Remembering Benny Baily 1 of 5
Aaron J. Imperiale Matuszewski December 11, 05
I saw Benny perform in December, 1998 while both he and I were home in Cleveland for the holidays. Excited and super-charged, I rounded up my 4 little brothers (aged 9-15 at the time) and took them down to the gig: a Baptist church in run-down East Cleveland. Except for the pianist, a local cat named Jackie, we were the only white-folk in the crowd--a mix of pin-strips, patent leather shoes, red dresses, gold chains and lots of sunglasses. The fact that we showed up in jeans and wore Indians' caps didn't seem to matter: the music seized everyone in the crowded, little church hall, transcending race, creed and color. Shouts of "Play that horn, brother!" and "Show us what you got, man!" added further emotion to an already intense performance. The show was sensational and Benny's modesty and graciousness an inpiration. How sad that yet another exceptionally talented jazz musician has fallen by the wayside, only to die abandoned and alone in a forgotten cubby hole in Amsterdam. I will never forget the day that Benny, a fellow Clevelander, brought tears to my eyes and happiness to my heart. Thank you my brother.
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