GALE MADDEN – Randy L. Smith

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Finally, Randy has done something remarkable in the often narrow world of jazz literature, where the shelves are full of Miles, Trane, Bird, and Duke: this book is full of portraits of people who rarely, if ever, sat for interviews. Some of his subjects I’d heard before; others were names in discographies; others were new to me. How refreshing! It’s the chronicler’s sacred task to record the stories that otherwise die when the people involved do. This book is a sweet collection of immortals: Randy L. Smith’s way of making sure that “auld acquaintance” will not be forgotten.” 

Michael Steinman / JAZZ LIVES / New York

The following article is from a forthcoming eBook that will be self-published by Randy L. Smith who has graciously allowed the editorial staff at JazzProfiles permission to post it on these pages.

One wonders what the overall nature of West Coast Jazz might have sounded like if Gerry Mulligan had not made that fateful trip with Gale to California in the early 1950s and established his pianoless quartet with trumpeter Chet Baker at the Haig in 1952?

This is a very long piece and in order to maintain the integrity of Randy’s work, I decided to bring it up as one feature and keep it as the primary posting on the blog over a 3-day weekend to give everyone the opportunity to read it at their leisure and in its entirety.

You will find the numbered footnotes, some of which are explanatory, at the end of Randy’s essay.

© Copyright ® Randy L. Smith, copyright protected; all rights reserved; used with the author’s permission.

“GALE MADDEN – Randy Smith 

Tracking the Mystery Woman of Jazz, Mama X Plus

   — by Randy L. Smith —

“Zip, zap, zipping all around.”

   — Gale B. Madden — 

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

  Than are dreamt of in our philosophy.”

   — William Shakespeare —

Part One:  First Impressions

The history of jazz bears more than its share of colorful characters who rode the coattails of the musicians making the music.  Dean Benedetti would be long forgotten today were it not for his obsession to follow Charlie Parker around with a tape recorder, turning it off whenever anyone else soloed.  Some even have jazz themes named after them, as does Emry “Moose the Mooche” Byrd, Parker’s supplier of fresh horse.  Without doubt, one of the most fascinating—and enigmatic—of the jazz fringe is Gale Madden, whose only entry in jazz discographies is for playing maracas on Gerry Mulligan’s first record date as a leader for Prestige, in 1951.  Released as Mulligan Plays Mulligan, Madden appears on two tracks, Kaper and Bweebida Bobbida. (1)

So why even bother?  Answering that question has been a long process for me.  I first met Madden in a record shop in Bellingham, Washington, sometime in the late 1980’s.  As we stood there rapping, digging a CD of vintage Roy Eldridge, I remember thinking, “For a woman of around 70, she sure has some sex appeal.”  (Early photos show her as a stylish and attractive young woman.)  Having arrived from heaven knows where, she turned more than a few heads in the tight jazz community of this small port city not far from the Canadian border. (2) Going by the name Mama X Plus, or just Mama X, she regaled anyone willing to listen with fantastic stories of her life with the jazz greats.  Some years later, in June of 1998, she sang and performed on piano and flute for her 80th birthday at a local restaurant, accompanied by Maxx Fanucci on bass, percussion, and piano.  This was released on a private CD, as were a few other recordings that I have not heard.

That birthday gig must have been some event.  For the first tune, accompanied only by electric bass, Madden sings a steady improvised patter, riffing off the names of people in the audience, making clever wordplay and jokes that induce genuine laughter.  She goes on to tell her life story in song, like an old blues moaner, and ends up reciting original beat poetry a la Kerouac or Ginsberg.  What her flute solos lack in polish, they make up for by pointing in unexpected directions.  Her quirky piano shows touches of Monk, stride and more than a little Cecil Taylor.  When the audience gets too loud, she admonishes them to be quiet, unleashing a few fierce fistsfull of Taylor-ish piano.  Compelling and entertaining, the overall effect is that of a one-woman wrecking crew. 

The few recorded Madden gigs—along with a remarkable 1997 radio interview with Don Manning on KBOO in Portland, Oregon—provide the only evidence of Gale’s voice and music that has been publicly available, as far as I know. (3) Manning’s program makes it abundantly clear she had been on the scene in both N.Y. and L.A. during the formative years of modern jazz.  She has the inside argot down cold, and knows the musicians, even the obscure ones, by nickname, quirks and all.  Her stories resonate with detailed authenticity. (4) Informed and sharp, she recognizes every piece of music Manning plays.  She likewise demonstrates intelligence and originality, casually dropping references to social trends, world history and classical music as she spins her hipster yarns.  Somehow she manages to make herself central to the action of every story. In my 65 years, I’ve never met anyone quite like her.      

I had already moved to Japan when the CD’s of her gigs and the radio program were released.  However, I hadn’t put Gale completely out of mind, so in 2002, when she was 84, I arranged to meet her on a visit to friends in Bellingham.  This turned out to be my most bizarre—and fascinating—encounter with a jazz personality by far.  Early on, Gale grew frustrated with her perception of me as being too much the uptight WASP, telling me I had “to have a badder attitude.”  When I asked if she did many interviews, she shot back:  “I don’t do interviews!”  I felt as though I were being scrutinized and analyzed, and found wanting. 

Part Two:  Historically Speaking

Coincidentally, Madden is remembered in jazz histories as a kind of analyst for troubled musicians.  Sometimes referred to as Gerry Mulligan’s girlfriend, she quells that notion in no uncertain terms in the Manning interview, insisting their relationship was strictly platonic. As she tells Don, Charlie Parker referred Mulligan to her when she asked Bird to recommend a “Caucasian Catholic” who “has gotta be strung out” for her anti-addiction ministrations.  Explaining her methodology, Gale says, “He [Mulligan] would sleep and I would sit up while he slept, and brainwash him, it was like a conditioning system that I used.” 

