Declassified Don Cherry at Dartmouth

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This is a bone flute from Peru at Dartmouth, but I am too lazy to see if it’s on my list of possible Don Cherry tools.

OR, TWENTY-SIX AOA FLUTES AT DARTMOUTH

Don Cherry was artist in residence at Dartmouth in 1970.

I wrote something about that, years later, for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.

On Don’s Blue Lake recording, he plays a wooden flute. In the letters that a professor sent me, when I was researching this story, there is something about Don apologizing for having borrowed a flute from Dartmouth’s museum.

Here is a random correspondence, as part of my research:

Hi:  I have been doing some more leg work. I called Tamara Northern (her x-husband is Robert Northern who was the musician in residence at the Hop after Don Cherry) she was the curator at the Dartmouth College Museum from around 1975 to 2001. She was not here in 1970 so she can not help you with the early date, however, she does remember a request in the 1980’s about a loan of a flute by J—– for a concert in Utah??? She was not involved so she does not remember more than that.

So, I emailed Greg Schwartz who was the registrar at the Dartmouth College Museum from 1974-1985. Here are his memories and suggestions:

“I am sorry, while I remember the flutes, I do not remember anything about a flute being used.  I vaguely remember Al Whiting saying something about a flute being played (he would have told me this in 1974) but I think he may have meant the N.H. made wooden flute in the musical instrument collection. You can check the catalog card for that, perhaps it might say something. [I did and did not find anything]  I do not remember Don Cherry at all.  The ethnomusicology class used to use the instrument collection a lot as I recall – not playing them, of course, but using them for classification exercises. Perhaps it was through the auspices of the anthro prof. that this may have happened.  I forget the professor’s name that used to teach this, Ken Korey or Hoyt Alverson would know.You could try Rebecca,[another old registrar… who I contacted and she did not remember this] if you have not done so already, she might remember if it was a loan during the 1980’s.  If you had exact dates of the concerts, you could check the Dartmouth newspaper, an article on the concert might mention something like that.”

I you could fax the letter from Al Whiting to J—- to us, I might be able to glean more information. Also, you could contact the Anthropology department and see if they remember something. I will keep looking, however, you might have some success with the Dartmouth newspapers, they did report most events on campus.

I have copied the records for the Flutes in our collection from our online database, with the exception of the flutes from Papua New Guinea we acquired in 1990.
– 1 –
Object No.: 13.2.680
Artist/Maker: Oceania | Melanesia | Fiji
Title: Nose Flute
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Oceania
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Length                  62.0 cm
Credit: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Location: HA.M5.17

– 2 –
Object No.: 157.3.13745
Artist/Maker: Oceania | Philippines | Luzon Island | Bontoc Igorot
Title: Flute (Nose Flute ?)
Object Date: 1923
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Oceania
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Length                  54.5 cm
Diameter                2.2 cm
Remarks: A six-holed transverse flute made from
bamboo.Original notes claim it to be a “nose flute”.  It has a slight crack between the first three holes.  1.7 cm inside diameter.  Luzon Bagio Mt.
Province.  Probably Bantoc Igorot 1923  May be Bagobo.
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Griffiths, Class of 1915
Location: HA.M5.13

– 3 –
Object No.: 160.37.14550
Artist/Maker: South America | Peru | Native American
Title: Bone Flute
Object Date: Pre-Columbian
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Materials: Bone
Dimensions: Length                  14.0 cm
Width                    2.3 cm
Depth                    1.5 cm
Remarks: Tubular bone, somewhat flat in cross-section.  4 holes in concave flat face.  Same side at end notched.  Each side of notch flattened.  Field data:
“Prehistoric Peru”    Paul Goldstein, Dartmouth College, 1996: Not a metacarpal, possibly not camelid.  Density of bone is high, apparently
shellacked.  Wise catalog (Met) see Janusek article.
Credit: Museum Purchase
Location: HA.M5.10

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anybody? I doubt this is Don Cherry playing a stolen bone flute, but i’m no expert. Thinking of: Peter Apfelbaum, Christine Hellmich, and a former youngish Dartmouth professor of Anthropology who I recently hit up by email.

