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The Black Hawk, San Francisco March 1963 signed book page

Unique, one of a kind, original signed book page by trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Harold Mabern. These autographs were obtained at the Black Hawk in San Francisco in March 1963. Miles had been booked for two weeks at the Black Hawk, 5th—17th March (Tuesday-Sunday), but the opening was delayed for a week while he recruited some West Coast players. In addition to drummer Jimmy Cobb, he ended up with Frank Strozier on alto, George Coleman on tenor, Harold Mabern on piano, and Ron Carter on bass (at the time Carter was playing with Art Farmer). It was painter Richard “Prophet” Jennings who recommended Mabern to Davis. “He thought I could play for Miles because I wouldn’t be obtrusive,” Mabern remembers. “No matter what I did, I wouldn’t get in his way.” Mabern flew out to San Francisco for what he calls a beautiful extended stay with Davis at the Black Hawk club. “Everybody was saying Miles is not going to be happy, blah blah blah,” he says. “He came to work every night and was there before the gig. Me, George Coleman, Frank Strozier, Ron Carter and Jimmy Cobb, we had a wonderful six weeks, man.”

The autographs were obtained by a young German girl, who remembers: “I was 20 years old and came to San Francisco from Germany as an aupair girl and to visit an American College. During a free afternoon I met with another German girl to go to the famous City Light Bookstore where I bougth this French poetry book. While we were walking around later on we happend to hear the two musicians during a rehearsal from the street. We were so fascinated by the music that we sneaked into the club.There was no one inside besides the two musicians, one playing the piano and the other the trumpet. So we sat down at a table near the entrance and listened to these great musicians until they paused. Then they came to our table, drinking beer and talking to us for quite some time, they asked us where we came from etc. and invited us to come again in the evening around 11 pm when the club would be full of people. Unfortunately we had to return to our American families and were not allowed to go out at night. Without knowing how well known they were, we asked them to give us autographs. It was such a  beautiful and exciting experience.”

For what it’s worth, the book in question is “Toi et Moi” by Paul Géraldy. The wrappers have been removed and the autographs are on the last free end page.  


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