By Bret Primack c. 2002 Zort Music (Official Tribute Biography Approved by Eddie Bert)

Trombonist Eddie Bert's career spans nearly seven decades of Jazz, from big bands to bebop and beyond. In addition to being a Jazz musician who's played with one and all, he's been a regular in Broadway show bands, and a first call studio player. Yet no matter what the musical setting, Eddie has always played his uniquely personal, warm and melodic style of Jazz.

When renowned Jazz leaders needed a dependable, original trombonist for a significant recording or event in the second half of the twentieth century, they turned to Eddie Bert. In fact, his resume reads like a Who's Who of modern Jazz, including musical relationships with Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Machito, Tito Puente, Benny Goodman, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.

There's a reason Eddie Bert has played with the Jazz masters--he's a truly gifted musician, a trombonist who has easily traversed eras and genres, from bop to swing, Mingus to Hampton, and Kenton to Herman. Eddie straddled the racial divide as well. He played in one of the first integrated big bands, Charlie Barnet's 1943 aggregation, which included Howard McGhee, Buddy DeFranco and Oscar Pettiford.

In addition to being one of the most dependable players in Jazz history, always in demand because of his sight-reading skills and his ability to lend a passionate and individual approach to all music, Eddie is a soloist and arranger with a distinctive musical voice. In 1955, when he stopped playing only to sleep, he won Metronome's Musician of the Year award. He followed that with a top rated album of the same name for Savoy. He has led a number of other recordings during his distinguished career, featuring such sidemen as Duke Jordan, Joe Morello, Hank Jones and Kenny Clarke.

Interestingly, Eddie Bert reports that his major musical influences are saxophone players: "Lester Young was very important to me, as were Willie Smith, who taught me a lot about phrasing, and Budd Johnson. I worked with Budd and we used to hang around a lot. He had a great knowledge of music. My early influences on trombone were Trummy Young, Vic Dickenson and Benny Morton."

A participant in numerous Jazz history moments, Eddie is also a chronicler as well. Since his first days as a musician, he has kept a meticulous diary of everything he's done, including details of every gig and recording session, with the names of the other musicians and what they were paid for the gig. These notebooks have proven to be invaluable to Jazz historians, record producers and writers.

Eddie reveals that he started keeping notebooks after the death of Herman Rosenberg, who wrote a column for Down Beat that contained details of recording sessions. "I just started writing, and kept it up. Over the years, I've been able to look up a lot of things. Guys call me for information. Last week, somebody wanted to know about a Jackie Gleason date from '67, where there were two brass sections. I was able to give him all the personnel."

When Eddie returns to Town Hall this May, he will have come full circle. One of his first recordings was with Red Norvo at a June 9, 1945 Town Hall concert later issued by the Commodore label. Eddie was also a participant at two other major Town Hall events: Thelonious Monk's triumphant 1959 concert, and Charles Mingus' calamitous, self-presented event in 1962.

Today, on the eve of his 80th birthday, Eddie remains active, playing regularly with Bobby Short, The Duke Ellington Band, George Gee, and Loren Schoenberg, among others. "I love to play and travel," Eddie explains, "and I'm still doing them both."

Eddie Bert was born in Yonkers, New York on May 16, 1922. When he was ten, his family moved to nearby Mount Vernon. The school band beckoned and "they gave me a trumpet to try. When I played a few notes," he recalls, "they said, 'tell your father to get you a trumpet,' which he didn't. The only thing they had for me was an Eb alto horn. You know how that goes, when the tuba goes 'oom,' you go 'pah.' It was kind of boring."

Eddie quickly moved over to the rhythm section, playing the bass drum. "The trombones were right in front us," he explains. "They used to play the counter melodies on marches and I liked that sound. I had a broken umbrella at home, with the part that slid up and down, and I had a razzer I would blow with it. My father asked what I was doing and I said I was imitating a trombone so. So he bought me one, a Wurlitzer. It was like a peashooter. It had no chrome on the slide. But I played it for three or four months until he bought me a real one, a Martin."