– 4 –
Object No.: 163.5.14841
Artist/Maker: Asia | India
Title: Flute
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Length                  33.5 cm
Diameter                1.7 cm
Remarks: Six-holed bamboo transverse flute, finished on the outside, unfinished on the inside. The end near the mouthpiece is not plugged, although it
appears that it was once stopped. There are several small cracks between holes. Holes appear machine-drilled and are not all the same size.
Inside diameter or bore, 1.3cm. Loan 27 transferred to gift status Jan. 30, 1963.
Credit: Gift of Professor George Ellmaker Diller
Location: HA.M5.15

– 5 –
Object No.: 165.33.15651
Artist/Maker: Africa | Ethiopia | Asmara | Unknown peoples
Title: Flute
Object Date: 1964-65
Early Date: 1964
Late Date: 1965
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: African Art
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Length                  54.0 cm
Width                    3.0 cm
Remarks: Bamboo tube with leather decorations of various colors also some black and red plastic, etc.. Leather fringes including a loop for caring. Internode
cut out top end beveled and painted red, 4 holes burned on the side.  Gift to donor.
Credit: Gift of Joel Whiting
Location: HA.M5.7

– 6 –
Object No.: 166.18.16011
Artist/Maker: North America | Mexico | Mexican
Title: Flute
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Materials: Terracotta
Dimensions: Length                  20.6 cm
Diameter                15.0 cm
Remarks: Four holes.  Received April 28, 1966.
Credit: Museum Purchase
Location: HA.M5.10

– 7 –
Object No.: 166.4.19986
Artist/Maker: North America | USA | New York | Albany | Euro-American
Title: Flute
Object Date: about 1850
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: History
Materials: Ebony, ivory, and metal
Dimensions: Length                  24.25 in.
Inscriptions: Marked “Mecham & Co., Albany”
Remarks: Wooden flute in a wooden box.  Ebony with ivory and white metal bands.  Head joint is split.  The collector was a president of the Hayden-Handel
Society and “Played most any instrument”.

Five section ebony flute, tipped with four ivory, and 2 metal, bands.  It has 6 finger holes and 4 keys.  Mouth section has cracks.  The parts that
slide into each other are sealed by string.
31.5 cm long,  Bore Tapers from 1.5 cm to 1.0 cm.
Credit: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Location: HA.M5.23

– 8 –
Object No.: 170.64.25116
Artist/Maker: Central America | Panama | Cuna
Title: Flute
Object Date: collected 1970
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Dimensions: Length                  60.0 cm
Diameter                2.5 cm
Remarks: Single long open tube (from some large grass?), with two small holes on one side near the end.  Field no. C4.  Purchased from Jorge Iglesias,
Nalunega.  Flute is used in th chicha ceremony.
Credit: Museum Purchase
Location: HA.M5.10

– 9 –
Object No.: 170.64.25117A
Artist/Maker: Central America | Panama | Cuna
Title: Flute
Object Date: collected 1970
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Diameter                2.0 cm
Length                  31.0 cm
Remarks: Hollow (bamboo? or other large grass) tube, blocked off with natural wall at one end. Field no. C5a. Purchased from Santiago Castillo on
Mammitupu (same fellow as on Corbisque).  The flute is used for dancing.
Credit: Museum Purchase
Location: HA.M5.10

– 10 –
Object No.: 170.64.25117B
Artist/Maker: Central America | Panama | Cuna
Title: Flute
Object Date: collected 1970
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Diameter                2.0 cm
Length                  31.0 cm
Remarks: Hollow (bamboo? or other large grass) tube, blocked off with natural wall at one end.  50 cm X 1.6 cm, 40 cm X 1.7 cm, 27 cm X 1.6 cm(broken),
17.3 cm X 1.2 cm, 32 cm X 1.3 cm, 22 cm X 1.3 cm, 15.5 cm X .9  Field no.
C5b.Purchased from Santiago Castillo on Mammitupu (same fellow an on Corbisque).  The flute is for dancing.
Credit: Museum Purchase

– 11 –
Object No.: 170.64.25118
Artist/Maker: Central America | Panama | Cuna
Title: Seven-piece flute
Object Date: collected 1970
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Height                  51.0 cm
Remarks: Seven lengths of bamboo or other large grass, lashed together much in the fashion of Pan pipes.  Each is a different length and a different
diameter.  imensions:(largest):51 cm long, 2 cm diameter, (smallest):15.5 long, di 1.`Field no. C6. Used for dancing.  Purchased form Santiago
Castillo on Mammitupu (same man as on Coprbisque).
Credit: Museum Purchase
Location: HA.M5.10

