Jazz Musician/journalist Writes Autobiography

By Frank Fisher Of The | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 8, 1995 | Go to article overview

Jazz Musician/journalist Writes Autobiography


Frank Fisher Of The, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


"This book is about a romantic triangle - a love affair between me, music and the written word."

Thus begins - and pretty well sums up - the soon-to-be-released autobiography of John Richard Small. Small is better known as "J.R." to those who've enjoyed his jazz piano or humorous newspaper columns over the decades.

"The Checkerboard Triangle: A Love Story, Sort Of," tells how Small rebounded from a short-lived marriage and failure at two colleges to become an accomplished band musician and journalist. In between, he had a love affair or two and played alongside a few legends, including Count Basie and Lionel Hampton.

Lately, the 67-year-old Small's lucky streak has been put to the test. Racked by diabetes and other health problems, Small has had both his legs amputated and is undergoing rehabilitation at a Harrisburg nursing home.

"I just had to get it down on paper while I was still around to do it," Small said in an interview. "I'm sitting here in this nursing home undergoing therapy for artificial legs, and I've got a lot of time on my hands."

It took Small seven months to write the short book, due to be released in July by New Authors Publications of West Frankfort. As editor of The Daily Register in Harrisburg, where his first job was painting the women's restroom in 1943, Small was able to have a computer brought to his room. …

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