he tell you, like this is Charlie Parker lick and would he say stuff like that, or he wouldn’t tell you what it was, he would just say…

BF: No. It was probably some of his stuff.

JB: Yeah

BF: And reading.

JB: Reading. Would he have you working out of a book for that? Like a method book or etudes book, or something like that.

BF: After school I would practice reading with him, you know.

JB: How old were you when you were studying with him. High school? Or older?

BF: Uh… I had just got out of high school. Just got out of high school.

JB: You were playing in those big bands though.

BF: Right.

JB: That was primarily what you were doing.

BF: Yeah.

JB: How about, just listening wise, who were some of your favorite musicians that you would listen to? Coltrane? Hank Mobley?

BF: Coltrane, yeah. He had just come out.

JB: He had just come out when you were starting. So he wasn’t as influential, necessarily, probably.

BF: He was bad.

JB: Right, everyone knew that.

BF: Sonny Stitt.

JB: Stitt, right. Which he stayed in Milwaukee for a little while right?

BF: He had an auntie here.

JB: in the 70s, right. He had an aunt here. That’s what Manty was saying. What about some of the early, pre- bebop guys, like Coleman Hawkins, did you check him out much?

BF: No.

JB: No. So more later guys? So who were your favorite?

BF: Aw man, I liked Bunky… I liked Sonny Stitt. All them guys that were playing.

JB: Sonny Rollins.

BF: Yeah.

JB: He’s one of my favorites

BF: He was just coming out then. He was just coming out.

JB: Who was the cat in Chicago. Von Freeman? Was he…

BF: Yeah, I didn’t know too much about him.

JB: He was always in Chicago, he just stayed in Chicago.

BF: Yeah, always in Chicago

JB: But like you stayed here, he stayed there

BF: Yeah.

JB: Did you work in Chicago much?

BF: I played there but not much.

JB: A little bit.

BF: Yeah.

JB: It’s probably pretty competitive on the scene down there, I would imagine.

BF: When I played there it was for a dance gig.

JB: You’ll have to tell me about.. I always heard the story about you playing with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Did you go to Europe or something like that with them?

BF: Not with them.

JB: What was it with?

BF: uh…

JB: Lester Bowie?

BF: No.

JB: No. Roscoe Mitchell?

BF: I played with him too but it wasn’t him.

JB: But were they part of that scene though? The AACM thing? Did you remember?

BF: We went to Holland!

JB: What was that like?

BF: It was nice! Yeah.

JB: Was it clubs? Or concert halls?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Concert halls.

BF: Uh.. Ari Brown was there.

JB: Ari Brown, okay.

BF: He was in that band.. uh, I don’t know. I’d see those guys but I can’t remember their names.

JB: Malachi Favors? Was he one of those?

BF: He wasn’t in there.

JB: He wasn’t one of those, okay. But it was affiliated with the AACM when you went over there with them. How did you get in to that? How did you get hooked up with that.

BF: I don’t know! All I know…

JB: Just got a call? A call, out of the blue for it?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Nice.

BF: I didn’t know.. and the music…

JB: Was it like free improvisation, or?

BF:  What was this guy’s name? To me, it was the hardest music I ever played.

JB: It was all composed, written out.

BF: He had numbers where they had Richard Abrams, all his solos and that shit.

JB: It was all written out.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Jeez!

BF: And I often wondered if he knew what that shit was supposed to sound like, you know.

**laughs**

JB: That’s hilarious. Well that had to be quite the experience to go to Europe and … how was the treatment over there? Was it like staying in nice hotels and stuff like that … or how long were you out there?

BF: Two weeks

JB: Two weeks, yeah that’s substantial.

BF: They had some kind of concert that went on for two weeks.

JB: That’s like a festival or something? Or was it just a concert series?

BF: It was like a series and there were a lot of groups around town staying at the same time.

JB: This is kind of interesting. It came up in an interview with Kaye Berigan, he was talking about how things were kind of racially divided and there were clubs that were all white musicians and there were clubs that were all black musicians. I forget what the name of the… Elbow Room? Did you ever work at a place called the Elbow Room?

BF: I didn’t work there.

JB: and he said there was a place right across the street from it that was called the Tunnel Inn.

BF: Yeah.

JB: The Tunnel Inn?

BF: Dick Reudebusch was there.

