BOHP_2005-05-19_AVega Chapter 8
FB: Alex Ehrenfried the bass player came from Cincinnati, right? AV: Yeah, the home of Bill Berry and Gordon Brisker and all those guys who made names of themselves. So that was a lot of fun. Because I'd been listening to Alan Dawson since Sabby Lewis and I always said I got to get that drummer someday and I did. FB: He worked for Sabby in the '40's? AV: Yeah, while I was in high school parties there was a club in Everett (Chelsea actually) by the Parkway Club -- not the Parkway, anyway. I used to catch them near my house on Route 16 there in Chelsea. So later he was with me and we even ended up working at The Frolic in Revere. I told him we were a Latin band because Alan could play anything and I knew my Latin stuff. So we were supposed to be on the roof, but the summers got so windy that most of the time we'd go there and tables were blowing around and they'd say, “Forget it, go down and play between the shows” which meant we played 20 minutes. And then we'd go down to the basement and Alan would have his pad and be practicing and I'd be doing writing or something and the bass player would practice. Then we'd say play at the end of the show, if the show went right up to one, we didn't play. But weekends we played the DooDoo Room downstairs. FB: The what? AV: They call it the DooDoo Room. I don't know do what. But the roof was usually too windy to play, it was supposed to be the mambo roof. But we worked that and then we worked The [Professional &] Businessmen's Club which was out past the High Hat which was on Mass and Columbus where that little island goes to the right and The Businessmen's Club was there. That's when Mae Arnette came on the scene, Johnny McIlvaine was related to her [uncle]. He brought her in and she worked with me, so we were the first ones to work together. FB: Was that the first time you worked regularly with a singer? AV: Well no, I had... After I left High Hat and Storyville I went to work at the 1-2-3 Lounge with three singers. So we put two on a set so I got plenty of practice playing, because with girl singers you got to play in different keys. So I got fluent at that. I'm still doing it. FB: Transposing all the time? AV: Yeah, girls can't know everybody's keys in town. So I was playing for two singers each set. So that was that. Later on we were working with [pianist] Ray [Santisi] at the Professional & Businessmen's Club. FB: That wasn't private? AV: Yeah, it was really a private club, but nothing like... Sarah Vaughan or somebody working Symphony Hall, they'd come in. Lot of times Alan would be practicing in the kitchen, there’s a piano on the second floor I'd be practicing. Then all of sudden, say, people came in, you know after we'd been practicing for an hour, and then we'd play. Lot of professionals came in and that was nice. Yeah that was before The Frolic. Then in the Frolic I wanted to keep the group, so we did that thing at the Frolic and we ended up playing less than we did the other place.