In addition to the trombone, Eddie also experimented with the tenor sax, thanks to Lester Young--he heard a radio broadcast of the Basie band in the late 1930's and was seized with wonder of Pres' solos. "Pres is the reason I try to play tenor style on the trombone," he believes. "I love that feeling he had, which sax players seem to achieve better than anyone. I particularly liked his playing on those 1936 Jones-Smith Incorporated recordings, the group that featured Pres along with Count Basie, Walter Page and Jo Jones."

During Eddie's teenage years, 52nd Street was a hotbed of musical activity. At fifteen, he began frequenting "The Street," where musicians of all generations played and gathered nightly. Being too young to get into the clubs at night, Eddie hung around during the afternoon when he knew the bands would be rehearsing.

Accordingly, it was on 52nd Street, that Eddie met Lester Young, in 1938, when the Basie band first opened at the Famous Door. A knowledgeable Jazz fan, he knew that the band had a record date coming up, he went to a rehearsal one afternoon and caught trombonist Benny Morton coming out of the club.

"I asked Benny for lessons and he said, 'come to the rehearsals and afterwards I'll give you a lesson.'" Jumping at the chance of a lifetime, Eddie gleefully attended the rehearsals and got to meet Lester Young and the other members of the Basie band. "I was there when Jimmy Rushing rehearsed 'London Bridge Is Falling Down,' 'Stop Beating Around The Mulberry Bush' and 'Jumpin' At The Woodside' for their 1938 recording." Eddie began studying with Morton after the band rehearsed.

Although Basie's group was a big band, it "had the feel of a small group," Eddie remembers. "They were great, very loose, playing a lot of head arrangements that weren't written down. And the band had had so many good soloists. I became friends with all those guys, until they passed. They're all gone now."

"The Basie band," he explains, "was different than Duke. And then there was Jimmy Lunceford, who was about precision. Three very different kinds of bands, all great in their own way."

Armed with enthusiasm and an increasing knowledge of Jazz, Eddie was eager to play. But "in those days they wouldn't let you play Jazz in school. I was playing in a kid's band led by Hal Gill with Shorty Rogers and Manny Albam who played baritone; they were neighbors. I lived in Mount Vernon and they lived in the Bronx. Shorty would come up and we'd rehearse in the basement of this record store. We had a group playing Savoy Sultan arrangements but no one would hire us because we didn't have saxophones."

Through a musician he met in that basement, Eddie found a steady gig in nearby Larchmont. "I was the only white guy on the band," he remembers. "We played stocks [arrangements] but at rehearsals, the lead trumpet player would say, 'play your first note but play this rhythm'. He'd sing what we were supposed to play. So we'd be looking at parts but not playing what was really written. And the band had style because of that. I thought that was the way you read."

It was during that gig that Eddie and his wife Molly were married. "I said, 'I'm making $17 a week, we can get married!'" Over six decades later, they're still together.

A year and a half later, while on tour in Boston, big band leader Sam Donahue needed a trombonist. Eddie learned of the gig but found out he'd have to join the musicians' union. Thankfully, his father knew a violinist in the Mount Vernon local who served as his mentor. Eddie remembers he "had to take a test…I had the second trombone part to 'Tiger Rag' and somehow got through it and into the union."

Eddie joined Donohue's band in Boston but as soon as he played, Donohue knew that Eddie couldn't read music. Eddie recalls that "he had a band like Jimmy Luncefords and a record date coming up that week. Sam told me, 'I like the way you play solos, but I have to have a guy who can read.' So he got Tak Takvorian to take my place."

Realizing that to become a professional he had to learn to read music, Eddie began formal studies with Maurice Grupp. Then fate intervened. "On my way to my third or fourth lesson, I ran into Trummy Young. He said, 'Let me send you to a teacher!' and I started studying with Miff Mole and finally learned to read."