JB: Yeah! Dick Reudebusch, the trumpet player. He said the place across the street was more… did you see a lot of … and see it today still… like how it was kind of racially divided, how the scene was kind of segregated. Did you see that at all back then?

BF: Well, there was a lot of rooms you didn’t work.

JB: Yeah, because you couldn’t. Yeah, would you say it was like overtly… you wouldn’t be allowed to play there because you were black?

BF: Definitely.

JB: .. Or you wouldn’t even try to play there because you knew that…

BF: …you couldn’t get the gig.

JB: You couldn’t get the gig.

BF: Yeah, yeah. That… that… exactly. That started playing out. After awhile I was working at the Elbow Room.

JB: So you played there?

BF: Elbow Room.

JB: Elbow room, yeah. But not the Tunnel Inn? No.

BF: That stage is there.

JB: Yeah.. did you ever have to deal with overtly.. discrimination, as far as that goes?

BF: What do you mean?

JB: As far as people didn’t hire you because you were black or anything like that? Did you ever see any of that?

BF: Well… it was going on… I didn’t see it. A lot of places that were known to be like that, I didn’t even go there.

JB: You didn’t even go there. Some places had a reputation and you would just avoid that?

BF: Yeah. I never was involved in that.

JB: Right, right. Because that was a pretty, I mean there were riots and that was going on, right? During the Civil Rights Era in the 60s?

BF: They had an area around Milwaukee. Little area that they all were.

JB: There was another scene that was white musicians and they would play there or whatever?

BF: Yeah.

JB: To a certain degree, though, there had to be a mutual respect though if you could play.. to a certain degree. Right? I’m thinking a cat like Brian, or somebody comes along…

BF: Well….

JB: That kind of rises above that, a little bit? Maybe?

BF:  Yeah.

JB: Right, exactly.

BF: At that time there were a lot of clubs.

JB: Right. So there wasn’t any shortage of gigs, necessarily.

BF: Yeah. A lot of clubs… a lot of clubs…

Adekola Adedapo (AA) joins the conversation.

JB: I have this map. I started to show this to Adekola though… this map. So this is cool. Divines Ballroom; Billie Holiday. Louis Armstrong… it’s the Eagles Ballroom.

AA: Oh my god. Okay okay. I know where that is.

JB: You got to check this one out. It’s Wisconsin and 24th.

AA: Wow.

JB: So it was called Divines ballroom. This one I found. It was Billie Holiday at the Rendezvous ballroom.

AA: Oh stop.

JB: Rendezvous Ballroom… Spelled R-O-N-D-E-V-O-O.

Adekola: Oh no!

billieholliday_ms_8_8_53

JB: at 1118 North Avenue. It’s a church now. I bet they don’t have any idea that Billie sang there.

AA: They never. Jamie this is fabulous.

JB: You know what I mean? I have to find that one. I have to show you that one.

BF: That place…

JB: You remember that place?! The Rondevoo? You Remember that? I have to show you this. Rondevoo Ballroom

AA: Oh wow

JB: With Billie Holiday.

AA: RON-DE-VOO. Stop it! *laughter*

JB: Cabaret dance with a star-studded show. Reserve early. Look at the phone number. CO 40506.

AA: I know that’s right. I still .. my aunt still has H23222 in Chicago…. RON-DE-VOO.

JB: Did you ever work that place? Ron-de-voo ballroom?

BF: No. But, there was a…

JB: But you remember it. Look at this though.. nightly through Thursday, August 11…

JB: So you never worked there?

BF: Rondevoo.. that uh…At that time, that was like as far North you could go it you were a Negroe.

JB: Are you serious. That was north avenue!

BF: Yeah.

JB: You couldn’t go past North Avenue?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Are you serious?

BF: Yeah, that was like going out of town.

JB: Really!

BF: Yeah.

JB: That makes sense though. Because Manty (Ellis) would always talk about that and say he never left a 10 block square or 10 block radius.

AA: When I got here in ’73…

JB: See, that’s what I am talking about.. that’s what I am curious about.

AA: There was still a boundary.

BF: Rondevoo. You know. They handled a lot of name acts.

JB: Well yeah, Billie Holiday played there. That’s about as big as it gets!

BF: That’s where… wrestling.

JB: Wrestling?

BF: Yeah. That’s where you could go and see all the wrestlers.

JB: At the ballroom?

BF: Yeah. Ron-de-voo Ballroom.

