I met BJ Papa when I was playing in a jazz quintet on Mission Street at a place called Cafe Nidal. Shortly afterwards, he introduced himself and said he has a group, and wanted to know if I would be interested in playing with him sometime. I said I would and he pulled me aside, saying "You need to be playing with a better band". I agreed, knowing exactly what he meant, and wanting to further my experience playing with other jazz musicians. He then invited me to see him play with his band, "BJ Papa Express" at the "Tropical- Haight". I went and afterwards, he asked me if I wanted to play with him, I said yes, and in a couple of weeks, I was playing with BJ at the Tropical-Haight. I was upset when BJ looked at me and asked me if I had some money to buy an extension cord across the street at Walgreens. Then he said to me, "Well we got to do something 'cause the gig starts in 15 minutes". We got the extension cord, and later I was embarrassed for being upset. I learned a good lesson in patience and being tolerant from BJ.During that time, he invited me to come over and run through some tunes, since I lived close by, and this "great young singer with lots of potential" was coming over. I had a ball playing with BJ and Kim Nalley and learning new tunes and playing with a singer who could 'scat' like a horn player! BJ was always saying to me, "I have a good feeling about Kim".BJ was often a weekly visitor at a the Schooner jam-session hosted by Vince Wallace from 1992 - about 1997. BJ always had a good attitude and the music was always at the top of his list, and would keep me updated on his musical projects. I gave him lots of rides home and got to know him a bit, that he was a medic in the army, he also liked Soul & R&B music from the 70's, especially Marvin Gaye. He said the world and the music was positive and better things were happening for all people. He was right about a lot of things. We became closer when he asked me if I played sports when I was a kid, I said I played 2nd base (baseball), he said he also played 2nd base, and really liked baseball. I believe he said, in Oakland, he knew Jason Kidd when he was an up-and-coming basketball player. This was before Kidd was drafted into the NBA.Every year he had a birthday party, either at his house or at a friends house, where there was usually a jam-session, lots of food and drink, and a friendly atmosphere. I'll miss his phone calls inviting us to his birthday parties, and his homemade chili, always having 2 kinds: "meat & vegetarian".I'll miss the infamous "BJ neck-rub" and his "squeeze-hug", as he'd sneak up from behind like a cornerback, I'd know it was BJ. Thanks to you BJ I've become more of a human-being. Im gonna miss you BJ.
Scott Chapek