Like all young Jazz players, Eddie supplemented his studies with jam sessions and frequented a Greenwich Village club, George's. "Everybody used to go in there to blow," he remembers. "Red Norvo and Mildred Bailey came in one night, and Red told me he was starting a band and needed a Jazz trombone player. We rehearsed for two or three months in Oddfellows' Hall on 48th street. He had Eddie Sauter's arrangements and some by Johnny Thompson, who was studying with Eddie. Red had a regular sax section, but they all doubled on flute, oboes, bassoon, and things like that. Duke's band would come in and listen to us play…Red knew all those guys."

Norvo's group opened at the Blue Gardens in Armonk, about thirty miles north of New York, on Saturday night, December 6th. Although the attack on Pearl Harbor happened the next day, Eddie had his first steady job. Norvo's group worked a twelve week tour with Jimmy Durante, traveling by train because of gas rationing. The draft further complicated Norvo's situation, and unable to get musicians, he slimmed the band down. When he needed a Jazz trumpeter, Eddie recommended his old friend Shorty Rogers. "We worked all around, including two twenty week engagements at the Famous Door, six years after I first went there for lessons with Benny Morton!"

It was during his tenure with Red Norvo that Eddie's first recorded solo was issued, Jersey Bounce, done with Norvo for Columbia on March 5, 1942. The group was also "broadcasting over a radio wire all this time. I had a Wilcox-Gay acetate recorder and used to record bands like Jimmy Lunceford off the air. I showed my wife how to work the machine and she recorded all our broadcasts. In 1990 I took copies of those recordings to Music Masters and they put them out on a CD, 'Red Norvo Live at the Blue Gardens.'"
The Norvo years were the foundation of a lasting friendship between Red and Eddie and the trombonist treasures those playing memories, particularly their 1945 Town Hall concert, and, an infamous all night jam session with Norvo's group at the home of critic and drummer George T. Simon.

But before he joined Woody, Eddie played with Charlie Barnett. By this time, Eddie's reputation as a dependable section man and soloist quickly spread and he "was getting all sorts of offer from different bandleaders," including Harry James. The trumpeter "offered me a lot of money, but I turned it down because I thought his band was too schmaltzy."

He joined Charlie Barnet instead "because Trummy Young was in the band and he had been favorite of mine since I had heard him with Jimmy Lunceford." The Barnett band also included Howard McGhee, Buddy DeFranco and Dodo Marmarosa and not one, but two bassists, Chubby Jackson and Oscar Pettiford. Then one night, "Chubby told Oscar that they were going down front to do a feature at a dance and 'Oscar said I'm a bass player, bye!'"

Then it was on to Woody' Herman's band. The group was in transition, evolving from "The Band that Plays the Blues" into "The First Herd," but the 1943 ensemble had more than its share of brilliant soloists including trumpeters Ray Wetzel and Nick Travis, as well as the great Ben Webster in the saxophone section. Bassist Chubby Jackson was aboard on well, with his notorious sense of humor. Sadly, Eddie Bert's year with Woody coincided with American Federation of Musicians ban on recording, so little documentation of the band exists.

Eddie's gig with Herman came to a premature end when he was called to serve his country. "Nick Travis and I got drafted on the same day," he remembers. "Woody didn't think they'd take us, but they did. In the army, after a lot of moving around, I ended up with Bill Finnegan's band at Camp Shanks in Orangeburg, N.Y. Actually, Bill may have saved my life. I was down in Alabama about to be shipped out to the South Pacific, and I ran into Bill, who had orders to take a band to Camp Shanks. He was just a private but he went in and scratched somebody's name off the orders and wrote my name in."

