Still, I've written articles about some of the jazz players I grew up with, including Jack Sheldon, who still cracks me up, and Bobby Redfield, who tickled me as baby. When I've interviewed them, they've asked about my folks.
Dad and Susan divorced more than 15 years ago. Susan remarried and works as a hotel executive. Dad got cancer of the mouth, probably a result of first-, second- and third-hand smoke in all those foggy clubs. He had successful surgery and has recovered, but he doesn't play the clubs anymore. He teaches drums to kids, mostly, kids who usually don't know about Stan Kenton, though sometimes their parents do.
Bob had a successful computer business, then retired. He doesn't play anymore but he does find himself on the occasional panel talking about jazz while also advising jazz writers who need information about the old days. And though she hasn't been mentioned, I feel I should mention my mom, who has been married to Bob for more than 30 years now—after being married to my father for 16. She still listens to jazz, loves jazz, and understands it and the men who play it.
Me? From time to time, I go to something like the Mulligan tribute, where I meet not only people from the old days but thirtysomething know-it-alls who ask you if you even like this kind of music without knowing you lived it. You know, that guy at the bar turned out to be nice enough, an avid jazz fan and member of the LA Jazz Institute. He nearly fell off his barstool when he heard of my lineage. He told me that he spent a year trying to get in touch with my father because he was working on his second book about Stan Kenton. And he wanted oh-so-much to be introduced to my stepdad to tell him how great he thought he was and that he wanted his autograph.
I smiled as I listened, pleased to hear that my father and stepfather still have such an effect on people. I told him I'd be happy to facilitate an introduction, and the adult in me ushered him back to meet my stepdad, Bob . . . though the little girl in me stuck my tongue out at him behind his back.