"They had both things going on the same street," recalls drummer Eddie Phyfe of New York's 52nd Street in the 1940s. "Georg Brunis took his traditional style band and marched across the street playing 'The Saints Go Marchin' In' to where Dizzy Gillespie was playing one night. Then Dizzy got 17 guys and marched over to Jimmy Ryan's Dixieland club and played 'Salt Peanuts' or something in the door." Phyfe and many of his contemporaries "played both sides of the street." In the course of one evening, for example, he would keep the beat going now for stride pianist Willie the Lion Smith, later for bopper Bud Powell's keyboard flights. Something of that nature will take place every Thursday evening, 6 to 9 p.m., in the Shoreham's Marquee Lounge, where the veteran drummer and his quartet will be "going through a lot of musical literature, playing everything from Jelly Roll Morton to Chick Corea." Paul Wingo will be on guitar, Lennie Cuje' at the vibraphone and Steve Novosel on bass.
Phyfe is still equally facile in the earlier styles and the new sounds that came forward in the '40s, both bop and the "far-out experimentation" of that era. Only last year he produced a series of concerts at the National Press Club and backed up players as disparate as Wild Bill Davison, Al Cohn and Scott Hamilton. He credits his versatility to his admiration for the late drummer Big Sid Catlett. "Think about it," the Glen Echo resident observes: "He played with Armstrong, Lester Young and Bird Charlie Parker . That's the kind of drummer I was trying to be."