– 12 –
Object No.: 172.12.25358
Artist/Maker: Asia | China
Title: Chinese Flute
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Bamboo String
Dimensions: Length                  61.0 cm
Diameter                2.0 cm
Remarks: Bamboo with 24 black stripes (of wrapped string?) at intervals around the body of the instrument. White material at end of flute 3cm high and 2.5cm
wide. There are 8 finger holes and 4 holes at top paired and perpendicular to each other. Fairbanks Museum Exchange 160.
Credit: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Location: HA.M5.5

– 13 –
Object No.: 172.12.25363
Artist/Maker: Asia | India
Title: Flute (fragment)
Object Type: Musical Instrument | Flute
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Wood
Dimensions: Length                  20.5 cm
Width                    2.0 cm
Remarks: Presumably a fragment of another instrument. Made of dark wood with 7 fingerholes, two opposite each other at the end. Slight narrowing to top.
Orangish stripes near top and bottom. Reed probably fit into the smaller end.  Perhaps a bagpipe chanter, although the wood is finished and unlike
the other Indian bagpipes in the collection.  20.5 cm long and 2 cm wide at thickest point. Fairbanks Museum Exchange 160.
Credit: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Location: HA.M5.15

– 14 –
Object No.: 172.12.25364
Artist/Maker: Asia | India
Title: Shepard’s Whistle
Object Type: Musical Instrument | Flute
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Wood
Dimensions: Length                  28.5 cm
Width                    2.0 cm
Subject: Flute
Remarks: Carved wood flute instrument with 8 fingerholes and mouth hole. Fairbanks Museum Exchange 160.
Credit: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Location: HA.M5.15

– 15 –
Object No.: 177.9.25758
Artist/Maker: South America | Colombia
Title: Flute
Object Date: mid-20th century
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Materials: Wood
Dimensions: Length                  32.7 cm
Width                    2.0 cm
Coll. History: Alice Cox; given to Barbara Vallarino [her daughter]; given to present collection, 1977.
Remarks: Wood, 6 holes.
Credit: The Alice Cox Collection given by her daughter Mrs. Barbara Vallarino
Location: HA.M5.10

– 16 –
Object No.: 31.2.4752
Artist/Maker: North America | Mexico
Title: Pot handle, or piece of flute
Object Type: Handle | Fragment | Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Remarks: Pot handle, or piece of
flute.From graves in the Bay of Manzanillo, state of Colima, west coast of
Mexico.Loan collection of: E.F. Carter, 1932.  C.B. Fisher, 1932.
Credit: Gift of the Family of E. F. Carter, Class of 1932 and C. B. Fisher, Class of 1932
Location: HA.M11.6

– 17 –
Object No.: 38.23.6120
Artist/Maker: South America | Ecuador | Native American
Title: Flute
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Americas
Materials: Reed, paint, seeds, and hide
Dimensions: Length                  44.0 cm
Diameter                3.0 cm
Remarks: Flute of reed (?) light brown in color with geometric design of circles and stripes painted on in dark brown color.  Also decorated with strip of animal
skin at one end and circle of red seeds at the other.  date received: April, 1938  Ecuador [Handwritten onto card through carbon]
Credit: Gift of Mrs. Victor M. Cutter, Class of 1903W
Location: AIR.S54

– 18 –
Object No.: 38.73.6289
Artist/Maker: Asia | Thailand
Title: Bamboo Flute
Object Type: Flute
Coll. Type: Asia
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Barrett
Location: AIR.S81.B360

– 19 –
Object No.: 38.73.6299
Artist/Maker: Asia | Southeast Asia | Thailand
Title: Flute or Whistle
Object Date: 1894-1897
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Bamboo
Dimensions: Length                  42.0 cm
Remarks: A bamboo whistle with 15 holes — 7 of these holes are finger holes, one a thumb hole, and one hole near the mouth-end which may be another
finger hole.  Many notes can be obtained by cross fingering, a diatonic scale is possible.  Overtones are difficult above the first one.  The whistle is
decorated by a stained, scalloped pattern.  It is in excellent condition and plays beautifully.  The holes were bored (I think) by a hot instrument.
42.5 cm long, outside diameter 2 cm, inside 1.3 cm.
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Barrett
Location: HA.M5.3

