Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Claire P. Gordon, Author Of 'My Unforgettable Jazz Friends', Discovers Long Lost Cousins Who Are Jazz Musicians

Claire P. Gordon was Duke Ellington’s secretary when she was in her 20’s. She is the author of several books about jazz and a new novel, 'The Color of Music'. In a strange coincidence, her own life has followed part of the story line of 'The Color Of Music'

Claire P. Gordon is Duke Ellington's former secretary and the author of a number of very successful nonfiction books about jazz. She is also the author of a fiction novel, 'The Color of Music'. In 'The Color Of Music', identical twins are separated at birth. The children are the identical boy twins of a couple – the father a famous black jazz pianist and the mother, his blonde girl friend. The father dies, the mother is alone when the twins are born, and she is unable to keep them. One boy is raised by a French couple, who didn’t know that his father was black, and the other is adopted by a black American couple who know only the father's race. Eventually the twins are reunited and it is discovered both have a talent for jazz music. Now, in a surprising sequence of events, Ms. Gordon's own life has taken a coincidental turn. She recently made an amazing discovery.

Claire Gordon hoped to find some trace of her grandmother, Emma, who died years before she was born . She joined the National Geographic's large pool. For years she combed continuing lists of "cousins," people with similar DNA, but the odd German family name of Himmelschein never appeared. Her step-daughter Robbie offered to search geneology. Robbie would never have found the family because the family name had become lost a few generations back, but luckily she ran into someone else also researching the family name. And that person, married to a relation of the brothers, led her to the cousins and it was there found Claire's grandmother's brothers and their descendants. Claire 's cousins in northern California were now named Weidkamp. Amazingly, Claire found the brothers were jazz musicians.

"When we found descendants of Grandma's family," states Ms. Gordon, "I couldn't get over the amazing coincidence that they were jazz people."

The cousins met when Claire Gordon went to San Francisco for a wedding. She joined cousin Noel and his wife Andrea in Napa where Noel played his horn and sang in the Devil Mountain Combo's gig .There, brother Keith Weidkamp and wife Linda joined them . Both brothers had been playing jazz for many years. Keith formed his own jazz band as a teen ager and brother Noel, playing professional cornet from age 14, still plays both jazz and classical cornet.

'The Color Of Music' is Ms. Gordon's first novel. It was nominated for a 2010 Global eBook Award in the Entertainment and Performing Arts (Music/Dance/Film) Fiction category. Her previous books about jazz are 'Boy Meets Horn, the Autobiography of Rex Stewart', 'Marshal Royal, Jazz Survivor' and 'My Unforgettable Jazz Friends'.

"This new novel," stated Ms. Gordon, "has been rolling around in my head for many years. The French couple raise one twin as their own white child in Quebec, Canada. The other grows up with black parents in South Central Los Angeles. There are twists and turns and cliff-hangers in every chapter."

Claire Gordon brings a unique and very personal perspective to this story, as she was the secretary for Duke Ellington. A Caucasian, she served in this role during a time when race and color were not issues to be politely debated or discussed. Segregation was a hard cold fact of everyday life. She observed discrimination against these world class musicians, allowing her to bring a perspective to 'The Color Of Music' that very few people could manage.

Ms. Gordon has recently been interviewed numerous times on both television and radio. She is available for media interviews and can be contacted using the information below or by email at'The Color Of Music' is available at her website at www.TheColorOf and from 'The Color Of Music' is available in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Claire P Gordon
The Color Of Music
ISBN 978-0-9749814-0-6


Claire P. Gordon was born in Los Angeles, California. The subject of twins always intrigued her because she was raised with a cousin her age, creating the concept and inner feeling of being a twin.

Claire skipped through school, graduating from LA High when she was sixteen. She enrolled at UCLA and then transferred to Berkeley, Her first love was music and specifically jazz music. Through being in the right place and the right time and strokes of luck, she became acquainted with Nat King Cole as well as the famous band leader Duke Ellington. A few years later this was the stepping stone to becoming Duke's first and probably only secretary.

While working there, she met the young songwriter, Irving Gordon. They began seeing each other and after a year, they married. Irving’s career flourished as he turned out many songs. One that he placed with a publisher was a disappointment because the company had been unable to get anyone to record the song. When Claire heard this, she dialed Nat Cole's number. Her old friend had become a big celebrity but not too big to remember his long-time fans. Nat King Cole looked at the sheet music, played the notes and sang the words. “I’ll record this for you, Claire,” he said. Thus was born one of his biggest hits, 'Unforgettable'.

Claire Gordon is the author of 'Boy Meets Horn, the Autobiography of Rex Stewart', 'Marshal Royal, Jazz Survivor', her own memoir entitled 'My Unforgettable Jazz Friends' and finally a fictional novel entitled 'The Color Of Music'.


Claire P. Gordon
PO Box 526
Pismo Beach, Ca 93448