After his military discharge, in 1946, Eddie joined Herbie Fields. However, when Kai Winding told him he was leaving the Stan Kenton band, Eddie applied for the job because "that was the only group at the time that featured trombones. I knew the band was coming to New York to play the Commodore Hotel and the Paramount Theatre so in 1947, I wrote to Stan, who heard me with Red's group in 1942, and said, 'how about a gig?' I stayed with Stan for about nine months while he worked the East but when he was headed back to California, I dropped out in Chicago because my wife was expecting our second child. The band was like one big family though, and when the baby was born in March of 1948, I got a card signed by everyone in the band congratulating me."

Eddie recorded regularly with the Kenton band and his solos on 'Unison Riff,' 'Harlem Holiday,' and 'How High the Moon,' have more than stood the test of time. Unfortunately, some of the best documentation of Kenton's brand of "Progressive Jazz" is a concert they played in the Midwest, which Eddie has on tape, but has never been publicly issued.

A Kenton band mate later to find his own fame, served as the unknowing catalyst for Eddie's first recording date as a leader. 'While I was with Stan," he explains, "I roomed with Art Pepper, who very studious because he wanted to be the world's greatest saxophone player. A few years later, when he got his recording contract with Discovery Records I thought that maybe I could get a contract too. So I went to the label and I said 'hey, I used to room with Art Pepper!' They gave me a contract and my first date as a leader was in 1952."

After Kenton, Eddie joined Benny Goodman -- a transition that once again demonstrated his ability to play with leaders who were at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. This was his first gig with the "King of Swing," and there were to be many over the next forty years. Goodman's "Bop" band featured tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray and pianist-singer Buddy Greco, playing Chico O'Farrill arrangements. Eddie's maiden voyage with Goodman lasted from November 1948 to September 1949, as confirmed by the meticulous diary he kept throughout his career.

Sandwiched in between his turns with Kenton and Goodman was a short New England road trip with Boyd Raeburn's orchestra in June of 1948. It was during an engagement in Shelbourne, New Hampshire, that Eddie was witness to another Jazz history moment. A new lead trumpeter, Al Killian, and drummer, Mel Lewis, had just joined the band. On that night, a supporting sextet of Canadian musicians led by a very young trumpeter caused quite a stir. So much so that Killian urged Raeburn to hire the trumpeter. The Canadian was Maynard Ferguson and thanks to Eddie Bert's diary, we know the origins of Ferguson entry into the American big band scene. After Raeburn, Ferguson played with Charlie Barnett, became a star in the Kenton band, and went on to lead his own big bands.

Back in New York, Eddie began making all kinds of gigs. At Nola Studios, he rehearsed four times with Miles Davis' ten-piece Birth of the Cool ensemble. But when he "went there for the fifth time, Kai Winding was the trombone player. Twenty years later I ran into Junior Collins, the french horn player on Miles' band. He said he had told Miles that I had said the band was out of tune. So, twenty years later, I found out why I was replaced! I hadn't said that but Junior always liked to stir things up. Miles though, was always friendly with me after that and never mentioned it."

In 1950, he returned to the Herman Herd, then Gene Krupa, and Lionel Hampton, but although he was tagged a road musician, he preferred working in New York, to be with his family. Eddie's wife had a solution. She "suggested I use my GI Bill benefits," he remembers, "and I went to Manhattan School of Music. A t the time, it was almost like a Jazz school; my fellow students were Joe Wilder, John Lewis, Max Roach and John LaPorta. While I was at the school, I did some one-nighters with the Sauter-Finegan orchestra and I sometimes went out of town with Charlie Barnet. When I was on the road, the school would send me homework to complete. Because I working, I couldn't go full time, but I finally graduated in 1958."

Also in 1950, Eddie rehearsed with another band at Nola's, assembled by arranger Gene Roland as a feature for Charlie Parker. "It was an enormous band," Eddie recalls, "with eight saxes, five trombones, eight trumpets and four rhythm but Gene was like that--he liked to be different. It became known as 'The Band That Never Was' because it never worked, just rehearsed."

