"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
The number of jazz musicians in this country who piece out their lives in the shadows and shoals of show business has always been surprising. They play in roadhouses and motel lounges. They play in country inns and small hotels. They appear in seafood restaurants in ocean resorts and in steak houses in suburban shopping centers. They play in band shells on yellow summer evenings. They sit in, gloriously, with famous bands on one-night stands when the third trumpeter fails to show. They play wedding receptions and country-club dances and bar mitzvahs, and they turn up at intense Saturday night parties given by small-town businessmen who clap them on the back and request 'Ain't She Sweet,' and then sing along. Occasionally, they venture into big cities and appear for a week in obscure nightclubs. But more often they take almost permanent gigs in South Orange and Rochester and Albany. There is a spate of reasons for their perennial ghostliness: The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak; their talents, though sure, are small; they may be bound by domineering spouses or ailing mothers; they may abhor traveling; they may be among those rare performers who are sated by the enthusiasms of a small house in a Syracuse bar on a February night. Whatever the reasons, these musicians form a heroic legion. They work long hours in seedy and/or pretentious places for minimum money. They make sporadic recordings on unknown labels. They play for benefits but are refused loans at the bank. They pass their lives pumping up their egos. Some of them sink into sadness and bitterness and dissolution, but by and large they remain a cheerful, hardy, ingenious group who subsist by charitably keeping the music alive in Danville and Worcester and Ish Peming.