Bassist Bill Crow, in an interview with Gordon Jack, confirms that she was on a crusade to save the New York musicians from the ravages of junk.  According to Crow, who knew Madden, the plan fell through when expected funding failed to materialize. (5) But he questions the claim that she was not Gerry’s girlfriend, saying, “Soon after [the idea collapsed], she and Gerry became a ‘couple.’   When I told Crow what Madden had said to Manning, he admitted that “girlfriend” was “kind of a loose term,” adding, “They were together, I don’t know what they were.” (6)

Whatever her personal relationship with Mulligan, jazz historians have been more interested in her possible musical influence.  Mulligan himself was among her biggest champions.  Referring to the Prestige date in Ira Gitler’s Swing to Bop, he says, “Gail Madden had gotten the rhythm section together . . . And she had those guys playing really well together.”  And though one theory the famed Mulligan-Baker Quartet played the Haig without piano is that headliner Red Norvo wanted it off the stage, Mulligan credited Gale for opening his ears to the benefits of eliminating it.  In the notes to the quartet’s first Pacific Jazz album, Gerry writes:  “I was first made aware of the possibilities of a pianoless rhythm section by Gail Madden, a person who possesses a most refreshing and revolutionary conception of the rhythm section and its function.” (7)

Furthermore, in a 1994 interview, Gerry told Gordon Jack that Madden was responsible for suggesting Chico Hamilton as the drummer for the original quartet with Chet Baker, and, through Bob Graettinger, for introducing Mulligan to Stan Kenton. (Graettinger was to become Madden’s second husband, though she mentioned to both Manning and me that it was “a Buddhist ceremony,” and not legally binding.)  If that weren’t enough, bassist Bob Whitlock told Gordon in yet another interview that Gale had been the one to first contact him about auditioning for Gerry in 1952, confirming her major role in recruiting the rhythm section for the original quartet!  (While Gale said nothing about Whitlock to me, she did refer to Chico Hamilton as a “running buddy,” indicating they knew each other well.)  

What’s more, Whitlock corroborates Mulligan’s estimation of Gale’s influence in the interview with Jack. (8) While admitting “she could also be a major pain in the ass sometimes,” he said this about her:  “many of her observations were very astute and she made some valuable contributions in my opinion. How could a bass player fail to appreciate her obsession with transparency, buoyancy, precision, and balance within the group? That was her major concern and the focus of a good deal of her criticism.” 

Some dispute Madden’s claim to influence on Mulligan.  Although not mentioning her by name, Chet Baker—far from the most reliable informant—clearly refers to Gale in this passage from his “lost memoir” about meeting Gerry for the first time out in California:  “I was called in for a rehearsal with Mulligan, which turned out to be a big hassle between Gerry and some chick who had come with him from New York.  She played the maracas—somewhat—but mostly she was just a pain in the ass for Gerry and kept anything from happening with her bullshit.”  

Others are less blunt, but skeptical.  Bill Crow told me that in early 50’s New York, “she played maracas a couple of times on jobs [with Gerry],” something that seemed to him “kind of fruitless.”  Crow believes that Mulligan “was just trying to make her happy.”  Allen Eager, in his interview with Gordon Jack, echoes Crow, saying, “She played maracas and wanted to be on a record date with us, but she didn’t kick the beat off into something better than it was, in fact she was a bit of a drag.”  The point ought to be made that both Crow and Eager based their observations on Gale’s New York period, prior to any innovations she may have been part of in Los Angeles.      

Part Three:  Dodging Bullets

Deciding who to believe—her skeptics or supporters—invites debate.  Mulligan’s acknowledgment of her influence carries weight.  On the other hand, I realized during our interview that she had a tendency for self-aggrandizement.  Somehow she managed to put herself at the center of every new and revolutionary musical development.  She told me, for instance, of how a young African–American pianist and singer called R.C., after hearing her preach the Blues in a Seattle nightclub in the 40’s, found his own voice and stopped sounding like Nat Cole.  Thus was Ray Charles her gift to the world!      

Despite being subjected to her ego and her channeling of Freud, I’m glad my talk with Mama X Plus happened.  She could really turn on the charm when she felt like it.  I also sensed her vulnerability, a trait her Bellingham musical associate Maxx Fanucci believes may have stemmed partly from her perception of having been so often misrepresented.  

And once her defenses cooled a bit, Gale did tell me a lot about her life.  I heard, for starters, how she had been “conceived in New Orleans” and born “into a war-torn world, [6/14] 1918,” in the somewhat remote village of Toledo, Washington (located on the Cowlitz River between Seattle and Portland). (9) She expressed pride in her Creole and Choctaw heritage. After she finished criticizing me for my lack of “attitude,” she did a forthright and entertaining job of bringing her 84 years of experience to life and of exposing the unique workings of her mind.  

Feeling somewhat overwhelmed, I limited my questions, mostly letting her talk.  And talk she did, rambling on for some three hours in a virtual non-stop monologue that touched on just about everything from Charlie Parker to chaos theory to Clarence Darrow.  (And that doesn’t even leave a mark on the surface.) She positively lit up when she found out I knew about Ed Hall:  “You’re the first person . . . who knows who Edmond Hall is, I’m just thrilled . . . I got goosebumps all over me,” adding, “Well, I played [clarinet] just like Edmond Hall.”  Occasionally, something I’d say would set her off.  At first, I felt a little as though I were stepping into a minefield.  

Despite hazards and detours, a pattern began to emerge.  Having been born into a family of “freethinkers” for whom education meant improving one’s mind, she told me about her early home life.  “He [her father] had newspapers from five different places.  He had the London Times—he got that once a month—he got the New York Times, the Sunday Times, and the Los Angeles [Times].  He really kept on what was happening . . . We knew where Clarence Darrow was at all times, through the monkey trial . . . the Scottsboro Boys, and all that . . . H. L. Menken, and the race thing . . . and any scientific discovery.” 

She was exposed to music and the printed word before birth, her mother playing piano and reading Shakespeare and poetry for her prenatally.  At the age of three, she “was reading out of the National Geographic.”  And by the time she was a freshman in high school, she says, “I would read—I would get about three, four hours of sleep—and then I would go to school.  And I was reading things like dialectical materialism, Marx and Engels, and Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky . . . that kind of stuff.”  She grew fond of Euclidean geometry at an early age.  Later, she digested a steady diet of philosophy, especially Nietzschean.  (Maxx Fanucci told me that one of her preferred roles was that of philosopher.)  When she was on the road, she would go off to attend a lecture when the other musicians wanted to party.  “I’m up on every theory, every scientific discovery,” Gale told me.  

If she had a hobby, it was studying and observing the workings of the human brain.  Near the end of our long conversation, she told me this:  “I had two books written, one was scientific, my case histories and observations, which now the neuroscientists are saying is true.  For instance, they told me I was crazy when I said that I could watch my brain, working, and the memory was all over the brain, because I could actually watch the recall . . . So [others had said] ‘No, the memory’s all in one spot.’  So now we know, scientifically, neuroscientists know, it’s all over the brain, and I can watch it when I’m calm.  I’m moving too fast now, but if I’m by myself, thinking, doing recall, I can watch it darting around . . . zip, zap, zipping all around.”