In the early 50s, Eddie worked at the Paramount Theatre with Buddy Rich's band backing Frank Sinatra. Eddie remembers that the engagement was "just before 'From Here To Eternity,' in 1953, when Frank's career had taken a big dive, so the audiences were small. His voice was sometimes hoarse. We didn't always know if he was going to show up; it was weird. Harry Edison, Zoot Sims and Davey Schildkraut were in the band and Ava Gardner was there too; I used to ride up in the elevator with her and even without make-up she looked fantastic."

It was during this period that Eddie began to work in the thriving studio scene, doing two or three sessions a day in addition to gigs at night. He remembers, "The session contractors knew that I was established in town and unlikely to be going on the road with every band that came to New York, so I started to do a lot of commercial work."

The camaraderie of musicians during the 52nd Street era, and during the hyperactive studio scene of the 50s and 60s, engendered a spirit of brotherhood that enhanced the music significantly. Eddie Bert was one of a group of a hundred players whose creativity, and professionalism, made their music special. These remarkable individuals hung out, in between studio dates and gigs, at a bar called Jim and Andy's. Eddie remembers it was the "place to congregate. Everybody would stop by there. There's no place like that now in town. Guys are just not around now, everybody lives out of town. Plus there's not as much work. It's different, you don't see the guys. It was a great era, and at the time, it seemed like it would go on forever. Then electronics came along and it became a whole different scene.

Eddie also worked regularly with his own Jazz group, and began recording as a leader. "We played at the Café Bohemia," he recalls, "and on Mondays, the off night, at Birdland. I had a set group with Vinnie Dean on alto, Clyde Lombardi on bass, Duke Jordan on piano, and a variety of drummers, including Eddie Shaugnessy, Gus Johnson and Osie Johnson. Osie of course was a great drummer and for a while he, Milt Hinton and Hank Jones were known as the New York rhythm section. My group did an album for Savoy called 'Musician of the Year,' after Metronome magazine nominated me as one of the musicians of the year in 1955, along with John LaPorta, Bud Shank and Barry Kessell. The recording at Hank Jones on piano and Kenny Clarke on drums, with Joe Morello on some tracks, in fact, and it may be Joe's first recording."
Another Jazz legend entered Eddie's life at that time, Charles Mingus. He first met the fiery bassist in "San Francisco when I was with Benny Goodman; I remember Clyde Lombardi saying that we just had to see this bass player who was at the International Quarter in a group with four basses and drums. We went and there was Charlie playing lead bass! When we both got back to New York I started rehearsing and working with Mingus' Jazz Workshop along with Art Farmer, John LaPorta, Teo Macero and Teddy Charles and I found that as long as you did the right thing, you could get along with Mingus."

In 1955, he recorded with Mingus at "the Cafe Bohemia when he was starting to formulate his ideas. George Barrow, Mal Waldron, Willie Jones and I would go to his house where he would play something on the piano, which we had to learn by rote because he wouldn't write it down. He felt that instead of just reading the music, you could get more feeling into a piece when you have it in your head. The funny thing is when Fantasy included the Bohemia material on a twelve CD box set it released a few years, there were eleven previously unissued titles, so I called them and asked for a cassette to be made of the unissued material for me, because I played on it. But they wouldn't do it; they wanted me to buy the whole set for one hundred and seventy five dollars, which I really did not want to do. Eventually they agreed to sell me the box set for sixty dollars. When I checked in my notebook, I realized that's what I was paid for the original date, sixty dollars!"
Eddie also hired Mingus to play with his own group. "One night at Birdland," he recalls, "Clyde couldn't make it so I hired Charlie Mingus. I was giving Oscar Goodstein the list of musicians and when I told him Charlie Mingus would be on bass, he said, 'No, you can't use him. He just knocked a the cop down the stairs and he's barred from Birdland.' I called Mingus and told him I couldn't use him because of what had happened. He asked, 'You want me to play with you?' 'Of course!' So he called Morris Levy, the owner, and got permission to work. On the gig, after the first set, Mingus came over and said, 'What's the matter with this band? Nobody argues!'"