JB: No way. I looked up that address and it’s a church now. I wonder if it’s the same building. Was it a pretty big place?

BF: It seemed big at that time.

JB: Yeah. When you’re young. So you couldn’t cross over north avenue?

BF: No.

JB: And south… going north.

BF: North Avenue was the farthest North that we would go and then it went down to Maple, Vliet. It went over to 3rd Street and 12th Street.

JB: What would happen?

BF: We would go. And then it went round to uh… Winnebego. And it went over to 3rd st. then over to 12th st. That was the area.

JB: Downtown, yeah. What would.. what would happen? I’m just curious.

BF: That was the just the area we were in.

JB: You just wouldn’t do it.

AA: You would be risking your life… literally.

JB: Right.

AA: Because maybe someone would mess with you, and if they did they’d get away with it.

JB: Right.And you know what? Not much has changed though! Right?

AA: The bounderies …

JB: …are different. Spread out. But has anything really changed?

AA: No.

JB: Not really.

AA: Not really. The boundaries expanded but its still bad.

JB: Right.. with Michael Brown… Treyvon Martin… you know what I mean. Is it any different? It’s not.

AA: All somebody has to do is decide

JB: So it was kind of just an unwritten thing, like you don’t cross over North Avenue.

AA: Not if you like living, And if you stand your ground…

JB: Right

AA: You could be in legal trouble.

BF: It looked different then too. At that time, North Avenue, that was all businesses. There were a lot of businesses.

JB: Shops.

BF: Yeah.

JB: Retail.

BF: Yeah. There wasn’t much living, you know.

JB: At the brass rail. That’s what we were talking about too. That was another one. That was the place the owner got murdered by the mafia.

AA: Well, yeah. they were in control of a lot of it. I knew a manager there.

BF: Yeah.

JB: …and they dumped him in Mequon. Manty told me that the cat that owned the brass rail stole a bunch of alcohol from the mob and that was why, because he would, kind of flirt… he wasn’t in the mob but like but would kind of flirt with the mob.. . He stole this shipment of alcohol from their club and he just disappeared. To this day, it’s unsolved. And Manty was like, “Shit. I know who killed him!”

AA: Oh my god.

JB: Manty knew, because he was in with that. They offered him Alfie’s.

AA: I heard…

JB: They offered him the club

AA: I heard the same story. That was pretty much standard in those days.

JB: Right. What Manty said, was that they kept him working, though. They gave him all kinds of gigs like Alfie’s. A club called Sardino’s.

AA:  It was okay for a while but then they started telling me how to dress. And they start telling you what to sing. And I knew that this wasn’t going to be good…

JB: Creepy, and over the line a bit.

Adekola: Something in my soul said “Don’t do that…”

JB: Don’t do that, and its not yourself.

AA: And I appreciate what they did for music.

JB: Just creating opportunities.

AA: Yeah.

BF: They owned all the clubs. All of those clubs, like Kings IV.

JB: Kings IV. That was on Water Street.

BF: Yeah, they had like, 10 clubs all of them downtown.

JB: Music in all of them probably.

BF: And they didn’t like you to work nowhere but for them.

JB: Right, right. Fazio’s Supper Club.

BF: Yeah

AA: Yeah.

JB: The Tunnel Inn…Club JJ? Did you ever on Vliet. Did you ever know that place?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Jimmy Russell, Hammond organ.

BF: That club, Hattush was with him.

JB: The Flame, The Clock Lounge…

BF: There were some cats… they used to work all over. Pinky Black, the piano player.

JB: Why was that?

BF: I don’t know. They had that thing.

JB: They had a good sales pitch or whatever. Business mentality. Did you ever know that guy, Ziggy Malonzi? Did you work with him at all?

BF: Big band. He had a big band here. He played piano.

JB: Did you get an opportunity to play with guys that came through.. you know, you mentioned Sonny Stitt. Like when he came here, did you get a chance to hang with him?

BF: No.

JB: No… Manty played with him though.

BF: I played, maybe, two gigs with Sonny Stitt.

JB: okay

BF: One was at… the House of corrections.

JB: House of corrections?

BF: One of those gigs… and a nightclub.

JB: What was that gig like, was it a small group? Alto and tenor? You were playing tenor and he was playing alto?

BF: It was quartet.

JB: That had to be intimidating.

BF: Organ and drums.

JB: Woo! I can’t even imagine having to play next to Sonny Stitt though!