– 20 –
Object No.: 38.73.6300
Artist/Maker: Asia | Southeast Asia | Thailand
Title: Reed Flute
Object Date: 1894-1897
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Bamboo Metal
Dimensions: Length                  51.0 cm
Diameter                1.6 cm
Remarks: Bamboo tube with 7 fingerholes that become progressively larger towards open end. Sound is produced when the player blows across a metal
reedthat is notched into the bamboo at the closed end.
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Barrett
Location: HA.M5.3

– 21 –
Object No.: 38.73.6301
Artist/Maker: Asia | Southeast Asia | Thailand
Title: Side Blown Reed Flute
Object Date: ca 1896
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Bamboo Metal
Dimensions: Length                  72.5 cm
Diameter                1.8 cm
Remarks: Seven hole bamboo instrument with a metal reed near the closed end. The reed is set in a rectangular cavity carved in the side. To play, the mouth
is placed over the bamboo around the reed. Fingerholes are spaced farther and farther apart, with distance from the reed. Holes and bore are
black. Inside diameter 8mm.
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Barrett
Location: HA.M5.17

– 22 –
Object No.: 38.73.6302
Artist/Maker: Asia | Southeast Asia | Thailand
Title: Reed Flute
Object Date: 1894-1897
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Asia
Materials: Bamboo Metal
Dimensions: Length                  110.0 cm
Diameter                2.0 cm
Remarks: Bamboo tube with 6 fingerholes of varying sizes, and closed at one end. Player blows across a metal reed that is notched into the bamboo.
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Barrett
Location: HA.M5.3

– 23 –
Object No.: 39.64.6899
Artist/Maker: Africa | Uganda | Baganda peoples
Title: Notched Flute
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: African Art
Materials: “Bamboo”
Dimensions: Length                  39.5 cm
Diameter                2.5 cm
Coll. History: Museum and Art Gallery Reading, England; sold to present collection, 1939.
Remarks: “Bamboo” 4 (5 ?) holes in line ca. 4 cm apart, starting ca. 4 cm from open base.  Top end open, notched, “v” shaped.  “Baganda Tribe, Uganda”
Original catalog (DCM) confused.  Recorded as “Alarm Bell, fixed to door”  Note also 6932 catalogued at “Whistle, Bukede,
Uganda”Number applied to Horn with leather wrappings.
Credit: Museum Purchase
Location: HA.M5.7

– 24 –
Object No.: 53.65.13314
Artist/Maker: Oceania | Melanesia | Papua New Guinea
Title: Pipe Flute
Object Date: collected 1893
Early Date: 1850
Late Date: 1893
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Oceania
Materials: Bamboo, burned
Dimensions: Length                  47.3 cm
Width                    3.8 cm
Length                  18.625 in.
Width                    1.5 in.
Photo Type: B&W;Slide;Scan
Old Number: Fairbanks Museum 257 (check card, number not clear)
Coll. History: Collected by Henry Clay Ide, 1893-1897; given to his daughter Anne Ide Cockran (Mrs. W. Bourke Cockran); given to The Fairbanks Museum and
Planetarium, St. Johnsbury, Vermont; received by present collection in an exchange, 1953.
Remarks: Bamboo tube, closed at both ends. One hole on each end of one long side. Four holes in a band around flute and one single hole 5 1/2″ from end.
Seared lines decorate surface in bands around pipe, with geometric design. Split at one edge, 8” long.  Written in pen: “Nose flute ?  See
Cranstone re. 10[2 or a] ” [last digit illegible]  From Fairbanks Museum, Exchange #88.  From Loan 21.20  “1893” date and “#257” (for Fairbanks
number) written in pencil on the card.  Two objects shared this number. One was actually numbered 53.63.13314, but its descriptive catalogue
info. mistakenly matched record 53.65.13314. This piece is now numbered 53.65.30213
Credit: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Location: HA.M5.30

