Desert Island Jazz
Tom Madden (2009)

(Photo by Richard Mayer Photography)

Go to a jazz gig in the San Francisco Bay Area and you're certain to see Tom Madden (if you don't, then it's not a real jazz gig). You can't miss him: after all, how many six-foot five-inch guys with a gray beard and pony-tail to match can there be?

Tom's been taking in jazz gigs here and there ever since he was a small boy (well, a tall boy) in San Francisco, his favorite being the Black Hawk, whose food license permitted minors entrance. Half a century on, it's difficult to imagine that the house bands would be the likes of Cal Tjader and Dave Brubeck, although imagining the effect they would have on an up-and-coming jazz lover is easy.

Moving from one occupation to another, the adult Tom eventually found his métier, working in record stores, again moving from one to another. Eventually he opened his own store, Jazz Quarter in the Sunset District of San Francisco (1260 20th Avenue).

Described by Mark Levine in 'The Jazz Piano Book' as 'a walking discography', Tom is truly one of a kind, and is also one of a dying breed. Although he's still doing business in his home town, it's perhaps not as much business as he'd like. When you visit Jazz Quarter, you and Tom are likely to be the store's only occupants. But consider yourself fortunate: if he doesn't take to you, then Tom just might encourage you gently to leave; and if he really doesn't take you, then he might not let you in at all.


(Tom Madden died in August 2010.)
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Michel Sardaby Night Cap Traveling On (Sound Hills)
# 2 Lou Donaldson Lou's Blues Roccus (Past Perfect)
# 3 Don Lerman The Zoot Side of Life The Claw (New Charts Music)
# 4 Marty Grosz At Bob Bernard's Jazz Party '99 Take Me to That Land of Jazz (Nif Nuf)
# 5 Gérard Badini Swing Machine (LP) Cornet Chop Suey (Blue Star)
# 6 The Anachronic Jazz Band Anachronic Jazz Band (LP) 'Round Midnight (Open)
# 7 The Anachronic Jazz Band Anachronic Jazz Band II (LP) Giant Steps/Blues to Bechet (Open)
# 8 Sebastian Whittaker and the Creators One for Bu Q-Solly (Justice)
         
Book Sidney Bechet, "Treat It Gentle"
         
Luxury Item Sacrapantina from Stella Bakery, North Beach
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