Buffalo in the 60s: Satchmo, Basie, Duke, Brubeck headline Buffalo Jazz festival

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The word unbelievable is thrown around — but the lineup at the 1960 Buffalo Jazz Festival at Offerman Stadium was pretty close to unbelievable.

Buffalo Stories archives

The old baseball park behind Freddie’s Doughnuts at Main and Michigan played host to Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa and a half-dozen others.

In 1951, Main & Michigan and the area around Offermann Stadium was much more densely filled in. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The run up to the event received plenty of coverage in the Buffalo Courier-Express, The Buffalo Evening News, and The Niagara Gazette.

Co-produced by Ed Sarkesian and George Wein, in association with WEBR disc jockey Joe Rico, the festival features a lineup of entertainers that reads like a “Who’s Who in Jazz.”

The idea for staging a Buffalo Jazz Festival represents the collective thinking of professional producers and interested local businessmen. Producers Sarkesian and Wein regard Buffalo as one of the top five jazz markets in the country, based on the  record of successful shows staged at Kleinhans Music Hall and local theaters.

–Buffalo Courier-Express, July 24, 1960

The Niagara Gazette reported that a ‘”Living Stereo” sound system was to be installed in Offermann Stadium at a cost of $6000, “assuring that the audience will hear every chord struck by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, every run from Louis Armstrong’s golden trumpet and every note played and sung by Dinah Washington, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Gene Krupa, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and the other stars who will appear.”

The Buffalo Evening News previews the show.

As far as the show itself:

Kenneth Gill’s review of the first day of the two-day festival from the Courier-Express. Dave Brubeck, Dinah Washington, Art Blakley, Count Basie, and Dizzy Gillespie were among the performers. WEBR disc jockey Joe Rico was the emcee. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Gill also reviewed the last day of the show for the Courier.

The second part of Buffalo’s first Jazz Festival concluded last night at Offermann Stadium where again some of the top names in music produced an evening of fine entertainment for an enthusiastic audience.

The total attendance for the Saturday and Sunday night shows was 16,000.

On stage last night was an array of celebrities equal to the standards of the opening edition. Such personalities as Chico Hamilton, Duke Ellington,
Gene Krupa, Oscar Peterson and Louis Armstrong were on hand. It also marked the first Buffalo appearance of Jackie Cain, Roy Krai, and Cannonball Adderley.

Hamilton’s Quintet, which is built around his fine drum work; Ellington’s orchestra in the blue mood of the old master, Krupa’s torrid drums, and Peterson’s great piano playing highlighted the festivities.

Armstrong’s appearence brought the usual reception for the great “Satchmo,” whose trumpet and gravel voice are a must for any succesful jazz gathering.

Cannonball Is a Hit

Cannonball Adderley and his alto sax, backed up by his side men, brought about interesting improvisations on the jazz standards. The integration of vocal sounds with those of the instrumental, placed Jackie Cain and Roy Krai well up in their
chosen classification.

Local talent again received its opportunity. Patti Leeds, accompanied by the Sammy Noto Quintet, was as vocally pleasing as she was visually appealing.

She turned easily from sultry ballad to belting chorus, with all the accomplishments and polish of a top professional. All indications are that her future it very bright. (WEBR disc jockey) Carroll Hardy provided the program introductions.

Among the odd stories from weekend festival– it was the first major event where The Buffalo Police Department’s new K-9 squad was given a public appearance.

Working out of the Franklin Street station, “The dog, his handler and the van patrolman-driver form a team which check trouble spots anywhere in the city,” reported the Courier in a follow-up article. “No job is too small — roaming through pool parlors, mingling at crime scenes, even issuing traffic tags.

“Their finest hour was handling the crowd at the recent Jazz Festival in Offermann Stadium. Not one disturbance took place during the concert or on any streets afterwards. The promoter told Lt. Carr it was the only peaceful concert on his tour.”

Buffalo Stories archives

A few years earlier, Joe Rico, then with WWOL, brought another amazing show to Kleinhans Music Hall:

Buffalo in the ’50s: Basie, Gillespie, Billie Holiday headline Kleinhans show

Presidential hopefuls who visited Buffalo, ended up in footnotes of history

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In 1900, William Jennings Bryan leaves his train to “thousands of howling, hurrahing men—insane with enthusiasm, some said they were—to make those who saw the whole believe that never had Buffalo such a grand demonstration for a political candidate.” (Buffalo Stories archives)
William Jennings Bryan speaks at the Broadway Market, 1900. (Buffalo Stories archives)

As soon as this evening, one of the two candidates for president will be written into the headlines of history — and the other will be written into the footnotes. On this Election Day, we take a look at some of the candidates who have come this close to the White House through the years, and the time they’ve spent here in Western New York.