Occasionally she waxed esoteric on the subject of music.  “Music is just arithmetic, melodicized and rhythmicated, Pythagoras told us that.  Twelve is the number, and now with the perfect string theory—which I’m calling the M theory—that number is six.  It’s so simple.  Edward Witten, they say discovered the unification theory, unified theory . . . is number six.”  Regarding her musical training, she mentions a teacher whose name I can’t quite make out, with whom she studied for six years.  Says Gale, she “had a master’s from the Paris Conservatory and a doctorate from the Sorbonne, in psychology.”  She professed excellent teaching skills, declaring, “I can teach for full orchestra. I can teach the Schillinger System, counterpoint—besides growing up in all that jazz.”    

Ah yes, the jazz. Of course, I heard stories of the musicians she had known.  Like the one where Bird came by her pad in the Village, and finding her away, left a note in her typewriter.  It read, “‘Was here.  You was not.’  And he drew a little bird.”

Part Four:  Shucking and Jiving

Speaking of musicians, the Manning interview is rife with anecdotal lore.  Although Fanucci—who knew Gale well—feels these stories present her in a kind of “shuck and jive” role, they do have high entertainment (and possibly historical) value and enhance our understanding of this complicated woman’s personality.  

She tells them with a dramatist’s feeling for plot, character, and timing. Take her version of that Prestige record date in 1951:  “I went into the studio, and I had my rhythm section . . . Walter Bolden and Phil Leshin, and I was playing maracas because Big Sid [Catlett] helped raise me, and I loved Big Sid’s sizzle cymbal.  So I’m playing the maracas and getting a sizzle cymbal sound, and Gerry Mulligan says in an interview that I was getting things out of that rhythm section that was [sic] a breath of fresh air to jaded ears.  So I go in there and I start setting up the rhythm section, and the engineer said, ‘Oh, this is great, this has never been done before!’  And then Mr. Big [possibly Bob Weinstock’s father] comes in, Mr. Prestige, and he said, ‘What’s going on in here?’  It’s obvious that he had a problem with females that could think and chew gum at the same time.”

The next scene has Weinstock refusing to consider two of her charts for the date.  One of these, a blues, he refers to as “Public Domain.”  Says Gale, “I called it DOBS, Dirty Old Blues . . . and I said, ‘What? Wait a minute,’ because Bird and I had talked about this Public Domain stuff quite a bit. . . And I said . . . ‘no royalties for me on this,’ and he says, ‘That’s right.’  Madden’s dramatic reaction adds a touch of pathos:  “And I took it and tore it in four pieces.”  

The story continues, the aggrieved Madden explaining, “all I did was play the maracas with my rhythm section,” implying she would have made a bigger contribution save for Weinstock’s obtuseness.  Finally, after telling how she had insisted Gerry use George Wallington on the date, she sends out for a half gallon of “Eye-talian table wine” to sooth her wounded pride.  She concludes with understated drama:  “So I played the first two tunes, and then I saw this wasn’t going my way, so I just sat there and drank that wine.”  (Gale was normally no heavy drinker, though she did enjoy her weed now and then.)   

We also hear firsthand the familiar story of how she and Gerry Mulligan hitchhiked together from New York to Los Angeles in early 1952, though she insists that Gerry had “followed her” out west, not the other way around.  (10) Once she gets warmed up, there’s no holding her back.  She has detailed accounts of personal encounters with the legends—Miles, Max, Mingus, Diz, Dexter, Bird and Monk, all of them—and remembers the not-so-famous as well, casually relating tales of hanging with the likes of Shadow Wilson, Karl George, Joe Mondragon, Buzzy Bridgeford, Fred Greenwell, and Sonny Berman.  She literally knows everyone in the business, from Charlie Parker to Stravinsky.

Speaking of which, her Dumbarton Oaks tale is classic Madden.  Of course, it was she who introduced Bird to the Stravinsky Concerto in E-Flat that he took to like an addict to heroin.  And wouldn’t you know?  It begins with Gale having a private lesson from The Man himself: “I took a lesson from Stravinsky, and in order to take a lesson from Stravinsky, you had to know all of his published works, read everything he ever wrote, before he’d even take you, so that’s one of the things I like to brag about.”   

But before getting to the meat of her story, she throws in one more accomplishment, explaining how she “was the one who introduced  that [the Slonimsky Thesaurus] into the jazz thing there in New York City.” (11) Finally, she arrives at the crux:  “Bird would come by every day, and I’d go to the gig every night—if he played Philly, he’d take me over there.  So I said, ‘You heard this Dumbarton Oaks, Bird?’ I played it for him.  He didn’t leave, he didn’t leave the pad.  And I mean, it would play, it would be over, and he’d just go, ‘Dumbarton Oaks, Dumbarton Oaks, Dumbarton Oaks,’ and he’d get up and put it back on.  He played it a hundred times at least . . . I said, ‘That’s it!’  And this was five stories up . . . so I just took the damn thing, and opened the window and I sailed it out, and he practically jumped out the window [laughs].  Bird.”  

Apart from levity, the radio interview affords evidence of Madden’s congenitally restless nature.  When Manning says to Gale, “You live in Bellingham now,” she replies:  “I’m still on the road, alone, I mean, I’m in Bellingham, now, but about to flee that scene.” (12) Relationships were likewise impermanent.  Regarding her “marriage” to Graettinger, Gail tells Don, “He and I were together—my limit—three years.” (13) Don and Gail also discuss Nat Hentoff writing in the New Yorker in 1959 about how she “dropped” Mulligan cold, which she confirms as true.  According to Hentoff’s account, the pair had rented a studio for a rehearsal band, and “He plunged into the pianoless quartet experiment with enthusiasm and kept at it well into the spring of 1952. Then the rehearsals ended. Miss Madden simply dropped him and he once more fell into despair and self-doubt.”  (Gale tells Manning she split because she felt Mulligan had become overly reliant, using her as a crutch to avoid facing his problems.)  

Gale’s wanderings remind me of what she told me when I asked where she had grown up:  “I grew up all over.”  She seems to have always been on the move to some place, some new scene.

But it wasn’t all hijinx on the highway for Gale either.  Plenty of poignant moments are recalled during the Manning interview, graced by the host’s impeccable taste in choosing good music to play.  A sympathetically hip former drummer who had been with Claude Thornhill and jammed with Bird back east, he inspires her to lay some fine old chestnuts on us.  So we hear how, in the 30’s when the the Lunceford Orchestra played the Trianon in Seattle, Joe Thomas used to pick her up and set her atop the instrument cases so she could see better, vision being a lifelong issue for her.  “My mother used to dump me off . . . and they [Lunceford’s men] were my babysitters!”  

