Tales of the Hunt: Tribute To A Friend

Nick From Brooklyn is back with another in his ongoing Tales of the Hunt series. Enjoy.

It was, I believe, 1993 and a friend had called me and asked me to track an arranger by the name of Larry Lucie. At the time I did not know it would be the most rewarding journey I would have of all the people I came in contact with in the music business. After looking for a couple of days on and off, I came up with his name in New York’s Union Book for musicians under “Guitar.” I called his home phone number and explained that I was a dealer and collector of jazz. As soon as I said jazz he invited me over to his home, which I think was on 43rd Street and 9th Avenue. When I arrived it was like I was a lost friend, he greeted me with a welcome I will always remember, he was what I call a Teddy Bear of a guy. We went up to his apartment, we started talking about jazz and he started telling me stories about who he played with, and I sat there

eating every word up, but what I learned the most about him was that he made me realize what it meant to really be nice to people. Larry and his wife Lenore owned a record company called Toy records, mostly soul records from the 1960’s and some of Larry’s own records. He pulled out boxes of 45-RPM records and told me to take whatever I could use. He gave me  many acetates of his various groups and of his wife who also went under the name Susan King.

After having around 300-400 records I asked him how much, he looked at me and said you know I can tell by talking to people that you are a truly nice person, how is $50, and he said Nick I am in my 80s and I know to myself how much time do I have left and at least some people will hear the music me and my wife made, and then he said call me next week we can have lunch and I know I have more records. The next week we had lunch in a local restaurant and he was like a history book on jazz. I think now I should have had a tape of all our conversations, how he played with Louis Armstrong who was also a very dear friend of his, he played with Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and so many other people. And he told me when he played with Jelly Roll Morton and he really enjoyed talking about him and it was like I was there with them when they were playing. After lunch we went to his apartment where he had pulled out more records and this would continue for around three to four years having lunch and just talking about records and music. He was also a teacher at a college here in New York and I believe he played a lot in clubs in the Village late into his nineties.

He died in 2009 and when I found out I was deeply saddened by this, Last week I had a dream and the telephone was ringing and ringing, and I could not find it. When I did I answer it and said Hello, and the voice said Nick and I said yes, its Larry Lucie, I got scared and woke and as I did from this nightmare I felt my blanket being pulled and that scared me more. But why the dream, is Larry telling me I am going to die soon? Weird thought I said to myself, but wait maybe he is telling me something else, maybe about being nice, ok that makes more sense, ok Larry is in my soul, ok that makes sense, ok I have written articles on that Jazz Collector site, Tales Of The Hunt, maybe I should write about Larry and all that I feel, ok this feels good, DO IT write about Larry, and I will do that. And I know in my heart that Larry will always live inside of my mind and thoughts, so Larry wherever you are Thanks again for everything you have given me in this life, but most of all for being a good friend.

4 comments

  • Lawrence Lucie was not only a great raconteur and a good fellow, he was a wonderful guitarist. And your post made me think of two things. One is that the only tribute we can give the dead is by remembering them with laughter or tears or gratitude. And the dead know when we remember them, and are glad. Also a friend of mine used to quote, and I don’t know the source, “We cannot bring the dead back, but we can invite them to live through us.” By your generosity of spirit you have made Lawrence Lucie live — he never died, really — for people who heard him, people who knew him, and people for whom he was a nonentity. Good work and thanks! Michael

  • Michael
    Thanks for your nice comments
    Nick

  • maarten kools

    it’s a great story Nick. Not only for us people who did not know Lawrence, now we do, but also in a more philosphical way: As long as we don’t forget someone or we still miss someone, that one is still around.
    And it is always! good to get reminded of the fact that being nice and warm to other people is one of the essences of life!

  • Maarteen
    Thanks for the nice comment
    Nick

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