1900: William Jennings Bryan

As he campaigned against President William McKinley, Congressman (and later Secretary of State) William Jennings Bryan filled the streets of Buffalo’s East Side as thousands jammed into the Broadway Market and surrounding streets to hear Jennings speak.

Buffalo Courier, 1900. (Buffalo Stories archives)

“On the East Side it seemed as if the whole populace had turned out to shout and cheer for Mr. Bryan,” wrote the Courier. It was estimated that 25,000 heard him at the Broadway Market, and another 8,000 heard an address at a convention hall. Another 40,000 lined the route between the two places.

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1936: Alfred Landon

Kansas’ governor came to Buffalo in his bid to unseat Franklin D. Roosevelt after Roosevelt’s first term in office.

Alfred Landon waves his hat to Buffalonians lined up in Shelton Square and along Main Street in August, 1936. Today, this spot has One M&T Plaza to the left, and the Main Place Tower and Mall to the right. (Buffalo Stories archives)
Landon rally at Offermann Stadium. The ballpark was one block east of Main Street at Michigan Avenue. The spot is now occupied by Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. (Buffalo Stories archives)

After parading through the streets, Landon stopped at the Statler Hotel for a tea put on by Buffalo’s Republican women. That night, Landon held a rally under the lights at Offermann Stadium, which was the home of the Bisons from 1924 to 1960.
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1952: Adlai Stevenson II

Stevenson was the man who took on Gen. Dwight Eisenhower for the Oval Office being vacated by Harry Truman in 1952. He then ran against the incumbent President Eisenhower in 1956.

Named after his grandfather — who was vice president during Grover Cleveland’s second term — Stevenson was governor of Illinois and was later named ambassador to the United Nations by President Kennedy.

Adlai Stevenson signs a campaign poster from the back of his train in Niagara Falls. Stevenson spoke to about 1,000 people just outside Niagara Falls New York Central Station.

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1964: Barry Goldwater

The Arizona senator joined his running mate, William E. Miller, in the congressman’s hometown of Lockport for a September 1964 campaign stop.

05-sep-1964-goldwater
Buffalo Stories archives

It was declared “Bill Miller Day” in Lockport in honor of the candidate for the vice presidency.  The crowds were compared favorably to four years earlier, when John F. Kennedy — then a senator and candidate for president — barnstormed through Niagara County, including a speech in Lockport.

One difference — despite the crowd’s being made up of people who knew, loved and were proud of their neighbor and his accomplishments — as many as 100 Niagara County sheriff’s deputies were there to keep order and protect the candidates. The stop was only 10 months removed from the assassination of President Kennedy.

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1968: Hubert Humphrey

Vice President Humphrey picked up the mantel of the Democratic Party following President Johnson’s announcement that he wouldn’t run for re-election, and then the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

Humphrey visited Buffalo many times during his time in the senate and during his time as vice president.

Hubert Humphrey speaks with anti-Vietnam War protesters, standing on Delaware Avenue, just off Niagara Square in front of the Statler Hotel in September, 1968. (Buffalo Stories archives)

 

Buffalo in the ’60s: Luke Easter’s 500-foot home run

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s spring in Western New York. For most of the last 137 years, that has meant getting ready for Bisons baseball.

Buffalo News archives

This 1957 photo shows Offermann Stadium, home of the Bisons from 1924 to 1960, and the path of Luke Easter’s record 500-plus-foot home run over the scoreboard that year. It was the first time that it have ever been done during a game in the park’s 33-year history — although legend had it that Babe Ruth once hit a ball over the scoreboard during an exhibition.

The outfield billboards are an interesting snapshot of life in Buffalo in 1957 as well.

WKBW’s clock advertises the station that wouldn’t become Buffalo’s top 40 rock ‘n’ roll leader for another year yet. Weber’s Mustard remains a Buffalo favorite, but Madison Cab, Don Allen Chevy and the rest all only exist in Buffalo memories.

Buffalo in the ’20s: Lacrosse at Buffalo’s Baseball Park

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

From 1889 to 1960, the International League Buffalo Bisons played at East Ferry, Masten and Michigan.

For the first 35 years, Buffalo Baseball Park was barely more than glorified wooden bleachers. But under the direction of team owner and Erie County Sheriff Frank Offermann, Bison Stadium opened in 1924. The park was renamed in Offermann’s memory when he died unexpectedly at the age of 59.

The city owned Offermann Stadium, and in 1960, the land was reclaimed to build Woodlawn Junior High, which today is Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts.

As a city-owned facility, Offermann Stadium and its predecessors were open to far more than just baseball. This 1920s photo shows a lacrosse game, and outfield ads for, among other items, Buffalo-brewed Phoenix Beer.

Buffalo News archives

The extreme right side shows some players standing behind the play, an outfield ad for baseball tickets, and several homes — including one with a distinctive turret.

While sports fans no longer look at the house, it doesn’t look much different 90 years later for students staring out one of the Woodlawn Avenue windows at Performing Arts.