Then there’s her account of running into her old friend, Max Roach, in Bellingham, at Christmastime some time before the radio interview. (14)  “I went over to the supermarket [across the street] . . . and I had no reason to go because I had gone a couple hours earlier . . . so somebody brushes by me because it’s kind of crowded; and he said, ‘Excuse me,’ and I looked and went by and I thought, ‘Wow, that dude sure looks like Max.’ . . . And I said, ‘Excuse me, but you look exactly like Max Roach,’ and he said ‘Yes?’  Course, now it had been 43 years since I’d seen Max. . . . And so I said, ‘Gale Madden.'”  Max, momentarily confused and thinking someone was asking him about Gale, says, “Gaie Madden?  Where is she? How is she?  Did she pass away?”  Gale responds, saying, “‘No, I’m Gale Madden!’  And so, we just embraced—it was just great. Yeah, he blew me away.  I was never the same after that—it took me three months to get over this.”  (15)  

One of the program’s most affecting spots comes after Don and Gale have been discussing their memories of Charlie Parker.  Don sighs, saying, “Gosh, I miss him,” and Gale, wistfully, responds, “I miss a lot of my babies, I really miss ’em.  Some days I wake up and I can’t believe I’m still here and they’re gone.”    

Part Five:  Reappraisal

So whatever became of Gale Madden?  I did hear from friends that she had been having financial and medical issues.  Gale hinted as much to me during our 2002 interview, and I ended up giving her twenty dollars “for groceries.”  Then, literally as I was putting the finishing touches on this article, I received a Facebook message from Maxx Fanucci in Bellingham, and we had a long exchange.  

At first Maxx seemed unsure of my intentions, perhaps perceiving me as someone who might slander or misrepresent Gale as she felt others had done.   When I assured him that was not my wish, he became less suspicious and told me things about her I had not known.  First and foremost, he informed me that—following a bad fall and a move to assisted living—she had passed away in 2015, so there is some closure to this saga after all.  He also told me he had gigged with her around Bellingham and Seattle.  While admitting Gale could be a notorious name-dropper, Maxx had praise for her abilities as a creativity advisor and teacher.  I asked if she had been a good teacher, and he replied:  “She was a master teacher, regarding many subjects.”  

When I mentioned I was considering writing a longer piece on her, Maxx said that, actually, he had thoughts of doing a memoir of his nearly twenty years as her musical associate, student, and friend.  I hope he does.  He is uniquely positioned for the task, and Gale Madden’s memory deserves no less.  

Among other things, Maxx and I discussed Gale’s Ray Charles story.  Although he had initially been wary of Madden’s grand testimonials of influence, in time he came to disbelieve them less.  Then I recalled something Gale told me about how “her protégé,” Maxx Fanucci, took her up to Western Washington University in Bellingham for a masterclass performance by Max Roach, in February of 1998.  Afterward, she told me, Roach singled her out in front of the gathered crowd as the one who had “taught everybody.”  

At the time I honestly didn’t know what to make of this, but was skeptical.  So I asked Fanucci to tell his version.  He dropped a bombshell on me:  “This was a turning point in how I had to think about what always sounded like a put on from an eccentric old lady in Bellingham, Washington.  Even during the masterclass with Chuck Israels on bass [head of the WWU Jazz Department], she was giggling about what Max was doing.  Heard it a million times, kind of deal.  And of course, she’s telling me how his main counterpoint demonstration with the ostinato figure he played on kick and hat was her idea, her influence.  Basically, a result of her explaining Bach to him and encouraging him to express that on drums.  So by now, I’m almost annoyed.  Always with the tall tales, taking credit, teaching everyone.  So in the lobby Max is there at a table signing things. Gale is really animated, ‘Oh man, when he sees me!’  I don’t know what to think, assume the worst.  He stands up, and this was a big lobby with lots of commiserating.  He quiets the place down and addresses everybody:  ‘Hey, everybody, this is Gale Madden, she taught me, she taught Charlie Parker.  She taught everybody.’ . . . The odd thing was they only barely chatted after that and really it didn’t seem like most people had too much of a reaction.  He got back to signing.  We took off.”

After hearing this, I listened to portions of our 2002 conversation with a fresh set of ears.  Like Maxx, I began to question my skepticism.  The tales seemed too detailed, the characters too real, to be entirely made up creations.  Many, like this nugget, she had not told Manning.  Explaining how she would attend Orson Welles’ magic shows in L.A., she says, “he always used to get someone out of the audience, and he’d choose me all the time.”  She continues, “I was riding in a taxi going to some rehearsal . . . Gene Roland is sitting here, and Jimmy Giuffre is sitting there . . . and this car rolls up and there’s this hand over here . . . with this jade ring on it.  It’s a yellow convertible roadster, and I’m looking down, and I look at the hand and I follow the hand slowly up, and Orson Welles is looking at me, waiting, and I said ‘Good morning, Orson.’  And he said, ‘Good morning, darling.’  Just then the light changed and he drove off, and Jimmy Giuffre said, ‘I didn’t know you knew Orson Welles.’  And Gene Roland says, ‘She knows everybody!’ . . . I can still see him, his face looking up. . . It was just a beautiful little dramatic moment.”

            

The badass “Blues Woman” with an attitude formed another of Madden’s personas.  To me, it seems likely she developed this face partly as defense against the chauvinistic mindsets she must often have encountered.  That, and maybe she wanted to dominate the rap.  Whatever the motivation, the blues came naturally to her.    

Blues played a large part on the 80th birthday CD, and during my time with her, she referenced them often.  One memorable story involved Lightnin’ Hopkins, who had contacted her to ask if he could open for a gig she had in Portland with her rhythm section.  “And he came up, opened for me, and before he’d open, he had to have his pint in the back room . . . So we’re back there, and we sing the blues.  He’s playin’, and we trade choruses, and he says, like, ‘That’s a Million Dollar Blues Woman you got there . . . she cuts all of us, she cut me.’  And then we went out, and I sang with him on the last of his set, and he told the same thing to the audience, he said, ‘She cuts me, she knows she cuts me’—and he’s doing it in dialect—he said, ‘She know I know she cut me! . . . Everything she did was right off of here,’ and he tapped his head.” 

Or dig the lowdown on this tale of the popular blues team of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry.  “Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.  They helped raise me.  Anywhere they was [sic] and I was around, I would go . . . They’re so funny together.  Brownie was educated from Howard, I believe, he had a degree in education, or something.  And Sonny couldn’t even sign his own name.  And it was just so beautiful backstage with them because he would always be badmouthing Sonny.  And I’d stick up for Sonny.  And Brownie would say ‘Ignorant mother fff, ignorant MF.  Can’t even write his own damn name!’  And Sonny’d say, ‘Jesus love you Brownie, Jesus love you.’ . . . And Brownie was a total atheist [laughs] . . . Course, I’d make ’em laugh, too . . . always the peacemaker.  And it’s all like a sham, and so they said, ‘You’re going on stage with us. 