In 1954, Eddie recorded with the father of the modern Jazz saxophone, Coleman Hawkins. He remembers the date: "Hawk had just flown in to New York with his horn stored in the luggage compartment where it gets very cold. At the date he was oiling his tenor and I remember the producer complaining that we had been in the studio for forty-five minutes without recording anything because he was fooling around with his sax. I only mention this because there is a good picture of Coleman and I taken at the session by bassist Milt Hinton, who was also a great photographer, and you can see it in Milt's book."

Of course there were also the sessions he almost made, including one with fellow trombonist J.J. Johnson. Eddie explains "he wanted to make a two trombone album for Savoy with Benny Green who was unavailable so he called me but I was contracted with Discovery who wouldn't let me do the date. J.J. then called Kai Winding and that is when they made their first album and although the name Jay and Kai sounds better it could have been Jay and Eddie."

Eddie own recordings continued on the Savoy label. "A month after Discovery refused to let me record with Jay Jay they went bankrupt so Ozzie Cadena of Savoy called and asked if I would do a two trombone album myself, only I would be the only horn because they were going to overdub. Remember that this was 1955 so I didn't know what overdub meant but I went to Rudy Van Gelder' s studio and put down the basic track with the blowing and added another part later, when Rudy figured how to do it. On 'Stompin' At The Savoy,' I played open and with a solo tone mute which was the type of mute used by Tommy Dorsey for that commercial sound, and when Jimmy Cleveland heard it on a Leonard Feather Blindfold Test he said that it sounded like Jay and Kai at their best and gave it five stars. I did get to record with Jay and Kai later when they did their octet album."

Eddie first met Thelonious Monk when he was hired for a Steve Allen show on which Monk also played in the mid'50s. "When I was packing up," he recalls, "I heard Monk say to Steve, 'Whaddya mean, scale?' That's when I left." But in 1959 Monk remembered Eddie from that show and hired him for a ten-piece band Monk assembled for his historic Town Hall concert, as well for his 1963 Philharmonic Hall Concert, four years later. Eddie fondly remembers the Town Hall rehearsals, which took place "at Hall Overton's apartment on Sixth Avenue. Monk would be in the other room, dancing; Hall would say 'Are you ever going to play the piano?' And he'd say, 'When the tempo's right.'"

Another legendary entertainer who crossed Eddie's path was Lena Horne. "During the fifties and sixties," Eddie fondly recalls, "I worked a lot with Lena. I was on her album 'Lena At The Waldorf,' which won an award. We had first met back in 1941 at the Cafe Society because she was there one night when my friend J. C. Higginbotham persuaded me to sit in with Red Allen's band. Lena was truly amazing but she was always just one of the guys."

In the 50s and 60s, during the hectic days of the studio scene, in addition to jingles, recording dates and gigs, Eddie worked on Broadway. His entrée into legitimate theatre happened because "I was working weekends with Elliot Lawrence and he decided to take the band into the Broadway theatres to play in the pits. We did a whole series of hit shows like 'How To Succeed in Business,' with Rudy Vallee, 'Golden Boy' with Sammy Davis and 'Golden Rainbow' with Steve and Eydie. Elliot had a fine band with people like Aaron Bell, Jimmy Crawford, Kenny Burrell, Art Farmer and Frank Wess."

"In those days nobody wanted a pit job," Eddie recalls, "because you couldn't take off to do other things. But we went into 'Bye Bye Birdie' in 1960, and Elliot told the contractor 'these guys are going to be taking off.' He asked, 'Don't they like the job?' The show was a big hit and we just went from show to show. So even though I was working regularly on Broadway shows, I was also playing Jazz gigs. I stayed in the theatre for 22 years. I also did the Dick Cavett television show along the way, for four years, with Bob Rosengarden."
At the end of '65, Eddie became one of the original members of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, a group comprised of New York's finest players. "On Monday nights I worked with Thad and Mel at the Village Vanguard," he remembers, "which I would do after my theatre gig. I did their European tour, as well, in 1969. That was a really great band but one night Thad had a meeting in the Vanguard kitchen and told us that we had to go on the road if the band was going to function properly, which was when a lot of guys like Snooky Young, Eddie Daniels and I left because we had commitments in town."