BF: Yeah…

JB: That’d be a learning experience… to say the least.

BF: Well, you play what you know. As long as the tunes that you play be tunes that you’d know … you’d be alright. You can only do what you can do.

JB: Right.

BF: Do what you could do… but you could do it.

JB: Here’s one from the Elbow Room. Claude Dorsey. Do you know him? Piano Player?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Mason Street. That is right up here.

BF: Huh?

JB: It was on Mason Street. Right on the river. Right up here. I got some others. Here’s from the 60’s. This would be more your time. Here’s Pinky Black. You just mentioned, Pinky Black was a piano player?

BF: Yeah

JB: Yeah. Mary Reed. Did you know who that was at all?

BF: No.

JB: Okay. Celebrity club?

BF: Yeah.

JB: On 12th.

BF: That was THEE jazz club.

JB: That was the place?

BF: Yeah, the top.

JB: Celebrity club was?

BF: Yeah.

Mark Davis (MD) joins the conversation

JB: Berk was just saying about like, I was kind of curious about how the racial dynamic … he said you couldn’t cross North Avenue. Coming north.

Mark: Why?

BF: You know.. the boundaries.

MD: North Avenue was?

BF: At that time.

Mark: Really?

BF: Because when you go North of North Avenue.. those were a lot of houses, you know now. There weren’t houses and stuff.

JB: But it was like country.

BF: There were many houses. Some places… some places like Silverspring.

JB: Yeah.. that was like… on another planet

BF: There was nothing out there but weeds and sticks.

JB: That’s crazy. But you brought up Pinky black.

MD: Who was Pinky Black?

JB: Piano player… Berk mentioned How was … were they good?

BF: Used to always play what we called the hard keys.

JB: Hard keys?

BF: D flat, and all that other stuff.

JB: Yeah.

Adekola: Something about D flat.

JB: Db is the key. That’s the key. All Monk’s ballads are in D flat. Well, almost every one of monks ballads are in Db.

AA: And that’s my natural ballad key.

Mark: …or End in D  flat.

JB: Monk’s Mood… The attic? Did you ever know that place at all?

AA: I heard about the attic.

JB: 2nd and Wisconsin. That must have been.. I mean. That’s right down here. Right Downtown. That’s like Water and Wisconsin.  I’ll tell you what year that was. That’s from ’68.

AA: oh wow!

JB: So that’s not even that old. The attic.. yeah. Louis Armstrong in Milwaukee. That was Wauwatosa High School. Louis Armstrong.

AA: You have to research Jabbo Smith.

JB: Yeah Jabbo Smith is another one.

MD: What about Wauwatosa High School?

AA: He was here …

JB: Yeah that’s Louis Armstrong at Wauwatosa High School.

MD: Yeah that was before East. It was just Wauwatosa.

JB: But it was East.

MD: Well now it’s East.

JB: This is, uh, Cannonball.

MD: When was that?

JB: Hold on, I’ll tell you. That was… 1961… 1,400 fans at the Wauwatosa High school auditorium. Here’s Berkeley Fudge at the Avant Guard.

AA: Oh Wow!

JB: So this news article. Rich Manglesdorf?

AA: Ah. Yeah, he used to write a lot.

JB: Berkeley Fudge appearded Tuesday, july 2nd … this is 19…. Is there a year? ’68. 1968.

AA: I think he played bass but he used to write a lot.

JB: John Blams on piano.

BF: that should be…

JB: That’s a typo! John Elam! You mentioned him. That was your quartet. Milt Wilson on bass. And Wendell Bond? That’s exactly what you told me. That was his first band. What did John Elam sound like on the piano? What was his sound like. Kind of modern?

AA: Didn’t he do the organ too?

JB: Be bop?

BF: He could, and he would … he could chord alright.

JB: He could chord alright?

BF: He could chord all over.

JB: He could comp, yeah. Wendell Bond… were they like, your age?

BF: Uh… Milt. I met him about the same time I met Hattush. Hattush came here with him.

JB: From St. Louis?

BF: Yeah.

MD: They came together?

BF: Yeah.

JB: So, Milt Wilson was from St. Louis.

Mark: Berk did you ever study with Hattush? Or was he closer to your age … or you already established when he got here?

BF: I mean, I got something from him.

MD: How old was he? Was he a lot older than you?

BF: He was a little older than I was.

