Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ahmet Ertegun - Founder of Atlantic Records, and The Last Sultan

My Tribute to Ahmet Ertegun.  If someone granted me the age-old wish, Curtis - you could have dinner/spend the evening with one person living or dead, who would it be?"  After having thoroughly enjoying reading Robert Greenfield's superb book, The Last Sultan, you know who my answer is.  Yes himself.  We'd meet for dinner, somewhere swanky in Manhattan, of course.  He'd be in tasseled loafers, Navy blue blazer, crisply pressed tan slacks, yellow tie and color square in pocket, and maybe braces.  The after dinner part of my fantasy would be the best past.  We'd head over to Birdland - the jazz club.  I'd ask Ahmet to introduce me to club owner, Morris Levy.  I would be curious, but respectful.  Morris was connected. He was the Genovese family-backed head of Roulette Records, who tried to muscle in on the Shangri-Las after the group had a No. 5 hit with "Remember" (Walking In The Sand) and a No. 1 with "Leader of the Pack" in 1964.  See also Tommy James & the Shondells. Besides owning Birdland, Morris owned Roulette Records.  There, we'd catch Bird, Monk, Miles, or whoever.  Ahmet would get antsy around 1 or 2 am, and he gather up a makeshift posse of players, posers, and fine ladies, - he'd commandeer a driver and wheels - and we'd end up at the rather dive-y "Elmo's," as he'd refer to it.  The El Morocco, a somewhat famous joint.  Then for the wee hours, a jazz club up in Harlem.  And a survivors breakfast either somewhere swanky or dumpy, depending on what he was in the mood for.

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