The business professor and the jazz musician

There’s an ongoing argument about where the arts fit into today’s society, so I’m always thrilled to see the arts cropping up in unexpected places.

And unexpected is definitely the word I’d use to describe my colleague George Vlahakis’ recent story about the longtime relationship between jazz cornetist Reuben “Ruby” Braff and Thomas P. Hustad, professor emeritus of marketing and past chairperson of the MBA program at IU’s Kelley School of Business.

“Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances,” by Thomas P. Hustad.

My favorite detail? While Hustad is one of the world’s leading experts on marketing production, his personal collection includes some recordings that are otherwise found only in the Institute of Jazz Studies and the Library of Congress.

The professor met the musician at a Toronto club in 1973, sparking a friendship that culminated with the recent publication of Hustad’s 700-page book: “Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances.”

Braff, who died in 2003, was a member of an all-star band with George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival. He worked with major bandleaders such as Buck Clayton, Benny Goodman and Bud Freeman as a young man. Drumming legend Buddy Rich declared that Braff was “one of my favorite trumpeters.” Tony Bennett described him as “my great friend who now holds the reigning position of the best cornet player in the world.” John Hammond, best known for launching the careers of Billie Holliday and Count Basie, produced his early recordings.

While George has promised to share some of Ruby’s rarer recordings, I’ve included a link to one of Ruby’s performances that I couldn’t help but listen to after seeing the title: “When My Sugar Walks Down the Street.” Enjoy!

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