JB: They even say what tunes you were doing: Alabama, Africa, Maiden Voyage, When Sunny Gets Blue. Here’s Dick Smith?

BF: Let me see.

JB: Dan Reed? Do you know dan reed?

BF: Danny. We called him Danny Reed.

JB: Danny reed.

BF: He left here and moved to Chicago

JB: Ace Hill?

AA: I don’t remember him I remember Dick Smith.

BF: I remember  him.

JB: Dick Smith. That was Victor’s first drum teacher. I interviewed Victor and he talked about Dick a lot.

AA: He was big when I first came out.

JB: Manty, he said.. he compared him to Elvin Jones and that he was ahead of his time – as early as the 40s. And cats wouldn’t hire him because he was sort of, cutting edge. And he said that Art Blakey and Max Roach and those guys, knew of him.

AA: He was, the guy. He was the guy. When I first came here in the 70’s, Dick Smith was still someone to recognize.

Mark: The early 70s, was that?

AA: Yup.

JB: Napoli knew him. I don’t know if he studied with him or…

Adekola: Yeah. Napoli, Crumbey-Bey…

JB: The Lamp Post? Did you know that place.

AA: Martha Artis. Martha. You need to go see her.

BF: Is she 105?

**laughs**

AA: No. Martha, she would kill you. Haha! I think she’s probably 94 this Christmas.

BF: A guy called me, Rolla Armstead.

JB: Yeah

BF: It was uh.. I think it was his cousin… he told me she was one hundred and five.

JB: Yeah, that’s crazy Driftwood lounge? Did you ever work at that place? On Capital?

BF: He was the only guy I ever knew who worked there.

JB: Les Czimber.  So he was kind of, like the house guy.

BF: Called him Tarzan.

JB: Tarzan?

BF: Yeah… he had the nickname Tarzan.

JB: Kaye told me he was from Hungary; he was a Hungarian Refugee. Kaye mentioned that guy. The Bombay Bicycle club? Buddy Montgomery played there.

BF: That was 5th and Wisconsin right? 5th and Wisconsin?

JB: 5th and Wisconsin.. yeah. ?? Plaza. It’s the Hilton now. The Crown Room? That was here, upstairs. How about the Jazz Gallery?

BF: Yeah.

JB: Did you work there a lot, on center street?

BF: I worked there.

JB: They were open from 1978 to 1984

BF: It changed groups… like the Estate.

JB: Different people playing there all the time. Did you get a chance to hear anybody there?

BF: At the Estate?

JB: No at the Jazz Gallery

BF: They had uh… they had, I got a book here at home.

JB: Yeah. I have it. We approached them about doing music there again. Because it’s still there and it’s an art gallery. We were trying to get them to have some music there again. And they were digging through a bunch of papers and they came across this book- like a scrap book. And it has all these photos and calendars and stuff. And they gave me a copy of it and then they realized it was kind of like a gold-mine. All this history that Chuck had saved, so then they made a bunch of copies of it.  But you played there a lot, right?

BF: It was like, every night there was something.

JB: Who did you play there with when you were working there. Everyone, probably.. right?

BF: Mostly stuff I did there with my own group.

JB: that would have been the same quartet? Or by then, was it different?

BF: Uh.. it might have been the same ones. Or different people. We played with different people. But they would have national acts, and local stuff. A mixture of stuff.

JB: Right

BF: They had a mixture of stuff.

JB: Right, right, right. This is Eddie Harris with Manty, Skip, Victor Soward. Freddie Hubbard at Teddy’s. Jabbo Smith. Tell me more about Jabbo Smith. Did you know him that well or no?

BF: No

JB: But you got the chance to play with him a couple times

BF: I met him and he did a gig somewhere and he worked with him, but I didn’t really get to know him.

JB: Bill Milkowski… Here’s an article on you.

BF: What year is that?

JB: This is from 1980. See this one I found?

AA: Oh my god! Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

JB: Yeah

AA: Who is that?! Look at that??

JB: It says “Disco hurt live music.”

AA: Oh my god. It’s evolutionary.

*laughter

JB: I have some more too. Here’s another one. Check that out. That’d be a great shot.

AA: Berkeley, you look like your son!

MD: Who the hell is that?!

*laughter

JB: James Benton?

BF: Yeah uh.. he died.

JB: He died?

BF: He died

MD: Brain cancer? What was it?