There’s gonna be three chairs on that stage tonight; there ain’t nobody has ever come between us . . . I think it was in Memphis, somewhere down in there . . . So Brownie made me sing a song, and I sang about being up here [the Northwest] like this . . . and I can sing just like that, you know.  Then he’d tell the audience, ‘It’s the only person that ever come between us, nobody else ever sit in this chair.'”

    

Some of what she told me presented variations on segments from the Manning interview.  The Stravinsky lesson, for example.  Doubtful when I first heard it, I now find it—along with Dumbarton Oaks and many others—entirely plausible.  She prefaced it with an account of the Woody Herman Orchestra’s recording of Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto in 1946.  “I started to tell you about that, when he wrote the Ebony Concerto?  And at that time, I never missed a rehearsal, and I was at the recording date.  One day I had something I had to do, an interview or something, and I had to be 15 minutes late, so he asked where I was . . . it was Woody Herman’s band, and Joe Mondragon and I were very close . . . So he asked Joe, ‘Where is she?  He said, ‘She has to be 15 minutes late because she has an interview.’  He held up the rehearsal for that 15 minutes, until I was in my chair.”  Confused, I asked her, “You mean Woody?”  Gale replied emphatically:  “No!  Igor!”    

Moving on to the lesson, the version I heard, wonderfully detailed, has an almost surreal beginning:  “I go for my lesson, and I go about an hour early. And this is the weirdest thing you ever want to hear in your life. You know that movie of Laurel and Hardy where they’re bringing the piano down the stairs?  It was that house!  It was that house . . . and it’s up in the hills, and I go up the hill . . . and I look at this thing and I say, ‘Oh, my God, I know these stairs!’ . . . And I’m about an hour early, I didn’t want to be late, so I’m sitting down the very bottom three steps.  And a guy comes and he goes up, a young guy, just ignores me, and he’s up there about seven minutes, and he comes down again with a very different attitude.   He says, ‘If you’re waiting to take a lesson, you might as well go home.  He won’t take you unless you know everything he’s ever written.’  I just looked at the guy.  And so this big woman—Igor is a little person, you know—comes to the top of the stairs.  She said, ‘Are you the next student?’  And I just go up the stairs, in awe, you know, like, I’m the chosen one, I’ve lived my whole life for this moment, kind of a feeling.  And . . . the lesson was just, like, talking.  I think I played some little thing for him on the piano.  I don’t remember; it’s such an emotional impact.”  The story ends with her staying for dinner with Stravinsky.  Why would anyone make up something like that?  

As with the Manning conversation, anecdotes such as these are both entertaining and illustrative of Madden’s personality.  However, the question of her influence remains.  After hearing Mr. Fanucci’s story and revisiting the tapes of my interview, I began to notice passages that supported what others had said regarding her impact on Mulligan and others.  Take Mulligan’s praise for her work on the rhythm section of the Prestige date.  Gale told me more than once that whatever scene she landed in, she would a get rhythm section together.  In New York, as previously mentioned, one of them consisted of Phil Leshin, and Walter Bolden, and for the recording date, George Wallington. 

The account of how she recruited Bolden bears telling, involving as it does Horace Silver and Stan Getz.  Gale explains how Getz found Bolden and Silver at the Colored Elks in Hartford and brought them to New York for a gig at Birdland:   “He [Stan] says, ‘You got to come down to the gig.’  I said, ‘I wouldn’t miss it.’  So I’m at Birdland, sitting at the table by the kitchen, the musicians’ table, and he gets off the stand, and he brings his drummer and piano player over, and says, ‘Straighten them out.’ . . . So I says, ‘Horace, he found you at the Colored Elks,’ because Horace was playing all over, trying to be Art Tatum or somebody . . . ‘Just think that you’re at the Colored Elks, Saturday night, and it’s midnight, and play like you would.’  And so they got up for the next set, then after the set Stan comes over to me, he says, ‘I don’t know what you told them, but you told them right!'”  

Next, she relates how she encouraged a depressed Bolden.  “Walter was staying in New York . . . and Walter had been put down by Downbeat or somebody, some critic had written about him that he turned the beat around.  And I said, ‘Walter, it’s just another permutation, they’re just not hip enough to know that, it’ll turn back.’ . . . So I said, ‘Come on, I got to get a rhythm section together for that gig [the Mulligan date].'”

Wallington she contacted after he had been scuffling.  “See, I got George Wallington to play piano on that instead of me playing.  I was going to play piano on that . . . and so George and I were always close buddies . . . and he said, ‘I’m gonna have to get a job, quit music, I don’t get a gig anymore, nobody will hire me.’  I says, ‘I got this gig with Mulligan’—that’s what I’d do, I’d get a rhythm section together, and then a horn player . . .”  

    

Details of her relationship with Bob Graettinger involve the shadowy figure of Dave Madden.  “I was on the road and Dave Madden was on the road, the tenor player, and somebody introduced us . . . We got to Hollywood . . . and rooms were hard to get, it was during the War, and so Dave Madden and I, Gale Madden . . . we decide to get a room, you know, twin beds and rooms.”  At this point I asked if they were related.  “No.  No relation . . . We lived together for three years, then I took his case, I only took one case at a time . . . Okay, Dave and I are at this hotel, and his friend is coming, this genius friend of his is coming, he’s an alcoholic.  And Bob Graettinger comes in, and it’s a big room you know, real separated places, and Bob and I look at each other.  And Dave—and there was a couple other cats in the room—said that they saw it happen . . . we looked at each other, and we both got this electrical current, ‘ksht,’ like that . . . And Bob said, ‘Let’s go have a drink.’  And we went, and we were together, after that, for three years. He was an alcoholic, and I sobered him up, and I got Stan to let him write for him, Stan Kenton.  I had quite a relationship [with Stan], he would come to me when he needed a drummer or something . . . I had a studio on Melrose Avenue, in the early 40’s . . . I got him off the alcohol, got him writing, and I had a studio at one end of the building, and we had an apartment at the other end, and he used the dining room for his work.” (16)

Listening to these stories prompted me to revisit the Manning program for possible missed gems.  Here’s one of how she’d have her musical fun with the Kenton men:  “I’d take my five-part counterpoint down there, and as soon as Stan would call a break in rehearsal, Ray Wetzel—and I was pretty tight with Ray Wetzel—he said, ‘Whaddya got for us?’  So I’d give ’em my five-part counterpoint that I wrote, and they’d work on that the whole intermission.  And they’d say, ‘Have we got it the way you want it?’  ‘Yeah, okay, you got it the way I want it.’  So then Stan would call them back, and Ray Wetzel, who had more nerve than any of them, he’d say, ‘We haven’t even had a cigarette yet!'”     

