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Richard Hadlock

RICHARD HADLOCK SHOWED UP during the last of the East Side Wedding recording sessions to surprise us with a copy of Wolff Kostakowsky's 1916 klezmer tunebook — an exceedingly rare source that we consulted often in the years to come.

Over time, Richard became my musical mentor, shepherding my evolution from flutist to sax player and tuning my ear to the wildly expressive sound of early jazzers like Sidney Bechet. Hadlock was in fact a Bechet disciple; the 1921 Buescher soprano sax he sold me (in barter for my soul) had once been played by the master himself.

If Marty Schwartz fed my klezmer jones, Richard Hadlock — his Berkeley house crammed to the roof with 78-rpm jazz rarities — provided the flip side of my education in 1920s music. My gentle, modest friend Hadlock turned out to be quite the heavy hitter in jazz circles: a respected historian (author of Jazz Masters of the Twenties) and powerful reedman who had performed and recorded with Kid Ory, Muggsy Spanier, Turk Murphy, and Butch Thompson. I benefited from his hipster wisdom continually, whether hangin' at his pad or listening to his weekly Annals of Jazz broadcasts on KQED-FM in San Francisco.

If my excesses as a performer — or eccentricities as a player — made Richard's hair turn white, he was far too kind to mention it. In any case, he profoundly influenced The Klezmorim's musical direction. Dick Hadlock is a living national treasure.