92-Year-Old Jazz great evicted from nursing facility

Fellow musicians and the New Orleans Jazz Museum are working together to help him

Musicians reunite to help musician evicted during pandemic

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - In the birthplace of Jazz so many musicians cross paths for a time and just like the rhythms of the music that intertwin they lose touch but are never forgotten. A living legend was evicted from his nursing home and his brothers in the beat are working to help him.

At 92-year-old cornetist Jack Fine is one of a precious few original Jazzmen still with us. Fine said, "I didn't come to music. Music came to me."

Fellow musicians recognize him as a master at his craft. Detroit Brooks met Fine when he played at Snug Harbor across the street from Fine’s gig at the Spotted Cat. He said, “I heard Mr. Jack playing at the Spotted Cat across the street. What he was playing was so great. Every Monday after that I would get to my gig early to listen to him.”

Brooks joked, “You were the only musician I knew that walked in the club, pulled out his horn and just played and the band wouldn’t get mad.” Usually against the rules according to the men.

Fine said, "I always have to play my horn." He played with the greats.

Fine performs in the 1950s.
Fine performs in the 1950s. (Source: New Orleans Jazz Museum)

Fine reminisced, "Pop was always on the road. He didn't get to stay in one spot too long." He was part part of the inner circle of Jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and Danny Barker.

Fine said, “Danny was a very good friend of mine. His wife, Florence, made the best gumbo I ever had.”

Most recently he was a fixture on Frenchman Street with the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, a band he co-founded.

Born in New York; one-time resident of Paris, Fine says New Orleans is his true home belting out, “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”

Unfortunately a new residence is what fellow musician James Williams is trying to provide for the man he sees as a mentor. Williams said, "I'm going to take care of you. Since I was 21 he's always been a sweetheart to me. He's helped me out."

This weekend the nursing facility where Fine lived evicted him. Williams said, “Someone just dropped him off at my house basically with a few hours’ notice.” Williams said he had been visiting Fine weekly until Covid-19 restrictions and he’s happy to have him.

Williams said, "The other day we took him on a tour of the Jazz museum. He's gassed up. I know all these people. He does. Those were his friends."

Fine said, “Being a Jazz musician. I don’t know why that demands attention, but somehow I think that when we met in Jazz we may have found a new language.”

Brooks had lost touch with Fine but understands that language well. He said with so many greats having already moved on he’s glad people can hear Fine’s stories about the early Jazz days directly.

Fine said, “We can contact people and make them feel that they belong, and we belong.”

Williams is committed to making sure the man he calls Poppa Fine always feels that way. He said, “All the frustrations and difficulties aside I just want to see him enjoy his last years in peace and happiness.”

James Williams and the New Orleans Jazz Museum are working together to secure a permanent living situation for Fine. If you would like to help you can contact the museum.

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