I was born in the flats, (better known as East L.A.), where I’d heard jazz on every street corner at that time. My Dad was from Lake Charles Louisiana and Mom was from Santa Barbara, California. Together they ran a Dance Hall. Music was a part of me right at the beginning. Although my Mom couldn’t hold a note; she would sing with such joy and love, my siblings and I would enjoy every minute of it. One song I heard on the radio was “I got a monkey”. I had no idea what the words in the song meant…I was just going around the house singing away; I know I gave them a couple of chuckles too, and here I am, still singing and loving every minute of it!
I was yet a baby in the music business, when a friend said, “I have someone I want you to meet”, and took me to the home of Gerald Wiggins. Mr. Wiggins had been playing jazz all night long at a club in Los Angeles, and hadn’t gotten out of bed, yet, by the time we arrived. He surprised me when he came out in his underwear, hands on face, looking like “Where am I?” After some conversation, and with his young children underfoot, he went to his piano and played it. And how he played it! WOW! I vowed (on the spot) that someday I would get him to play with my group. I did…using Gerald, Teddy Edwards, and other great musicians! That was only the beginning of many “wows”. I thought I died and went to heaven.
Gerald Wiggins and I did these six wonderful songs, in his dining room one very hot day in the San Fernando Valley where he lived. One day, after Gerry had past, I thought why not put this out on the market, where his fans could hear him playing his old upright piano that had a very special sound. So here we are, Wig and myself, recording on reel to reel, 1. My Ship, 2. The Girl From Ipanema, 3. For Heaven’s Sake, 4. Too Late, 5. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes and 6. I’ll Remember April.
At Last, dedicated to Etta Jones the day after.