[JPL] Re: Joel Dorn

Toby Gleason toby_gleason at sbcglobal.net
Tue Dec 18 20:11:51 EST 2007

I first met Joel Dorn in 1989, on the telephone. I’d recently begun  
managing my late father’s collected works for the family and he’d  
gotten my phone number from Lewis Porter.
Joel was working, then, on the Rhino Records CD re-issue package for  
John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. He’d heard, from Lewis, about an audio- 
taped interview my father had done with Coltrane and wanted to know  
if I would make some of it available to him for the Giant Steps re- 
issue promotion package.
We must have talked for two hours! The Masked Announcer agreed to let  
me pick his brains from time to time and we both agreed to stay off  
each other’s coasts (I, too, am a voice-over announcer!) We talked  
about three or four times a year after that.
In the late ‘90’s, Joel called me to say he was in San Francisco for  
one of the last Gavin Conventions and could we meet, in person, at  
the St. Francis Hotel, where the convention was being held, while he  
was there. We made arrangements to meet in the lobby the next day.
Now, Joel and I had never met in person and I’d only seen his photo  
on an old album cover or two, so we didn’t really have any idea what  
each other looked like. And we were arranging to meet in the lobby of  
a hotel where 15,000 record business types were hanging out!
Needless to say, we recognized each other right away. We were the two  
tallest, thinnest, bearded people in the room. After we had lunch,  
Joel invited me up to his room to hear a mix of one of his latest  
projects, which turned out to be an Aaron Neville record. It was an  
old Drifters tune called Save The Last Dance For Me. It was  
beautiful. When it was over, Joel said that Aaron hadn’t even heard  
the mix yet and asked me what I thought. Wow!
I asked him if he wanted my honest opinion or just a rave review. He  
asked for my honest response. I told him “…it needs castanets.” When  
I saw the look on his face, I said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “… no,  
wait. I’m single-handedly working for the return of castanets to the  
pop music recording industry. Just go back to New York, play it for  
Aaron, mention castanets and see what he says.” I was hugely  
gratified when, about four weeks later, Joel called me to say that  
when he’d played the mix for Aaron, he hadn’t even gotten around to  
mentioning them when the first thing Aaron said was… “…needs castanets.”
I will remember, and treasure, our talks and that meeting. It was the  
only time we met in person. Joel was the first jazz professional to  
treat me with the same respect that others reserved for my father. I  
will miss him. But I will still talk to him, in my head. And I’ll  
still be able to hear him answer, with a laugh, a wise crack or with  
a piece of invaluable advice, information or support. He was one of a  
kind. The Masked Announcer rides!

Toby Gleason
Santa Rosa, CA

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