Book Review of Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District by Al Rose
Al Rose was a mentor and great friend to me. He died in New Orleans thirteen years ago and was given a jazz funeral. He researched Storyville for 14 years. Many of the records had intentionally been destroyed. At the time he began the research he was living in Hollywood, FL and wanted to paint a mural and map of Storyville on a wall in his home. He was a wonderful artist as well as writer. When he went to find a good map of Storyville and more details he discovered that the records of ownership of the well known houses of prostitution had been razored out of the official deed books. Intrigued by this he went on and on and the result was Storyville. He was a renaissance man: artist, writer, jazz impresario, labor organizer. He fought in the Spanish Civil War and worked with the Quakers to smuggle social democratic leaders out of Eastern Europe after the soviets took over. He studied under Diego Rivera, knew Trotsky, was a friend and confidant of every great jazz musician of the 20th Century, and befriended all of them. I sat in his living room one night while Eubie Blake played the piano. Al wrote his biography and knew him for 50 years. He produced jazz records for the State of Louisiana, still much in demand by collectors. The records bear the legend, “recorded under the personal supervision of Al Rose.” His real name was much longer – he was from a very old New Orleans family and actually had to take fencing lessons in case he had to fight a duel. I miss him a lot.