By the early 1930's I had started collecting jazz records. After some college years I got a job in Los Angeles and in 1937 met David Stuart and began hanging out in his Hollywood record store on my days off. The Jazz Man Record Shop was the only record store anywhere at that time, I believe, that carried only jazz. He wouldn't even stock records by the hot swing bands, Goodman, Shaw and such. Early on I had started collecting Bix and then early Armstrong, Oliver, Clarence Williams and such groups and to some extent Morton records. They weren't easy to find but I had most of the Red Hot Peppers, many of which were re-issued on the Bluebird label.
In early 1941 David heard that Jelly Roll was in Los Angeles and we made an effort to find where he was staying. A few weeks later we got his address in the Central Avenue district of Los Angeles, at the house of Dink Johnson, also a piano player, who was, I believe, Jelly's brother-in-law. After all those years of hearing about him and searching out his music, finding him that Saturday morning at Dink's house was a great treat.
He could not have been more friendly to two jazz fans and he started talking about early New Orleans musicians and early piano players. After that first meeting we asked him if we could take notes and he had no objection. I was very good at shorthand so the next meetings with Jelly would be in restaurants where we would take him to lunch. I would try to take down everything he said about the old days so didn't have much time to eat since he would take about ten minutes to answer any question about musicians we had heard about. It was very fascinating. We were not aware that much of this material had been recorded by Alan Lomax at the Library of Congress, most of it in 1938.
We were able to phone him at Dink's and make appointments for our lunch meetings. Once in a while he would say that he wasn't feeling well enough to meet us. Then a week of so later he would be better and we'd pick...