Boston and the surrounding area is rich in history, from the colonial era forward, and I appreciate all of it. But I am particularly interested in Boston in the 20th century, and have researched the middle years of that century extensively. My interest in the city’s cultural history led me to form Troy Street Publishing as a vehicle for sharing my research and writing.

The Boston Jazz Chronicles Cover
Click here to buy The Boston Jazz Chronicles on Amazon now.

My first endeavor was a seven-year labor of love, The Boston Jazz Chronicles, which I published through Troy Street in 2012. It was early in the self-publishing game and I thought the prospects and possibilities of that game were endless. I still do, and my goal is to publish the projects described elsewhere on this site.

This website, and its blog, The Troy Street Observer, are the primary outlets for telling my stories, but there are others—public speaking, walking tours, and a YouTube channel that puts some of the historic but out-of-print recordings back in circulation.

What’s in it for you? On this site you’ll find content about Boston people, places and events that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ve opened a window, and through it you’ll hear some of the not-so-common stories of Boston. Check back often to see what’s new.

—Richard Vacca

 

The Troy Street Observer

Tak Takvorian Pt 2: Thornhill, Dorsey, Pomeroy

Part 1 of this post covered Tak Takvorian’s years in the wartime navy bands of Artie Shaw and Sam Donahue. Part 2 continues the story from the time of his 1946 discharge. Read Part 1 here.

On a Modern Kick with Thornhill and Evans

“I came back home to Boston, but I didn’t stay long. Sam Donahue organized a new band in March and I went out again. It was a tough time to start a new band, though. Then I had a chance to go with Claude Thornhill in June of 1946.” Tak replaced Tasso Harris, his section mate from the navy band.

Photo of Tak Takvorian, 1947
Tak Takvorian, 1947. Photo William Gottlieb Collection, US. Library of Congress.

“That was a good band, too, with Red Rodney, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, and Barry Galbraith. Ted Goddard, also from around Boston (Medford), was playing alto when I joined. Gil Evans was writing and arranging. We did quite a bit of recording, things like “Robbin’s Nest,” “Snowfall,” and “La Paloma.” A few of Gil’s arrangements where I had solos were “Donna Lee” and “Anthropology.”

Thornhill and Evans knew what they were getting when Takvorian joined the band—a versatile anchor to the trombone section who could play with Dorsey-like smoothness on the dance tunes, and Dickie Wells-like flamboyance on the jazz tunes. Evans, the master colorist, had those dreamy clarinets and French horns to work with, but he wanted the excitement of deeper colors, too. A Metronome magazine reviewer in December 1946 said as much shortly after Tak’s arrival, noting “Tak Takvorian’s bruising trombone has added punch to the band.”

Here’s Gil’s arrangement of “Donna Lee,” with a brief Tak Takvorian solo. You’ll never mistake him for J.J. Johnson, but Tak was moving into modern jazz, and bringing his Dickie Wells sensibilities with him.

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