The Letter

Vancouver, March 20, 1996

Dear Basil,

Met someone at the conservatory last week who claimed to know Miguel. He sent me some information the next day by courier. I'm sending the photographs separately, but, though I haven't been able to check his sources, here's the text as he sent it:

Documents just recovered after the lifting of the state of seige around Sarajevo provide new clues about the formerly mysterious early years of Miguel Siglo. Manuscripts of juvenile piano compositions, notebooks, programs from classical musical concerts, concert ticket stubs, have been found in the attic of one of the last Jewish residents of the nearly destroyed city. Siglo is finally identified as the member of a Sephardic family resident in the Sarajevo area since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.

Among the recovered works in the Siglo family's effects is a closely annotated copy of the monograph "Chansons Judeo-Espagnols: 1200-1650", by Haim Vidal Sephiha, Siglo's much older half brother. Sephiha's book was accepted as a dissertation at the Sorbonne in the early 1930's, and was the first to document the influences of Moorish and Arabic poetry and music on the Jewish culture of Central-Eastern Europe. The annotated book is inscribed to Miguel, from the author.

Previously nothing was known of Siglo's childhood, till his enrollment at the Vienna Conservatory in 1937. No records exist of his war time years, nothing definite until 1949, when Siglo surfaces as a bandleader and arranger at the Tropicana nightclub in Havana, Cuba. Siglo is rumoured to have been associated with the notorious Goebbels Gang, a jazz orchestra composed of Jewish, black and other non-Aryan musicians employed by the Nazi propaganda ministry to broadcast 'degenerate' music to Allied troops. Eddie Rickenbacker, leader of the Goebbels Gang between 1943-44 recalls a sensational young pianist who went by the name Michael Sokolov, or sometimes, Socolo. Sokolov was once recorded playing an unusually spicy blend of Arabic and Morrocan tinged jazz, though the music is barely audible over the sound of air raid sirens and bomb explosions."

So that's the story so far. We should have guessed that there was something special about our Miguel. More when I find it. Hope the customers are keeping you happy.

Much Love,