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Wiman’s office to be told that Mr. Wiman had gone unexpectedly to the Middle West. So we turned around and came back to Rochester. Much later we found out that Mr. Wiman’s assistant had planned to listen to us, but obviously the news had not reached the receptionist. Okay, ask me! Why didn’t we go back? Why weren’t new appointments made through Leopold Mannes’s good offices? I haven’t the faintest notion, nor have I ever been able to figure out any reasonable explanation. I don’t think I’m a masochist and, although I did have enough money at that time, I can’t believe I wouldn’t have been happy to get a little acceptance.
The recordings of the Alec Wilder Octet attracted a fair amount of attention starting in 1939, even if listeners were unsure what to make of them. ”13 In the words of the Gramophone reviewer, Already I see the rotten eggs and tomatoes hurtling across the footlights. The biggest are coming from the swing fans. That’s not surprising. Whenever jazz tries to extend its scope they make a rush for the flag of conservatism. In a way I don’t blame them. Once bitten twice shy. But there’s no need to carry the flag to the extreme that leads only to that rather quaint sect which refuses to consider anything new until it has become old.
25 The trend especially flourished in 1939, in swing versions by the Raymond Scott Quintette of the first movement of Mozart’s C major piano sonata, K. ” Wilder remembers making swing arrangements of Bach’s Little G Minor Fugue (which “kept every note but had everyone play dance style”), Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante defunte,” Debussy’s “Golliwogg’s Cake-Walk,” and Kreisler’s “Tambourine Chinois” for the CBS radio show (The Search, 90; Life Story, 72; Letters I Never Mailed, 103). These efforts only enhanced his reputation for oddity and iconoclasm; they drew a “flood of perplexed letters” and “made the players very happy but elicited black frowns from the men handling the advertising account” (Letters I Never Mailed, 103).