Love Of Music
Jamestown Native, Jazz Clarinetist Publishes Autobiography
As it turns out, compiling 83 years of memories into a single source is no easy feat, even when the material is a composite of one’s own life.
Such was the experience of Jim Beatty, a world-renowned traditional jazz clarinetist with Jamestown roots, when he set about crafting his recently published autobiography “Still Ramblin’: The Life and Times of Jim Beatty.”
“A lot of people have been asking me to write a book over the years, and I finally decided to do it,” said Beatty, who is now semi-retired and residing in Portland, Oregon. “It took me three years to write the darn thing and I wasn’t planning on that, but I’m glad I did and I’m happy with the way it turned out. I think this book will be of interest to people in Jamestown because there’s a lot in there about Jamestown back in the day, when it was a hopping place.”
Beatty was born in Jamestown in 1934 and began playing clarinet at age 8, having received one for his birthday. He started his playing career in Jamestown in 1952, when he formed his first band, and later moved to Los Angeles until the U.S. Army drafted him in 1956.
After graduating from the Army’s School of Music at Fort Dix, N.J., Beatty was assigned to the 384th Army Band at Fort Eustis, Va. There he found steady work playing at the Post NCO Club as well as in and around Virginia, and winning the Post All-Army talent contest. He culminated his Army stint by being a featured soloist for the 1957 visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England.
Following stints with bands in the Bahamas and New Orleans, and performances taking him throughout the U.S. and Canada, Beatty returned to Jamestown in 1964 and formed The Dixielads.
The group quickly became one of Western New York’s most popular groups and developed a large following in cities such as Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester.
However, despite his popularity in New York, Beatty decided to take on the challenge of pursuing his music in the Pacific Northwest and, along with his wife and two sons, moved to Portland in the fall of 1967. Once situated, he began playing seven nights a week with many local bands, including Monte Ballou’s Castle Jazz Band, and later with his own Jim Beatty Jazz Band.
“Still Ramblin'” is a recounting the highs and lows of a nearly 75-year musical career that took him from the bars of New York City to Royal audiences in Europe, and performances to sold-out audiences across the U.S. and in Holland, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and even for the King of Bulgaria. Thankfully, when it came time to put all of this information down in print, Beatty had to credit his organizational skills.
“Fortunately, I have a good memory,” he said. “When I started into the music business I made a habit of saving press releases and photos and scrapbooks, so I had all of those to look over and jog my memory. Also, when my mother passed away I ended up with all of her pictures that she had of me when I was a baby, which was also helpful.
“If I didn’t have all of this information it probably would’ve taken me 30 years to put this book together.”
In recent years, Beatty has emerged as a highly renowned jazz soloist. In addition to the Jim Beatty Jazz Band, he has been performing as a guest soloist literally all over the world. These guest appearances have taken him to China, Scotland, Wales, England, Canada and parts of Europe.
He has become particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where he tours several weeks out of the year as a guest soloist at concerts and jazz festivals. He also makes annual guest appearances in his home state of New York and, in the winter months, performs in the Phoenix and Palm Springs areas.
Beatty’s autobiography is available for $20 on Amazon at amazon.com/Still-Ramblin-Life-Times-Beatty/dp/1542448972. An electronic Kindle version is also available for $10.
For more information on Beatty and his storied career, visit jimbeattyjazz.com.