When I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area back in 2002, it took me a little while to get on my feet. I started taking my horn around town and getting to know the scene, and quickly met Bishop Norman Williams and B.J.Papa. I remember seeing the both of them at Les Joulin and CafĂ© Prague, and I sat in with them at Rasselas down on Fillmore, and again at the Washington Square Bar and Grill. B.J. was always really encouraging and nice to me, his playing authoritatively eccentric. In October of 2003, one of the last times I saw him, he stood up for me and comforted me when I was in a really tough situation. After being told to “get up there and be a female musician” on a gig where the bandleader introduced the band by joking with the audience of about the quality of female players, I was humiliated and upset. As a new player in the area, the situation was doubly hard to take – because the audience was primarily the top players in the Bay Area scene, gathering for an informal birthday celebration. I walked off the bandstand, and saw B.J., who calmed me down, and made me feel better about my decision to stand up to the bandleader and refuse to be treated in that manner. It meant so much to me, and I am sorry I never really had a chance to tell him thank you.
Sarah Manning
Alto Saxophonist/Composer

Here are a few photos from the memorial service last night. The second line was a hit and the neighborhood had a moment to pay respects to a man that epitomized jazz and North Beach....Scott

Hi, I am a Brit who loves jazz and guitar. I first met BJ at Le Joulin Restaurant in August 2001.

It was a special time for us, in San Francisco for our daughter and son in law and awaiting the birth of our first grandchild. Things were slow, so I had gone out alone to look for some jazz.

I liked their jazz, bought the BJ’s World CD, and settled down to listen. At the interval I got talking with BJ. He is such a friendly guy, that the evening didn’t end before we had plans to meet again at their next gig and I had invited him to stay with us when he visited UK on a holiday that he and Mary Helene had planned that autumn. That was the beginning of an adventure in friendship that has spanned those years. It somehow seemed appropriate to me when Sophia was born a few days later, on 29th August – Charlie Parker’s birthday!

The chaos and fear generated just a week or so later on September 11th 2001, caused BJ and Mary Helene to delay their European holiday until 2002. So we were delighted when they came, and agreed to stay with us; friendship needs courage to accept it is real, and worthwhile to make it happen. Their visit to us influenced my friendship towards others, and so I shall always be grateful for BJ’s “Yes” to us.

Who has played with BJ? I am proud to say I have even though it was only one time! Also the following Brits from the local jazz scene a few miles north of London all have. This was at a jazz party in my home in October 2002: Brian Benton - tenor sax, George Howe – alto sax, Eric Darlow – trombone, Doug Start - bass (also sadly deceased this year), and me on guitar. We enjoyed BJ leading us through his favourites in the Real Book. He was a great encouragement, and we played a lot before and after the party. Meanwhile the ladies talked for the nation, and friendship flourished.

It was a great visit in which we discovered so much about each others’ views of life politics and the world at large - and jazz!

It is a pleasure and a privilege to have had BJ as a friend, a joy to know how much he has encouraged so many musicians.

It has been comforting to read so many warm tributes to BJ, and add mid to them. I attach a photo of him playing as I met him, at Le Joulin Restaurant with Bishop Norman Williams, and Jean Repetto.