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|Personalities -- by Phil Cartwright
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|Fritz Kuenzel is one of the most sought
after tuba players in NE Ohio (warrants out
in several counties!). Seriously, Fritz is a
regular with the top bands in this area: New
Orleans Stompers, River City Jazz Band,
Hymns of Dixieland, and occasionally with
the Earlville Jazz Band, the New Orleans Jazz
Ensemble, and the Minstrels of Earlville. In
addition , he plays “legitimate” gigs and for
the past 15 years has played with the
Litchfield Town Band.
He has a great ear as is evidenced by the
superb way he plays some of those obscure
tunes in the Minstrels repertoire. In his own
words, “As for myself, a little tuba goes a
long way. I try to keep it light, not get
bogged down, and I try to do things that
will help the group without getting in the
way.” Fritz truly is a “Musician’s musician”.
Barb Scott is in her second term as EARLYJAS
Trustee. She is a real trooper. She can usually be
seen working the admission/membership table
along with Jan Irvin. Barb has been an active
member of the club for more than ten years. She
and her late husband, Larry, were attracted to
EARLYJAS because of the music and for the
friendship of like minded jazz fans.
|Barb Scott passed away in October 2005.
Barb had her share of childhood music lessons but never performed in jazz or dance bands.
Instead, she has had a lifelong love of music – just about all kinds of music. She likes classical, folk,
and especially big band and traditional Dixieland jazz. Barb admits to not being a fan of rap, hard
rock or heavy metal. (Except she does like Tuba Christmas!) She has a collection of vinyl records,
some 78s, and boxes of sheet music.
She and Larry were introduced to EARLYJAS by Jan and Bill Irvin. She remembers attending her
first EARLYJAS Festival and thinking what a nice way to raise money for charity. Indeed, the club
has been able to donate Festival proceeds for several years to the Kidney Foundation. Barb serves
as Trustee to that organization.
Not long after joining the club, Larry became treasurer of EARLYJAS and maintained that post for
many years. Larry ran a tight ship and made sure that the finances were in order for the club to
keep its non-profit status.
Barb was raised in Toledo and graduated from Mercy College School of Nursing. She has done
both private nursing and industrial nursing. She and Larry were married in 1953 and spent some
years in Mississippi and Pennsylvania before settling in Tallmadge in 1972.
Barb and Larry liked to travel have visited many places in the United States. Foreign travel has
included several cruises and visits to the Caribbean, Italy, the Netherlands, and Aegean Greece.
Barb, like many of us in EARLYJAS, is somewhat concerned about the future of the music. She
notes that there are not a lot of young people attending our concerts and the local jazz venues. She
is happy to note that at least one small group of youngsters is ‘keeping the faith’. Chuck Taylor’s
Dixie Squids from the Toledo area put on a fine show for EARLYJAS a few months ago. Let us
hope that other young people will catch the bug and keep the music alive. Barb, thanks for
your service to EARLYJAS!
Tom Weil recently was elected an EARLYJAS Trustee and immediately began working on behalf of the club. Among other
things, Tom keeps in contact with some 17 publications and groups to inform them about EARLYJAS activities and events.
He is an active board member and his experiences as senior executive in the corporate world is of great benefit to the club.
Tom’s interest in jazz is long standing. He won’t say just how many years but you can do the math! Tom is a Cleveland
native and a product of the Shaker schools. Some of his earliest memories are as a four year old eagerly helping to wind the
Victrola. (That’s hint # 1.) His parents had lots of 78 rpm records ranging from classical through pops to jazz. Tom liked
Tom’s musical training was brief: Trombone in grade school. It didn’t take. He decided to be a listener and collector. He
started collecting 78s in 8th grade. After a brief interest in the bigger bands of Ben Pollack’s Whoopee Makers, Benny
Goodman and especially Bob Crosby, Tom became enamored by another, different sound. His dad gave him eight sides of
the Wolverines, Bix Beiderbecke’s band from 1924. That really hooked Tom on smaller jazz bands.
Over the years, Tom collected over 1000 78s, most original issues, mainly small groups. He recently donated them to the
music library at BGSU. We are talking early Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and King Oliver, as well as many other
lesser known groups. And several on the original Gennett and Okeh labels.
Hint # 2: Tom was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid 40’s. (He was drafted in 1946 and
served for two years in the Army stationed near Manila re-mapping the Philippine Islands.)
As a student at MIT, Tom had at least two significant musical influences. First, MIT had a local student run music station that
aired only classical music. Other students, knowing of Tom’s big jazz collection and his knowledge of jazz, convinced the
station managers to produce a weekly jazz program. Tom played and talked about his music.
Second, Boston is not a long train ride to New York City. On many weekends, instead of studying, Tom made the trek to
New York to listen to the great jazz men at Nick/s and Condon’s. He often heard many of the famous ones like the DeParis
brothers, Joe Sullivan, Pee Wee Russell, Max Kaminsky, Sidney Bechet and Eddie Condon, and met several of them. He also
heard Bunk Johnson, with George Lewis, Baby Dodds and others at the Stuyvesant Casino Tom once accompanied Eddie
Condon to Eddie’s favorite musicians’ hangout, Julius’ Bar, where Eddie and others would tell music war stories (some of
the stories were even true!)