BF: Some kind of brain …

MD: He was pretty young, huh.

BF: Yeah.

MD: Really young.

MD: Did he have a brother that played to or something?

BF: He did.

MD: I think this is him.

BF: I think he played a lot with Buddy.

MD: Did he? With Buddy Montgomery.

BF: Yeah.

MD: he was a good bass player?

BF: Yeah. Then he started playing with some kind of rhythm and blues group. He got out of the jazz scene for a awhile.

JB: Benton? James Benton?

BF: Yeah, and then he changed back.

JB: He had some sort of recording didn’t he?  I remember hearing some kind of recording he was on.

BF: I don’t know.

AA: Look at all this stuff! Where’d you get this?!

MD: Isn’t this cool?

JB: I’ve got over 200 articles, dating to the 40s. Check this out, check this shit out.

Cab Colloway, 1948. The Showboat.

AA: I remember Berkeley got me a gig with his nephew. When they were here.. that was back in early 2000s, wasn’t it?

JB: That was 1948, that one was.

AA: Yeah, that was the year I was born. That was not …

JB: What was his name. I can’t remember. I did a gig with him.

AA: I can’t remember.. it was his nephew.

JB: Because he’s leading the band, right?

AA: Yeah..but no it was really good.

JB: I got it by decade, so you can look and scroll through them. Another one of Berk. He’s always got some bad ass shirt on.

Mark: That’s a bad ass shirt

JB: That’s from 1973, that one.

Mark: Nice

JB: Sonya Robinson… do you remember her? Violin player?

BF: She went to New York.

JB: Yeah,  she’s still in New York. Check this one out. John Hawks Pub, 1979. You’re on here, Berk. I think, I think.. Yeah! Right here!

AA: I was going to say, you should be.

JB: Spelled your name wrong again.

AA: Jack Hannah, Victor Soward … oh my god.

JB: 1979, John Hawks pub. So your band was Jack Hannah?  What did he play?

BF: Bass.

JB: And then Vic Soward … I would love to hear that! I would love to hear that trio. I would love to hear that trio.

BF: That was a little group I worked with.

JB: I love to hear that though, without the chords. I like playing without piano sometimes too.

BF: We were pretty much…

JB: Sonny Rollins did that in the 50s. Bass and drums.

BF: John Hawks. Where was John Hawks

JB: It’s right on the river. This one is on Broadway

AA: That was the old one

JB: This is the old one. But now its on the river. Right off Water Street. And Brian had a gig there… Tom favor? Hazeltine? Scott Napoli. Al Anderson?  Manty, Vic Soward, Skip Crumbey-Bey, Jack Hannah… What was his story?

BF: He came here, he was uh.. he came here with a piano trio. While he was here, he played some stuff with us too. And then the piano player left and he stayed.

JB: He stayed!

BF: Stayed here for awhile.. a short guy.

JB: A short guy? Nice. Here is another one. You’re on this one too. The Petite Louve. It’s a restaurant.

BF: Who’s there?

JB: It was a club, a restaurant. Lee Cowan/Berkeley Fudge duo.

BF: Oh yeah.  Where were we? Was that called The Speakeasy?

JB: This is called the Petite Louve. Above Benjamin’s Two restaurant?  On Cass and Wells.

BF: Do you have a picture of that?

JB: No, just this. (shows advertisement) Barry Velleman sent me this. Barry had that.

BF: I was playing there with a group that was just the piano.

JB: Oh yeah, here’s this one too. Berekeley Fudge Trio- at the Avant Garde.

BF: Zubair Salahuddin

JB: Yeah! That’s it! And Vic Soward on drums. What was Zubair’s deal? What was his thing?

BF: He was uh…

JB: Was he from here?

BF: No. He was a Muslim.

JB: Do you remember him at all? Where was he from?

AA: I think he was from Chicago.

JB: I know that was killin’… I wish I could here that right now.

AA: You know it was.

JB: Check this. I got a video to show you too.

JB: There is no one in town playing like this.. not even close. No one close.

AA: No one close… we really miss you. God, you just don’t know.
… I think I was there!

JB: This was 1994. It was an event for Scat Johnson. This is killing!

AA: I think I was there! Probably.

JB: 1994

AA: I was here! I remember Billy and Mark. … That’s Kaye Berigan. Wow!

JB: I got some stuff of Melvin on here too

Adekola: Okay, we got to do this again.