If you missed last week’s Coming Out Day panel at the Westport Library — titled “When Did You Know,” and featuring several members of the LGBTQ community discussing their coming out stories — click below. The event was sponsored by Westport Pride.
(NOTE: The program begins at the 4:30 mark — skip ahead to that point.)
A local favorite — the Chris Coogan Trio, featuring bassist John Mobilio and drummer Jim Royle — headline this Thursday’s “Jazz at the Post.”
Of course, Greg Wall — the “Jazz Rabbi” — will bring his saxophone too.
Pianist Coogan grew up here. He travels the world, but still calls this area home. He is a sensitive, in-demand accompanist for singers, a powerhouse gospel pianist, choir director and bandleader, a highly effective and inspiring educator, and an all-around good guy.
There are 2 sets October 20: 7:30 and 8:45 p.m (VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue). Dinner begins at 7 p.m. There’s a $10 cover; reservations are strongly suggested: JazzatThePost@gmail.com.
Staples High School’s October Students of the Month are senior Jeffrey Pogue, juniors Nina Lauterbach and Morgan Tamm, sophomores Samantha Henske and Logan Noorily, and Eleni Bragi.
Students of the Month are those who help make Staples a welcoming place for peers and teachers. Principal Stafford Thomas says, “they are the ‘glue’ of the community — the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together. They are friendly to the staff and fellow students, and make positive contributions in class as well as to the Staples community.”
Staples’ October Students of the Month (from left): Eleni Braga, Nina Lauterbach, Logan Noorily, Samantha Henske, Jeffrey Pogue, Morgan Tamm.
Former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe moderated the discussion. Asked about affordable housing, the Democratic incumbent said that local communities need to take the lead.
Traffic is a problem in the state, Lamont said — and entrance/exit ramps on highways are the source of the greatest congestion. He also noted that train bridges were not build for high-speed rail traffic, and cause slowdowns.
With unemployment very low in Connecticut, Lamont said there is a job for everyone who wants one. Though recession headwinds are ahead, he said, the state is in good shape.
The governor also noted that Connecticut has the largest unfunded pension debt in the country. However, he said, his administration has reduced interest debt, saving $400 million in interest payments.
Lamont also recalled that he met his wife Annie in Westport. (Reporting by Dave Matlow)
Governor Ned Lamont and former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, at yesterday’s Y’s Men event at the Westport Library. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
Dozens of rescue vehicles — helicopters, tanks, ambulances, you name it — converged on Sherwood Island State Park yesterday.
Fortunately, it was just a drill.
Local and regional authorities and incident management teams shared knowledge, and demonstrated technology for Connecticut politicians and other services. The event was organized by the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, for the 14-town area.
!st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan represented Westport.
Among the activities:
This bomb squad robot has X-ray vision, and can shoot projectiles.
Pumpkin spice lattes and muffins have been here since around Independence Day.
Now it’s time for “Fall Pumpkin Centerpieces.”
That’s the title of a session at Wakeman Town Farm (October 4, 6:30 p.m.). Chryse Terrill will instruct attendees on how to create a fall harvest centerpiece inside a pumpkin. Some materials will be harvested from WTF’s gardens.
Of course, everyone can take home their work of art. Click here to register.
Former Westporter Ellen Wisser died Friday in Norwalk. She was 92.
The Brooklyn native attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with classmates and friends Grace Kelly and Vince Edwards. At Brooklyn College she met her future husband and lifetime love, Allen Wisser, who had already performed with the Broadway show “Showboat”‘s national tour.
After they married Ellen taught at James Madison High School in Brooklyn.
Ellen and Allen moved their young family to Westport in 1960. Ellen continued commuting to Brooklyn, then began teaching English, speech and drama at Harding High School in Bridgeport. She also produced and directed the annual school play, influencing the lives of many teachers and students, who continued to stay in touch for decades.
Ellen was active in the Bridgeport, Connecticut and National Educational Associations. She ran for the NEA presidency in 1976. She was an advocate of the women’s liberation movement at the local and national levels.
Ellen changed careers in her 50’s, attending Bridgeport Law (now the Quinnipiac School of Law). She then practiced family and worker’s compensation law until age 88. Ellen recently survived 3 different types of cancer, forcing her retirement, and defeated unbeatable odds.
She was predeceased by her husband, grandson Tyler Wisser and brother Marvin Borenstein. She is survived by her children, Dr. Jamie R. Wisser (Natalie), Kerry M. Wisser (Debbie), R. Ilise Gold (Fritz Heilbron); grandchildren Davin Gold, Alanna Dayton, Evan Wisser, Caitlyn Wisser, Ryan Wisser; great grandchildren Jack, Sam and Beck Dayton, Claire and Penelope Wisser; sister-in-law Gladys Floch, many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services will be held today (Tuesday, September 20, 1 p.m., Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home, Fairfield), with interment following at Temple Israel Cemetery in Norwalk.
Roger Ratchford died earlier this month, at 88. He was a teacher, golf coach, and advocate for people with disabilities.
