Music: Salady Days

Between numbers, in a Los Angeles cafe called Omar's Dome, a Negro pianist mused over his keyboard. A phrase had strayed into his mind, and he was trying to fit a melody to it. Suddenly, "it came to me just as straight as could be." Pianist Harvey O. Brooks hummed his tune all the way home, wrote it out in 20 minutes. Then he put it away in a drawer.

Harvey was in no hurry to hawk his song; in 20 years he had written "boxes full of songs." He knew the music business inside & out. In his teens he had...

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