Remembering the Owl

Colder than a witch’s tit, it’s the winter of 1956 and with head down with the little PHILCO radio under my arm I make my way up to the Sunday dance at my local parish. I will make about $15.00 checking coats with my friend Barry Diemert.The money will go to buy some vinyl. We will listen to the Leaf game and yak as the hours fly by. Our work is generally done quickly as the dancers file in to the Young People’s Club in St.Peter’s basement.Barry and I head down to the hall to dig the music.

And the star attraction? For me it was Eugene Amaro (”the Owl”)“ who was the mainstay of drummer Ron Rully’s quartet. Eugene just lived down the street across from St.Pete’s school and was already on his way to becoming a fixture in the Toronto jazz scene. His big tenor always carried the melody and the songs they always played are still with me…Duke’s Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,Strayhorn’s Satin Doll and Sam “The Man” Taylor’s Harlem Nocturne.At that time for some strange reason, Rodgers and Hart’s 1934 tune Blue Moon was also making a comeback.

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