Gale provides other examples of her influential sway in both my interview and Manning’s, but as this piece has grown to several times the length I had originally intended for it, I’ll leave those for another day.  Maybe someday I will do something with the transcript of my evening with her.  Those several hours, I realize now, were unlike any others of my entire life.  Furthermore, the recording of our conversation may well have historical value beyond what I thought before I began this essay.  I would like to add that she had warmed considerably to me after realizing I knew something about jazz and was genuinely interested in her life.  Before I left, she even recited some of her original poetry, which I found riveting.  When I asked where it came from, she replied, “I don’t know, and it’s different every time!”  We parted friends, though I would never see her again.    

Before wrapping this up, I would be remiss by failing to mention one further accomplishment.  Gale told Max Fanucci she left her husband of the time after he became abusive because she “cut him,” on tenor!  (17) I cannot verify this incident, of course, but she did tell me technical aspects of reeds and mouthpieces that only someone familiar with reed instruments would have reason to know.  She began by explaining how Ben Webster would save his old reeds for her, which she would then file down and use on her clarinet and C-melody saxophone.  For her tenor, she says, “we had plastic reeds and we’d saw them down—get a number four and saw them down.”  Next she explains how she had a mouthpiece named after her:  “What I did was I took a Selmer, the most open Selmer [I could find]. . . and I took it to this guy who works on mouthpieces and said, ‘I want this opened’ . . . he opened it up, so the next thing I know he’s got a mouthpiece out called the Gale . . . that sucker was open . . . Anyway, I had chops like nobody, nobody had chops like me . . . And I’d be up at the bar, having a drink at intermission and I’d hear, like, ‘phshhhhhh,’ and I’d look around, and some guy would be up there trying to play my horn.  And I’d go. ‘Man, you wouldn’t do that if I wasn’t a chick. I’ll kick your ass . . . messing with my horn.’  I got so I carried my horn . . . One night Jug [Gene Ammons] came to town—he was playing over at the Black Orchid in L.A.—and so I took my mouthpiece over there, said, ‘Try this one, Jug.’  Then afterwards he called me a bitch. That was nice.”  (18)

She also told me this amazing story about Gerry Mulligan, set just after she and Mulligan had hitched out from New York.  At the time, claims Gale, she was married to a baritone sax player named Bill Cherones. (19)  ‘And so he [Cherones] got a wide-open mouthpiece on baritone and sawed it down, and I could play the hell out of it. Then when I hitchhiked back . . . I called Howard Rumsey—I was good friends with Howard Rumsey—and told him, ‘I’ll bring Gerry Mulligan out for the gig out there Sunday.’  And I borrowed Bill Cherones’ baritone.  I said ‘Bill, come on, Gerry doesn’t have a horn, he lost everything in New York, he’s totally broke . . . so Bill says, ‘I will, but he’s using my mouthpiece,’ and I said ‘We’ll see.’  So we get out there at the jam session, and Gerry blew that horn.  And I’ll say for Gerry Mulligan, he had knockers, because he blew that horn.  He was black and blue from his eyeballs all down his chest!  You never saw anything like it, ever.  There was never a happening like that, ever, in jazz.  He was black and blue, it was unbelievable, and I said, ‘Gerry, sometimes I can’t stand the way you play, but you sure you got a lot of guts.'”

Coda:

Then why, if she was so great, isn’t she better known?  A fair question, but one that has no definitive answer.  The history of the arts is littered with the bones of talented people who, for whatever reason, never got a fair shake.  Every musician and fan who heard him in his prime, for example, speaks glowingly of Freddie Greenwell, a Seattle tenor player whom Gale knew.  I heard Greenwell play and can verify that he was the equal of Al Cohn or Zoot Sims, as a player.  (Dave Frishberg told me Al and Zoot would invite him to sit in whenever they found themselves in the same club. “They loved him,” Frishberg said.)  No doubt readers can cite similar cases of underappreciated talent, local or otherwise.  As for Gale, she was a creative, intelligent, headstrong woman with an attitude, well in advance of the women’s lib movement of the 60’s.  This was not the type to find easy acceptance in a field dominated by men.   

And she removed herself from the scene for many years, on behalf of her mother.  Gale had promised her—that if she helped finance her education—she would take care of her in her old age.  One day she called, Gale went, and 22 years elapsed before her mother passed on.  Most of those years she spent in Soap Lake, in rural eastern Washington, far from any “scenes.”  (During this period, she didn’t give up creative pursuits entirely, touring occasionally and involving herself in community theater, drama being yet another of her myriad interests.)        

Do I believe every word Gale says?  Well, not necessarily, but that’s difficult to answer definitively, too.  She did have an undeniable ability to cast herself in the best possible light.  And at times, her dates don’t match up.  Is it the fog of faded memory, or is considerable embellishment going on here?  Perhaps her serial boasting became her defense for always having been “the chick” on a dude’s turf.  Then again, maybe she believed it all herself.  In her mind she created an entire cosmology with her at the center.  She professed a strong interest in mythology and maybe she spun her web of myth in my mind, too.  “I don’t react to people,” she told me, “I make them react to me.”  I simply don’t have the answers.  But whenever I begin to doubt, I think of Max Roach standing there saying, “She taught everybody.” 

Finally, I’m compelled to admit my characterization of her as a “fringe” figure in the first paragraph of this article may well be unfair.  She certainly had her doubters, but the more I consider the totality of everything I’ve discovered about her, the less skeptical I become.  Quite possibly, the tall tales of her impact on the scene have more validity to them than she has been given credit for.  After all, as demonstrated in this piece, others besides Roach who knew her back in the day have vouched for their veracity.  So did she introduce Slonimsky into the jazz scene?  Did she show Ray Charles how to play and sing the blues?  Did she help integrate a formerly segregated nightclub in Hollywood by getting Dexter Gordon his first gig there after he got out of “the joint?”  Did Miles steal her act of turning his back to the audience?  (“I used to play my flute that way,” she says.)  Did she “teach everyone?”  Who knows?  In the Madden universe, anything, it seems, was possible.  

And while I welcomed learning of Gale’s ultimate fate, it did leave me more than a little melancholy.  The possibility of her still making the scene, hanging with the cats, on the lookout for lost souls to set straight—and teaching them—appeals to my image of her as the mystery woman of jazz. 