The Norwalk native was raised mostly by his mother, with the help of the large Hungarian side of his family. Though she died when he was 13, Roger went on to become valedictorian of his class at Fairfield Prep. To supplement a tuition scholarship to the College of the Holy Cross, he worked afternoon shifts at Worcester Quilting Company.
After graduating he returned to Prep to teach Latin, classical Greek, French and English, and coach the golf team for 40 years. He was inducted into the Prep Athletic Hall of Fame, was named National High School Golf Coach of the Year, and held a national record for wins.
Roger was also one of the first to bring American high school students to the French Alps for homestays with French families. He strongly felt that immersion was the best way to master a language.
Until the end of his life, heh could recite by memory passages from Homer’s “Odyssey” — in the original Greek. He was proud of his work helping the nuns at the Convent of St. Birgitta in the proper pronunciation of Latin chants.
But Roger felt his greatest legacy was improving opportunities for people with disabilities. Inspired by his son Mike, he and his wife Gail became actively involved in the growth of STAR, Inc.
He lobbied for the closure of Mansfield Training Center in 1993, and advocated for a shift to group homes and the full integration of people with disabilities into the community. Two-time president of STAR, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the ARC of CT in 1988.
He was a walking encyclopedia of Norwalk history, and was proud of the Ratchfords’ long legacy in this town, from the Ratchford Hotel & Saloon in the first part of the 20th century, to his Aunt Helen’s tenure as a teacher at Norwalk High.
Roger was predeceased by his wife. He is survived by 3 children and 1 grandchild. His family is indebted to Dorrean, Sharon Mack, and her staff for their loving care during hospice.
A funeral mass will be held on Thursday (September 22, 2 pm, St. Mary’s Church, Norwalk. A Celebration of Life will be held at Fairfield Prep some time in October. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to STAR Lighting the Way.
Westport is filled with very intriguing people, doing very interesting things.
At the top of any list is Greg Wall. The “Jazz Rabbi” leads the Beit Chaverim modern Orthodox congregation. His side gig: He’s an internationally known jazz saxophonist.
From a shul in the East Village to Carnegie Hall; from the Torah to Miles Davis, and (of course) from his synagogue on Friday nights to jazz at the VFW Post on Thursdays, the Jazz Rabbi does it all.
The other day, we sat on the Westport Library Verso Studios’ stage. He talked about his journey from suburban Boston (spoiler alert: he was not observant) to suburban Westport, plus all the religious and musical stops in between.
I asked about the intersections, challenges and joys of his 2 lives. I also asked about his other interests (spoiler alert: he’s a sailor too).
He’s performed around the world — including, in 1983, the Soviet Union’s first public jazz performance in 40 years. Stowell has also been artist-in-residence at schools in Germany, Indonesia, Argentina, the US and Canada.
He recorded with Lionel Hampton. He appeared on BET Jazz Discovery. His “Through the Looking Glass” LP was chosen as one of the Best Jazz Albums of the Decade by the Los Angeles Examiner.
Greg Wall — “The Jazz Rabbi,” and a world-renowned saxophonist — knew all of that when he asked Stowell to join him this Thursday (December 5), for 2 shows at Pearl at Longshore (6:30 and 8:15 p.m.).
One thing Wall did not know, though: Stowell is a 1968 graduate of Staples High School.
The connection came out as they chatted. Though Stowell — who now lives in Portland, Oregon — still has many friends in the area, and visits once or twice a year, he has not played here in at least 40 years.
Despite his pedigree, Stowell is not a product of the Westport schools’ famed music program. He came late to jazz — after Staples. He studied with, and was mentored by, John Mehegan and Linc Chamberland.
He left Fairfield County in 1974, for New York. Two years later, he headed to the West Coast.
Stowell looks forward to playing in Westport — and meeting Wall. They’ll be joined by 7-time Grammy-winning bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Rogerio Boccato.
Neither of whom — as far as we know — has a local connection. Besides, that is, bringing cool jazz music to a very cool venue.
Last month, “06880” reported on a piano plea from 323.
Music lovers at the North Main Street restaurant hoped to raise $11,000 to buy a piano. The one used for 323’s popular Thursday night jazz series — lent by Beit Chaverim Synagogue (through their leader, Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall) — was not up to the job.
This was not just any piano, mind you. It was a fine 1937 Steinway “M” — from New York’s legendary Village Gate. For decades beginning in 1958, it was played by greats like Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Ahmad McCoy Tyner, Erroll Garner, Nina Simone and Sun Ra.
Would jazz lovers an hour from the city pony up the cash to give it a second life in Westport?
Yes! The deal has been closed. The new piano is already safely in its new home, right near the bar.
Steinway’s classic piano, in its new 323 home.
The official welcome show is this Thursday (May 19, 7:30 p.m.). It’s billed as “Chris Coogan Meets the Jazz Rabbi.” All are welcome.
The fine print: The newly formed Jazz Society of Fairfield County has not yet raised the full amount. An interest-free loan from an anonymous jazz lover will tide them over for a few days. They hope to reach their goal this week, and start a fund for periodic maintenance, regulation and tuning. Contributions can be made via PayPal (click here). For other arrangements, email JazzRabbi@gmail.com. For 323’s Jazz Series Facebook page, click here.
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