The ghosts are jamming again. They're playing that hot jazz in the Turkish Embassy's old Sheridan Circle mansion, just as they did in the 1930s and '40s, when the ambassador's boys, Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, were always inviting their favorite musicians over to hang and blow and thump. The informal, integrated gatherings achieved near-mythic status - "Washington's most famous private jam sessions," jazz journalist Bill Gottlieb called them in The Washington Post in 1943 - and then they evaporated into history.
"So many people don't know about it," said Namik Tan, Turkey's current ambassador. He's in the mansion's second-floor music parlor, envisioning Lester Young sitting in the wood-paneled room, coaxing those light, airy notes out of his tenor saxophone. Or maybe it's Benny Carter, making his alto sax sing. And aren't those the cats from Duke Ellington's band - Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Barney Bigard - on deck to play?