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A Kiss to Build a Dream On *PIC*

It took almost a year before I could bring myself to play one of Doc Cheatham's CD's. Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham of Nashville, Tennessee passed away in 1997 at age 91. The night before he was doing what he loved best, playing his horn before an audience in Washington DC.

By the time I met Doc he was well into his 70's and playing Sunday brunch at Sweet Basil. His friend in Paris, jazz legend Arthur Briggs, told me to look him up when I returned to New York. Arthur and Doc had known each other for decades. Doc was with Sam Wooding's band in Europe right before the outbreak of WW II. Doc and the band took one of the last boats back to America while Arthur stayed on in Paris to endure the Nazi occupation. Doc and Arthur stayed in touch after the war and often wrote to each other. Much to my chagrin, I found out that "Uncle Arthur" was well informed about my visits to Sweet Basil by a studied eye from the bandstand.

There was always an international crowd of jazz groupies who would jostle each other to chat with Doc between sets. He would slowly make the rounds of the tables greeting everyone like an ambassador. His only vice he told me was a cigar.... pretty well chewed but rarely lit as I remember. He often played the crowds' requests "I Want a Little Girl" and "I Guess I'll take the Papers and Go Home." I was always thrilled when Doc played without my asking "A Kiss to Build a Dream On." He knew how much I loved this Louis Armstrong classic.

Doc Cheatham is still an inspiration for us all. When most people are retiring from their careers, Doc was re-launching his. His "gigs" and concerts took him all over the world. Often I would receive a postcard from him, telling me where he was and where he was off to.

I will never forget Doc and his music. I admired him most of all for his youthful energy to continue to play his horn into his 9th decade.

I've enclosed two URL's. The first is Doc's bio, the other a video from the Schomburg Center.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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