Don Preston

Had a nice long chat with Don Preston yesterday. I was at Rockaway Records selling some cds and he was there waiting for his overheated car to cool down. He asked the clerk if they had any Mothers of Invention memorabilia. The guy said they do sometimes. Don said thanks. Don’t think the clerk knew he was talking to one of the actual Mothers. Somehow George Herms came up, and Bobby Bradford and Chuck Manning and Elliott Caine. Mutual friends. Odd gigs, holes in the wall, recording plans. On the way out I gave Don a lift to his car a block away. Met his wife.

Way before L.A. and Paul Bley and Frank Zappa, Don used to play with all the Detroit cats, Elvin Jones and Tommy Flanagan and Yusef Lateef. He’s from Flint, though. I should have asked him about that. My pop’s family was from Flint. I had a piano playing uncle Carl who was quite the prodigy. There’s a recording of him somewhere going mad on Gershwin. Alas, he got his start playing speakeasys and it did him in, eventually. But there’s a possibility that my sodden thirty something uncle and a teenaged Don were in the same place somewhere in Detroit in the late forties. Somewhere people were playing jazz on a piano. One of those meaningless little might have beens that hang in the air for a second or two, then disappear.

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