. Eddie believes the band was particularly strong because "Thad was writing for a certain personnel, who stayed more or less consistent. When you write for certain guys, you can write a certain way, like Duke did for his band. Thad's style of writing was like the way he played, and he was a great trumpet player. When Thad was out in front of the band, he was painting a picture. He would change things on the spot, telling the trumpets to lay out, or when somebody would be really blowing, he'd let them play. He made the arrangements different every night."

Eddie's globetrotting continued in '75, when he toured Russia with the New York Jazz Repertory Band under Dick Hyman's direction: "We were playing Louis Armstrong music. We had five trumpets, Jimmy Maxwell, Ernie Royal, Doc Cheatham, Bernie Privin, and Joe Newman. And Bernie Privin said, 'See, it takes five guys to play what Louis played!'"

Another treasured road memory occurred in 1989, when Eddie toured with Gene Harris and the Phillip Morris Superband, with an itinerary that included Morocco, Hungary, Egypt, France, Turkey, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Korea, the Philippines. Australia, Taiwan and the U.S.A. The all-star ensemble included Frank Wess, James Moody, Urbie Green, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis and many others. Eddie sums it up: "What a band and what a trip!"

Eddie still gets the same kick from playing with a big band, and the revival of swing bands that happened in the 90s has helped introduced larger groups to a new generation of listeners and dancers, something he's seen in his gigs for the George Gee Big Band, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

As for his own recordings, Eddie feels that he "must mention Duke Jordan, who I have worked a lot with over the years, because he is my favorite pianist. He plays great solos that sound like a horn and when he accompanies you it is like an arrangement, never getting in the way, just 'goosing' you. He played on my last Fresh Sound album along with Jerry Dodgion, Carmen Leggio, Ray Drummond and Mel Lewis and it was one of Mel's last recordings. Mel and I had first worked together years ago in Boyd Raeburn's band and his playing might have seemed laid-back, but the time was always going on underneath like a drone-it was fantastic. We called the album 'The Human Factor' because there were no electronic tricks or splices and we did the entire CD in one day, from 10 in the morning until five in the afternoon."

Although he's played with everyone, he still wishes he had the chance to work with Duke Ellington. It almost happened, three times he explains: "The first time was when Lawrence Brown was sick, and they were working down in Washington at the Howard Theatre, but I got the message too late. The second time, Oscar Pettiford tried to get me on the band, but I was too busy with the recording scene, and didn't want to leave town. The third time, I had just been called for the Dick Cavett Show band with Bobby Rosengarden. That afternoon, Ruth Ellington called. Duke wanted me for a tour of the Far East, Australia and all that. But the Dick Cavett show was four year's work."

In the 90s, Eddie started working with drummer T.S. Monk's group. "We did a European tour in 1997 and an album that featured a lot of Thelonious' new material that T. S. had found around the house. He hired me because I had played with his father-if you hang around long enough, you find that you have played with everyone's father!"

About to begin his eighth decade, Eddie Bert is still playing the trombone, still traveling, and still married to Mollie. With three daughters and four grandchildren, he enjoys spending time with his family and when not playing, also likes photography.

With all the changes he's seen in his lifetime, he remains an optimist: "There's still some music around, some good bands still playing. I get big band gigs, as well as gigs with duos and trios, just guitar and bass and me, so I have to keep practicing, every day, because you have to be prepared for the musical situations you're in. Last week I had a gig where we played the music of Mingus, Monk and Miles. I played with all three of those guys, but never on the same gig. So I have to keep playing. It's a physical thing."

copyright 2002 Zort Music