Fulbright riffs, 1991 — day 8, Thursday, June 6

Up early and into work by 9. Posted letter about my first week to Jayne. I did some intensive work on Horace Henderson and followed up with reissued 1941 recordings on the Tax label (Tax 8013), especially the tasteful arrangement Kitty on toast featuring a young Ray Nance on violin and trumpet just a few weeks before he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra. I also checked out Viola Jefferson, a great singer (will try to find out more about her) and trumpeter Clora Bryant, who made just one recording under her leadership.

Clora Bryant LP cover Mode 106

In the afternoon I had a meeting with Lynn Mullins, the Dana librarian. Our conversation ranged widely across comparative library issues. She was taken aback by some of the prevalent British Library vocabulary I threw into the conversation, such as ‘exploitation’ (i.e. of resources). To Americans it only has a pejorative meaning. We discussed my work while over here and she told me about her library’s endeavours to secure a Rockefeller Grant to support IJS work. She introduced me to Michael Bowman to talk about their library’s computer networks. “Why don’t you show Chris the Internet?” This is the first time I’ve heard the term and it is a revelation to one whose use of computers at work hitherto has meant batch processing on a dumb terminal won in a competition by a colleague. Michael introduces me to e-mail (transit envelope killer) and then I am not exactly sure what it is he is demonstrating with fluent intensity: lines of dialogue on a computer screen, almost instant exchanges, or chat, between remotely connected people. [In retrospect, this could not have been the World Wide Web as that was yet to be launched (a few weeks later, in August 1991, booting up globally in 1995) so it might have been Gopher. About three or four years later, British libraries would catch up, mostly with technical and financial support from the European Commission, and I would recognise Michael’s demonstration of online networking in real time as the most important, life-changing moment of the entire trip.]

Gopher screen image, similar, I think, to what I was shown by Michael Bowman

I got home early-ish and heated up an M&S chicken tikka [another indication of worldwide connectivity]. On the way from the station I called in at the travel agent to check the price of fares to New Orleans and Washington DC. I checked out the Maplewood health food shop and placed an order for ginseng.

I was driven out to the Holiday Inn at Fort Lee by Ben Williams, one of Rowland’s neighbours who plays trombone. I heard him do three sets with the Greg Wall Quintet. Greg is a fine tenor and soprano player, with Janice Friedman on keyboards (later she’s on at the JVC Festival), Stiles De Bono on drums, Ben on trombone and Chris Burgh on bass. The bar is fairly empty but the music is good (especially the solos, in the favoured neo-bop style of the day): likewise, the super-chilled Becks. I am relieved that Ben dissuaded me from taking my clarinet along and asking to sit it! Animated discussions about jazz driving home: we are mutual fans of Steve Turre and Ben tells me he learned with Roswell Rudd.

Ben Williams, as portrayed in the Maplewood press in 2009