Saturday, October 20, 2007


To Phil Schaap, et al:

As Jeanie Bryson's mother, I want to tell you how disappointed I am that "the powers that be" excluded her from participating in any way in the marathon celebration of what would have been her father's ninetieth birthday.

I cannot continue to support the station, and I'm urging all my friends and colleagues in the jazz community to send their dollars to WBGO, where they do not bow to pressure from the Gillespie "estate" - which consists of an octogenarian second cousin and the descendants of assorted in-laws.

The Gillespie estate pimped out Dizzy's name and likeness (for a reported twenty million dollars) to Coca -Cola. Imagine Louis Armstrong "Burger King" Stadium or The Thelonius Monk "Tylenol" Jazz Institute. How about Alice "Tampax" Tully Hall?

Shame on you. If you do go off the air, you won't be missed by anyone who knows how shabbily you treated the daughter of the man who you are presumably honoring. Or maybe you're not honoring him. Maybe it's no coincidence that your desperate need for funds coincides with his ninetieth birthday. Maybe you're pimping out Dizzy, just as his widow did. Why is it the Dizzy Gillespie Chair, pray tell? Hundreds of other famous behinds have sat in that chair. Why was it announced on air that it was "authenticated by the (Gillespie) family"?

I can't imagine any other jazz icon's representatives would consent to KCR's disrupting their family member's tribute broadcast with endless appeals for money.

Of course the fact that Jeanie is currently touring with her own ninetieth birthday tribute to her father makes her absence from your broadcast that much more conspicuous.

Again, shame on you. You like to talk about your integrity and freedom from outside pressures from people with an agenda. No one from the station responded to me after I inquired about the possibility of Jeanie's participation in the fund raising drive. I then contacted Dan Baker. He also chose not to get back to me.

You should know that despite your exalted opinion of your importance to the jazz community, and your belief that only your radio station can properly preserve Dizzy's legacy, you are fighting a losing battle.

Everyone knows and accepts that Jeanie is Dizzy's daughter except for the estate, and a few musicians with axes to grind. His name is on her birth certificate. He formally acknowledged his paternity. He supported her financially. Most importantly, he loved her. The fact that he didn't publicly acknowledge her is irrelevant. Married men of his generation didn't acknowledge out-of-wedlock offspring. Their time together was private.

It's almost 2008. Dizzy is dead. So is Lorraine, his widow. Can't you move on? Everyone else has.

Connie Bryson