Reprise:

Then it happened again.  For the second time, as I was preparing to send this article off, a bombshell (or at least a mortar round) landed in my lap in the form of a doctoral dissertation on Mulligan written by Richard S. Fine.  Based on 26 hours of oral history, recorded by Ken Poston in 1995, months before Mulligan died, it contains the fullest account I have read of his relationship with Gale.  Mulligan neither confirms nor denies the “girlfriend” angle, but he does credit Madden for helping him kick the heroin habit, though he suffers a relapse when they part ways.  Fine also reports that “Madden‘s friendship with arranger Bob Graettinger led to an engagement [for Mulligan] composing and arranging for the Stan Kenton Orchestra.”  Furthermore, Mulligan believes Gale likely saved Graettinger’s life in the late 40’s, confirming what she told me about getting him sober.  (Sadly, Graettinger died in 1957, aged 33.)  

Gerry also speaks of her influence on him musically:  “But then as I started to brighten up my view, for instance when I played the piano, I was always playing the piano hard and she said, ‘You don‘t have to play the piano so hard, easy.’ And in a lot of simple ways, she opened up my own perspective about music and more than anything, my approaches to music.”  The pianoless idea began while Gale and Gerry were still in New York.  Writes Fine, “The idea, Mulligan recalls, originated when Madden helped him assemble a tentette and rented a rehearsal hall to play his new arrangements. They wound up using Wallington on piano, however, because they loved the way he played.”  Mulligan continues, “It was her experiments that helped me when I got to L.A., since [by then], I already had an idea of what would and wouldn‘t work [with respect to using or not using a piano].”

Mulligan also explains the motivation for their trip together out west in 1952:  “New York was in a real decline at that point. There was very little work and not enough work to support myself, or support Gail and me at that point.”  (Mulligan says nothing about having “followed” Madden, as she had told Don Manning he had done.)  Fine continues, “Since Gail had friends in Los Angeles, including Bob Graettinger who was still working for Stan Kenton, she thought that there might be some opportunity for Mulligan there.”  

Mulligan then tells how the very eventful trip unfolded “in stages.”  After a short stay in Newark, the couple headed to Reading, Pennsylvania where Mulligan’s brother Don lived.  Writes Fine, “Unbeknownst to Mulligan, Don had contacted their parents to let them know that Gerry had arrived in Reading. Mr. and Mrs. Mulligan believed that if Gerry was still an addict, perhaps he could be ‘cured’ in jail.  So they contacted the authorities.”  Although they were hauled off, the police found no drugs and they were set free.  

So they began hitching rides west, destination Albuquerque, New Mexico.  “Well, in the early stages of hitchhiking, the long distance truckers were great . . . And then we started picking up rides with individuals. That‘s when it got a little scary because some of these cats we ran into were such cowboys driving. You‘d ride with your heart in your mouth. But that got us into Albuquerque.”  At this point, Mulligan landed a job in a western swing band!  While he enjoyed the experience, after a few months it was time to move on again, so the pair set out for Los Angeles.

At the very end of this well written and informative treatise, Fine summarizes the contents of 23 CD’s worth of Mulligan interviews.  For the final disc, he supplies a list of 19 people Gerry says “were important to him.”  First are his parents, followed by teachers, friends and musicians he worked with.  Number 19—the final name on the list—reads:  “Gail Madden.”     

 Footnotes:

1. Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to learn how Gale came by her surname.  In a 1995 interview, Bud Shank told Gordon Jack it came from her association with saxophonist Dave Madden.  She mentioned to me that she and Madden “lived together for three years, ” but that they were not related. She said nothing about taking his name.  Also, during the time I knew her, and after, she was spelling her given name “Gale,” not “Gail,” as it had been spelt in source materials.  Maxx Fanucci told me he believed she had decided to change the spelling herself, though he is unsure why.  Except for quotes from original sources, I use the later spelling throughout this piece.  

2.  It’s likely Gale had been living in Soap Lake—a community east of the Cascade Mountain range of Washington State—looking after her ailing mother.   

3.  Fannuci told me Madden had a large cache of materials from her most productive years—books, recordings, scores, prose writings, etc.—that were either destroyed by fire or stolen.

4.  It should be noted that Madden’s memory of dates and events is not always 100% reliable.  Take, for example, the Dumbarton Oaks story related in this piece.  Gale tells Manning it took place in Tadd Dameron’s apartment while he was away, serving time at the federal prison hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.  However, the story’s key character, Charlie Parker, died in 1955, a few years before Dameron was at Lexington.  There are other examples as well, such as when she tells Manning that Dizzy Gillespie was “only a couple of years younger than me,” when in fact, he was almost a year older [born 10/17].  While most women prefer being perceived as younger, Gale’s penchant for padding her age enhances her vision of herself as the older, wiser motherly mentor.  

5.  According to at least one source, Gale sometimes supported herself as a model.  (She also told me that in our 2002 talk.)  And in his interview with Gordon Jack, saxophonist Jack Montrose mentions another of her freelance jobs:  “Around 1952 Bob Gordon and I worked in John Kirby’s last band at the 5-4 Ballroom on 54th and Broadway. It was a sextet that played for dancers and that is where I first met Gerry Mulligan. His girlfriend Gail Madden was a photographer at the ballroom and he used to sit in with us every night when he came to pick her up.”  

6.  Others have perceived more to the Madden-Mulligan pairing than mere analysis.  Saxophonist Allen Eager had occasion to observe them up close.  In his Gordon Jack interview, he says, “[Mulligan] and his girlfriend Gail Madden had moved into my parents’ place in the Bronx and Gail was pretty bossy and opinionated, always wanting to affirm women’s position in society.”

Eager is not alone in calling Gale Gerry’s “girlfriend.”  Though she has sometimes been represented as a woman of loose morals, she pointedly told me she had not make a habit of sleeping around, despite her close association with numerous male musicians.  I have no reason not to take her at her word on this.    

7.  Further muddying the waters, bassist Bob Whitlock, in a 2012 telephone interview with Marc Myers (JazzWax), says this regarding the absent piano:  “The piano was a huge grand. Erroll Garner had been the featured soloist there. The piano was so long that the front extended into the room and had to sit on a crate. It took up a ton of space. So Gerry had it taken out. Gerry never gave me a direct answer as to why he stopped using a piano in the group, but I know he felt the piano was a pain in the ass, musically.”  Whitlock said much the same in his Gordon Jack interview:  “Gerry still hadn’t decided what to do with the piano as there was a large grand on stage at the Haig for Erroll Garner and anyway, I always felt that the pianoless concept wasn’t planned, it evolved.” 

8.  Oddly, perhaps, Whitlock says next to nothing about Gale to Myers, even though the bassist talks in detail about Gerry’s early years in California.  