In addition to all the New York music experiences, there was a lot happening in Boston. For example, one winter, on
Sunday afternoons, Max Kaminsky played a local hotel along with Brad Gowans, Joe Bushkin, and Pee Wee Russell. At
Boston’s Savoy Café, Bob Wilber led a group that included Jimmy Archey, Dick Wellstood, Pops Foster,and Tommy
Benford. George Wein, Edmond Hall and Buzzy Drootin were also Boston regulars.
Tom was a frequent attendee at these sessions and got to know many of the players. He knew them well enough that he
enticed many of them to come to his studio and be interviewed for the MIT student station. Unfortunately, those live
interviews were not recorded!
In connection with his business, Tom traveled often to Chicago and San Francisco. In Chicago, he frequented the famous
Jazz Limited and 1111 clubs to hear Bill Reinhardt, Muggsy Spanier, and George Brunis. In San Francisco, he heard the Lu
Watters band at Hambone Kelly’s and Turk Murphy’s band at the various Earthquake McGoons.
So you see that Tom has had a long standing appreciation for traditional jazz. His current favorites are the Salty Dogs, the
South Frisco JB, the Climax JB and the Yerba Buena Stompers.
Tom Weil sold his company in the 1980’s to retire (Hint # 3.) Retirement was not his style and soon took on another
corporate venture for a few years. Now that he has finally retired (sort of) Tom works actively with the Business Advisors of
Cleveland, a group of former executives who use their expertise and experiences to help small business startups. He also has
served for many years on the board of the Old Stone Center for Education, a group that helps pregnant teenagers from inner
city schools. In addition to that service, Tom is a former board member of the Neighborhood Centers Association, a
conglomerate of associations trying to improve neighborhood life in Cleveland.
Finally, one of Tom’s pet projects is his 20 years with a non-profit group affiliated with MIT. The group endows scholarships
and selects the students to receive them. The group was started in 1948 by a 1916 MIT grad. Their endowment of $3 million
is focused toward selecting needy, non-traditional students whom they believe can make a difference in society.
Tom’s wife is a retired nutritionist. They have three daughters who live in Chicago, Albuquerque and Mendocino.
EARLYJAS salutes Tom for his service to worthy projects and his long time support of traditional jazz.
How Fritz got to where he is now is an amazing and wonderful story. He comes about his talent
naturally. Indeed, he traveled with a band from birth through age 5! His dad, Nordy, was a
professional musician (low brass, of course), who made his living traveling the country from East to
West with famous and not so famous bands, all the while with his wife, Min, and his twin sons Fritz
Nordy settled in Cleveland and the family lived in Lakewood and Avon Lake for many years. How
did Fritz get started on the tuba? There were several low brass instruments in the family: tuba,
baritone, trombone, alto. Fritz reports: “At age 8, it was my dad's decision to toss a coin to help
decide which twin was to play what instrument. Winners choice. Brother Hans won the toss and
promptly chose the trombone. I reluctantly got the tuba. With my father playing the baritone, it made
up a good combination of those three instruments that led to years of fun playing by ear. Dad would
play the melody, and Hans and I would fill in the harmony. There was never a time at holidays or
when anyone stopped by that we did not drag out our instruments and play.”
Fritz plays a big horn. Here’s the story: “In 1944 my father came up with $100 and traded in my old
tuba and my brother's first trombone, for the horn I still own and use today. A BB-flat 1933 King Tuba,
no lacquer, simple three valve system, and unusual foreign style 16 inch bell.”
Fritz has another tuba: “Sea World of Ohio gave me an opportunity to romp around the edge of a pool
with a tuba and get paid for it. Sea World was where I developed the Hose-a-phone. The recipe---
Take a beat up E-flat tuba worth about $40. Add four feet of garden hose. Pull out all the slides and
wrap with three feet of duct tape to hold it all together. The results were an instrument that even
Shamu couldn't destroy, not to mention the effects of 1,000,000 gallons of saltwater.”
Fritz also plays string bass. He developed an ingenious way to carry it around: “With the aid of a
hacksaw and chisel, I removed the spare tire rack and shelf from the back of my 1937 Plymouth coupe,
allowing the string bass to be pushed completely into the trunk with the neck going forward between
the front seats.”
Fritz was a Marine and did his stint at Parris Island, playing with the Headquarters Band and the
Dance Band. They played many festivals, the Orange Bowl and “every watermelon and cotton festival
in the state of South Carolina.” Later, one of the highlights of his musical career was playing the
Halloween parade with the Knights of St. John Band in Lorain. He marched two miles playing the tuba
while wearing a paper Mache pig head!
Fritz has lots of interesting tales to tell about his musical experiences. For example: “Episodes with
this tuba that I would like to forget are the time brother Hans, I, and a sax player were playing music
for some girls under the bridge that connects the north and south parking lots of Huntington Beach
Park in Bay Village. It was late at night and it didn't take long for the police to break up the little jam
session. The next morning I was horrified to discover my tuba was missing and not in the car. A frantic
trip back to the park located a grounds-keeper who had found it in the grass and placed it in a storage
Now, about the Katzenjammer bit: “My twin brother Hans and I were named Hans and Fritz, thanks
to a suggestion by my grandfather on my mother's side. He liked the Katzenjammer Kids comic strip. It
was about the antics of a couple of troublesome brats of the same name.”
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization