Friday, August 19, 2011

Phil Schaap

In 1961 and 1962, I had a camper at Chic-a-Lac named Phil Schaap. When I tell this story about Phil, many people remember that he was related to Dick Schaap, probably the most famous sports writer and personality in the New York area at the time. I always wondered what became of Phil, but it wasn't until a half-century later that I had my answer. Phil is one of the foremost jazz historians in the country, and there is no better expert on the life and music of Charlie “Bird” Parker then he is. For 30 years, he has produced and hosted a daily morning show on WKCR, the radio station of Columbia University, entitled "Bird Flight", devoted mainly to the music of Charlie Parker. He is also the Curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center. There is an article on Phil on Wikipedia, which gives his biography, and lists all his accomplishments as a jazz archivist, record producer, educator, author, and critic. You can read the Wikipedia article by clicking here. Make sure you click on all of the “External links" listed at the bottom of the page.
Being a recent born again music nut, I began listening regularly to Phil's radio show on the way into work, and was delighted to hear that he occasionally hosts a drop-in all day and evening open house in the atrium at Jazz at Lincoln Center in the Time-Warner Building, where jazz aficionados can and do hang out with Phil and his well known musician guests, and talk jazz.  A while back, I did just that – I dropped in and joined about 40 or 50 other people, all of whom knew much more about jazz than I did. While I was there, Lou Donaldson, who played saxophone with legends such as Milt Jackson, Thelonious Monk, and Clifford Brown, and was a member of the Art Blakey Quintet, and Delfeayo Marsalis, who besides being a member of the incredible Marsalis family of jazz musicians, is a gifted trombonist and producer of acoustic jazz recordings, dropped by. It was wonderful to hear them swap stories with Phil and many of the old timers in the group. During one of the few lulls in the evening, I sidled up to Phil and told him that I was there for two reasons: the first, because I love hearing him talk about jazz, and the second because I was his counselor at Camp Chic-a-Lac 50 years ago. It was great seeing his reaction and spending some time with him.
Of course I took some photos for the blog and am finally getting around to posting them.  Then make sure you play the JALC video. 
[click on any photo to enlarge]
 
The informal jazz drop-in
 
Phil autographing his latest book

With Lou Donaldson

With Delfeayo Marsalis