Marty was a massive, compulsive jazz fanatic!!! In his autobiography he speaks of his love of the art and how he used it in his life in everything he did. Lauretta would often say that she would ask him what he was doing with his mouth and he would reply “scatting inside for nobody needs it outside.” Marty used music in most of his work. He had hoped to make a film about Louis Armstrong in London during his visit there in 1969, but ended up being too busy to get it going. He had his hugely popular TV show It’s Marty, was shooting a small role in his first film The Bed Sitting Room, and had landed a starring role in the film Every Home Should Have One. Other projects loomed and sadly the moment passed. Marty used his pocket trumpet in his character of the hustling bishop on a train. See it here …
Sometime in late 1969 or early 1970, Marty was asked to take part in a function that celebrated jazz in England. Jazz Journal magazine covered the mostly private event which honored English jazz legends Tubby Hayes, Humphrey Littleton and others. Marty played trumpet in an early incarnation of a band known as Marty Feldman’s Pre-Bebop Seven. Tubby Hayes, the great trombone player was in that band. Marty’s skills as a leader were enough to override his lack of ability as a trumpeter. He wisely chose a different career. At the function Marty played “Jeepers Creepers” with Dusty Springfield.
Marty had not brought a horn to the event because he thought he was just presenting. According to Lauretta, the great Dizzy Gillespie offered Marty a horn to use and was pleasantly surprised that Marty could carry a tune. Marty found out after the jam that the horn was Louis Armstrong’s who was also present but was not up to playing at this time. Louis had health issues and died within the year. Marty was told by both Dizzy and Louis that the horn should be his and that he should inspire others with it. Marty thought it was a joke and soon found out that they were quite serious after they departed and he was left with said horn.
Marty brought the horn with him everywhere. When he moved into his house in Laurel Canyon he would host jams and had a full set of drums, a piano, various other instruments all set up permanently in his bar area. Dizzy Gillespie would visit and others such as Sarah Vaughan and Harry Sweets Edison would stay at the house when passing through. When I first visited with Lauretta at their house in 1992, I asked her if Marty played the trumpet. She said yes, and that the trumpet case I was looking at contained a Conn trumpet that Marty received from Louis and Dizzy and was by far his most cherished possession, along with his Buster Keaton hat that Eleanor Keaton had gifted to him.
Twenty-four years after I first saw the trumpet I was backstage at Largo in Los Angeles telling this great trumpet player named Tony Guerrero about Marty’s horn. He asked me to bring the horn in the next night so he could see it. Tony is a massive, compulsive Louis fanatic! He and his great band were accompanying the fantastic Miss Jane Lynch on a two-night run at Largo. I brought it in and Tony had it to his mouth before I could say much. He immediately made the most amazing sounds. He then asked if he could play it during that night’s performance. He did and here now is a video of Marty’s horn coming to life for the first real time in over thirty years. Lauretta would have been proud and Marty would have been floating.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Marty with his friend Dizzy Gillespie
Young BluE eyEs