– 25 –
Object No.: 53.65.30213
Artist/Maker: Oceania | Melanesia | Papua New Guinea
Title: Pipe Flute
Object Date: collected 1893-1897
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Oceania
Materials: Bamboo and red paint
Dimensions: Length                  41.0 cm
Width                    1.8 cm
Length                  16.375 in.
Width                    .75 in.
Coll. History: The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury, Vermont; received by present collection in an exchange, 1953.
Remarks: 7-hole flute with one end closed. Bamboo wrapped around each end for decoration; interior painted red. Condition poor, crack through entire flute.
Written in pen: “Nose flute ? See Cranstone re. 10 [2 or a]” [last digit illegible]  Formerly numbered 53.63.13314. Changed number 2/95 due to
confusion with other flute with matching number.-kr
Credit: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Location: HA.M5.30

– 26 –
Object No.: 56.14.13586
Artist/Maker: North America | Northeast | Canada | Ontario | Eastern Woodlands | Cayuga
Title: Flute
Object Date: traditional
Object Type: Flute | Musical Instrument
Coll. Type: Native American
Materials: Wood, metal, and string
Dimensions: Height                  49.7 cm
Diameter                3.4 cm
Remarks: Flute made from red ceder with six equidistant holes.  Flutes of this type were not used in ceremonies although they were played for enjoyment and
on occasions when bachelors were courting eligible maidens.  Inside diameter 2.3 cm.  Tag: Six Nations, Ontario. Collected by Frank G. Speck.
Credit: Museum Purchase
Location: HA.M5.20

This last record is the only Native American flute in our collection. I have looked in every Object File for ALL of the flutes listed above… with no luck.

Best, Debbie

edit to add: Duncan Earle, taught a few years at Dartmouth, early in his career; he and I wrote recently by email about Marimba from Guatemala. (this was published in my bound volume of The D — which came up apropos of presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand claiming she was a stringer, photos of squash team)

Ms. Haynes of The Alma Mater:

deb_haynes

ebonus track (bad pun, bad typing or providence):

I can’t believe I’ve been writing about Don Cherry at Dartmouth for 15 years and never followed this up, but here is a lift from Willard Jenkins talking with Bob Northern:

Brother Ah: I started when I came back from the military again in the late 50’s. My union, 802, asked brass players to work in the public school systems to teach brass instruments. They didn’t ask teachers with degrees in education but they wanted professional musicians. So they called me, I don’t know why again, to ask me. So I said, “Sure.” So they sent me to a school in my own backyard… south Bronx, where I grew up, to teach brass instruments. So I taught trumpet, trombone… all the brass instruments to elementary… to 4th, 5th, and 6th, graders.

That’s how I really began to start teaching. And I had a few private students. But, I was successful now, and getting work, I was doing a Broadway show, I’d done many Broadway shows but this one’s called 1776. It was a hit Broadway show and I had been doing it for two and a half years, six nights a week and matinees and all that stuff. Finally Don Cherry called me. Don and I had been working with Charlie Haden and Don and I did a lot of stuff together. In fact he’s the one who turned me on to playing bamboo flutes. Anyway, Don said, “Listen man I’m teaching at Dartmouth College and I’m going to Stockholm, Sweden to open up a school for children for one semester and the faculty chairman said I could go for a semester if I got a substitute, so would you substitute for me for one semester at Dartmouth?” I said, “I’m doing a Broadway show man. I gotta find a substitute for a semester.”

So I did, I was able to find a French hornist who played my show for a semester. And I spent a week with Don in Dartmouth, first of all, observing him as a teacher. So I said, “Don I think I can continue your work.” And I was really continuing his work. He was doing music that was different. So I said, “I can do your work” ‘cause I had been playing with Sun Ra. So I accepted his position for one semester.

At the end of the semester he called me from Sweden: “Man, I’m gonna be out here for three years.” I said, “What!? I got a hit Broadway show!” “Can you please take my place man…?” So the chairman calls me and says, “We would like to offer you a three year contract to teach here at Dartmouth.” I was kind of sick of that show anyway, I mean, I’d been doing it for two and a half years, I said, “Well, I’ll just take a break from New York you know.” Even though I was extremely busy. But I said, “What I’ll do is bring the cats up here,” I said to the chairman, “If you give me a grant, you know to bring the musicians from New York here so I could continue my career.” He said, “Yeah!” So I brought up Max Roach, I brought up M’Boom, I brought up Kenny Burrell I brought up a whole bunch of cats because I wanted to play, I brought up Leon Thomas. So I kept my roots in it, but after three and a half years… But anyway that was my first real teaching position, at Dartmouth College.


