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MMD > Archives > November 1999 > 1999.11.25 > 03Prev  Next

Max Kortlander Biography
By John Farrell

Le Roy Barnett might like to get in touch with Willard (Bill) Burkhardt
of Grand Rapids MI, who owns an impressive stack of paper artifacts
relating to the QRS company under the stewardship of Max Kortlander.

During his latter years Kortlander lived in Grand Rapids.  When he died
Bill came into possession of several sacks full of documentary material
from Max's house which were about to be transported to the city dump;
according to Bill some had already gone before he could rescue them.
On one of my visits, in the illustrious company of Ed Sprankle and Mike
Montgomery, Bill gave us unlimited access to a huge pile of material --
letters, photographs, contracts etc. -- from Kortlander's personal files
(apparently he never threw anything away).

It would have taken weeks to sift through it all.  As it was, the three
of us sat there entranced with the things we found -- not only business
letters but others of a private and personal nature -- knowing that in
the time available to us we did not have the remotest chance of seeing
more than a fraction of the collection.  I have a particular interest
in the piano rolls QRS released under the name of Fats Waller and
J. Lawrence Cook's involvement in their production: one of the things
I found in one of the sacks was a handwritten letter from Cook confirm-
ing his crucial role in the manufacture of these rolls.  Bill kindly
copied it for me.

Bryan Cather made reference to a videotape featuring Max Kortlander
(J. Lawrence Cook also took a major part in the program).  Just before
we fell upon their stock of single malt whisky Bob and Ginny Billings
played the tape for Ed Sprankle and me, all of us were struck by the
deferential, almost Uncle Tom-ish attitude Cook displayed toward
Kortlander.  Quite properly Bryan also mentioned Bob and Ginny's
meticulously researched QRS Rollography.  If you do not already own
a copy I urge you to get one: it is an essential component of any roll
collector's library and is available from <>.

Bill Burkhardt is not on line, but his home address is:

  Willard Burkhardt,
  2133 Osceola Dr. S.E.,
  Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

John Farrell

(Message sent Thu 25 Nov 1999, 12:58:59 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Biography, Kortlander, Max

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