9. Gale told me both of her parents were originally from Toledo. Her name at birth was Gail Beatrice McNulty, according to information from her birth certificate supplied by Fanucci.  Also, the date on the birth certificate reads 6/15/18, not 6/14.  Don Brenner of the Toledo Historical Society confirms this information and reports the names of her parents as Edwin McNulty and Gertrude Steinberger.  

10.  Whoever followed whom, the pair were apparently on the same page when they arrived in Los Angeles.  As Bob Whitlock told Gordon Jack, “When Gerry and Gail first arrived in L.A., they were both enthusiastically reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which tells the story of an idealistic architect clashing with big business. It had been released as a film with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal and they really saw themselves in those roles!”  In her interviews with both Manning and me, Madden made no mention of Rand.  When I talked to her, she seemed most interested in neuroscience, telling me how her brain was unique because she had been born at 10 months, giving her a highly developed amygdala.  Explains Gale, “that’s the thing that starts us out where our most structure hangs, where our conditioning becomes set as to what kind of attitude we’re going to have.”        

11. Bill Crow told me this about Gale’s claim regarding Slonimsky: “Oh, I don’t know whether that’s true or not.  Something like that’s around, you know, it’s hard to say that one person introduced it.”  So I ran Crow’s statement by Fanucci and asked what he thought.  He replied, “I have her copy.  First printing, I think . . . 1947 . . . Well, anything high level like that, sure, it was around, but who could interpret it?  It seems like that was what she offered.  She claimed to have been a conservatory piano student.” 

12.  Despite her threats to leave, Madden remained in Bellingham.

13.  Madden gives Manning a generally tranquil report of her three years with Graettinger.  But Carol Easton, a Stan Kenton biographer, paints a darker picture:  “From 1947 to 1949 Gail was living with Bob Graettinger. She was a frustrated pianist who saw herself as the woman behind the genius (whomever he might be at the moment). She looked even freakier than Graettinger, in mismatched shoes, men’s clothes, whatever took her fancy. She shared Graettinger’s oblique perspective on life and was one of the few people who could make him laugh, but she was volatile and erratic if not downright psychotic. Graettinger came home one day to find everything dyed pink – bedspread, towels, curtains, clothes, shoes, everything.”  I would add that in early photos of Gale, she appears well groomed and stylish. Also, I am unable to prove or disprove Easton’s characterization of Gale as possibly “psychotic,” but from my passing acquaintance, I am reluctant to make such a diagnosis.  Eccentric, yes.  Anyway, I’m no psychologist, and neither, I suspect, is Easton.  

14. Apparently Max’s wife of the time was from Bellingham and they had come to spend Christmas with her family.

15. Of her relationship with Roach in the 40’s, Madden tells Manning, “Max and I were as tight as you can get without sleeping together.”   

16.  As with the Dumbarton Oaks story, Gale’s dates don’t add up.  At one point, she appears to set the introduction to Graettinger during the War, and then she seems to be saying they lived together at her place on Melrose in the early 40’s.  However, Graettinger was not writing for Kenton until later, the first piece he wrote, “Thermopylae,” which Gale told Manning she had named, being recorded in December of 1947.  She also says she spent three years each with Madden and Graettinger, but I am unable to confirm when those relationships took place.  (Carol Easton had reported that she and Graettinger were together from 1947 – 49, just before her involvement with Mulligan.)  It ought to be noted that Gale was recalling events that had taken place many years before.  Also, it’s possible she was conflating two separate L.A. sojourns.       

17.  Fanucci is unable to pinpoint the identity of this abusive husband.  Dave Madden?  Could have been, though Gale said they were never married.  Bill Charones (see note #19)?  Possibly, though I can’t say for sure with the information I have.

18.  Gale told Fanucci she played straight ahead bebop tenor in the manner of Gene Ammons.  Gordon Jack tells me that none of the musicians he asked about Gale mentioned she played the tenor.  Also, I ought to note that “Orchid” is my best guess as I cannot clearly make out what she says on the tape.  Gordon checked for me and was unable to identify a Black Orchid nightclub in L.A.  However, there was a club of that name in Chicago, Gene Ammons’ hometown.  It is possible Gale had forgotten where the scene took place.    

19.  This was not a name I was familiar with.  However Gordon Jack turned up a Bill Cherones who recorded four titles on alto with Tom Talbert in L.A. on June 25th, 1946.  I’d hazard a guess he was the one Gale refers to here.  (This information comes from a Talbert biography written by Bruce Talbot.)  Also, I am unable to explain why—if she were married at the time—she’d have been hanging out and traveling across country with Gerry Mulligan.  She was certainly unconventional in many regards.  Then again, she could have been incorrectly recalling the chronology of events long past.  

 

Acknowledgments:

I am indebted to Gordon Jack for his invaluable assistance in preparing this article.  In addition to supplying me with the appropriate chapters from his book, Fifties Jazz Talk, Gordon pulled my coat to additional sources that proved useful.  He patiently reviewed numerous drafts and made astute observations of things I had missed or that required revising.  My portrait of Gale would be less complete and my commentary less accurate if not for Gordon’s expert guidance.  I would also like to thank Don Brenner, President of the Toledo, Washington Historical Society, for looking into details of Gale’s earliest days.  That research continues.  (And thank you to Michelle Whitten, Toledo City Clerk, for putting me in touch with Don.)  I reserve a very special debt of gratitude for Nicholas Hoffman, my “running buddy,” for arranging the 2002 interview.  Without Nick’s help, this project may never have come to fruition.  Hang in, brother!  Finally, I am deeply grateful to Maxx Fanucci for reaching out to me on Facebook.  He supplied the final key pieces of the puzzle of the multi-faceted Gale B. Madden, leading me to regard her in an entirely new light.  The rest of her story remains to be told.   

References:

Baker, Chet.  As Though I Had Wings, the Lost Memoir, St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

Easton, Carol. Straight Ahead:  The Story of Stan Kenton, Da Capo, 1973, 

Fine, Richard Samuel.  The Birth of Jeru:  Gerry Mulligan’s Early Composing/Arranging Career (1945-1953), Doctoral Dissertation, 2010.

Gitler, Ira.  Swing to Bop:  An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940’s, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Hentoff, Nat.  Profiles in the Mainstream, The New Yorker, March 21 & 28, 1959.

Jack, Gordon.  Fifties Jazz Talk:  An Oral Retrospective, Scarecrow Press, 2004.  

Manning, Don.  Bebop Spoken Here.  The Radio Interview with Jazz Legend, Gale Madden, Bayside Digital Productions, 1997.

Myers, Marc.   Interview with Bob Whitlock, 1925-2015, JazzWax, August, 2012.  Web.  


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