Willard Jenkins: Were you married with a family at the time?

Brother Ah: I was married… I was divorced.

Willard Jenkins: Did you have children?

Brother Ah: I had two kids. Two sons.

Willard Jenkins: From your first marriage?

Brother Ah: Yeah.

Willard Jenkins: Are either of them musicians?

Brother Ah: No, the oldest boy, who is now in his fifties, he wanted to be a drummer and I got him a drum set and for some reason he wanted to go to Paris and sold his drum set to go to Paris and he never got back on drums. My youngest boy was a wonderful guitarist who was studying music in Los Angeles and he gave up being a musician so… My daughter is the one that’s really now and up and coming. She’s a vocalist, a composer, and an arranger. She has wonderful music out now, she’s going strong now, and so she’s the only one in my family to take on the music legacy, my daughter.

Willard Jenkins: So how did you evolve as an educator from Dartmouth to Brown University?

Brother Ah: Well, again, at the end of three years, I was anxious to get back to New York. To pick up my career, to get back with all those cats I worked with. And at one of my performances, there was a gentleman named George Bass who was very connected with Langston Hughes, he was teaching at Brown University in something called Rights and Reasons. Rights and Reasons was a project that he and the chairman of the African Studies Department, who was a historian, put together, to turn research into performance. So he came to one of my performances. I didn’t know he was out there.

After the performance, he came backstage and said he’d like me to consider doing my work at Brown University. I said, “Man, I’m going back to New York man, I mean I’ve had three and a half years of Ivy League,” and that was difficult at Dartmouth. It was very racist… It was an all-boys school when I took the job. When I first hit that campus man, there was a big Confederate flag across the Main Street, a huge Confederate flag. I said, “What!?” So I had a hard time dealing with racism at Dartmouth, very hard time. And it’s an Ivy League school again, Brown University, I said, and in Rhode Island, I said, “Well man, I’m going back to New York.” So he kept bugging me, so I figured the only way I can turn this cat down was to give him such a price, such a salary, that they would say, “No we can’t do that.” So I gave him this huge figure, and they said, “Ok.” I said, “What!?” [Laughs] I didn’t know I was making more than the chairman. I said, “What!?” Oh man, so that’s how I ended up there… So I went to Brown and stayed there nine years.

Rusty Hassan: Was it at Dartmouth or Brown, where you acquired the name “Brother Ah”?

Brother Ah: At Dartmouth. I used to come into this classroom and they would say, “Ahhhhhhhh. Ahhhhh. Brother Ahhhhh.” And I didn’t know, you know, it was a nickname. I didn’t know if I started every sentence with “ah” or what, you know? So it was an international setting, it’s an all-boys school and they had students from all over the world. It was very international.

So everyone from different parts of the world came to me and say, “’Ah’ has a meaning in my culture.” One guy, he was from Mauritania, he said, “We twirl in the desert and we chant ‘ahhhh’ for our culture.” And then the guy from Egypt, he said, “You know ‘Ah’ is the name of the god of the moon.” Ra is the name of the Sun god, Ah is the moon god. Everybody kept telling me, so it stuck. It was a nickname, it just stuck. So when I got to Brown, the Brother Ah name followed me to Brown.

 

This is a random segue but my mind races to Kris Bobrowski my Dartmouth schoolmate -and we had mutual friends –who plays French horn and studied with Christian Woolf and has an improv piece which starts with her going to the beach and grabbing a piece of seaweed to form an improvised and variable in tone instrument.

The other thing that comes to mind is a story one of Don’s students told me via letter about Lucky Thompson and the racism he encountered in the Deep South, and told the students about. I believe that Dartmouth 1973 or so was literally Lucky’s last paid teaching gig. (I saw something about him in Seattle, and poor, at end of his life).

A link to Krys’ page shows that John Santos also teaches with her at CSM and lists “de la calle” meaning self-taught for his academic credential. John played with Charlie Hunter once in my series (pound for pound). He should have his own show, for Earthwise — which reminds me here I am futzing around on the blog when I have 2 shows on sale. Jane Monheit, 6/21/19 and Bob Margolin 7/6/19. And a few avails and offers to land, like a cakewalk.

andand: a fine young musician here, to rename nameless, trying to choose between Stanford and Brown.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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