Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bob Dorough (December 12, 1923 ~ April 23, 2018)

If you include the rhythms Bob Dorough beat out on his highchair tray back in Cherry Hill, Arkansas as a toddler, the bebop jazz legend and lifelong hipster composed, arranged and performed music for an extraordinary 10 decades.    
That seems like an awfully long time until you consider that one of the things that makes jazz so special, which is to say so timelessly vibrant, is that its elders never stop playing or giving back, and the youngsters always are eager to learn from them.  
My first face-to-face meeting with Bob was in a booth at a greasy spoon near his home in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, and while we did eventually get around to talking music, the reason for the sitdown was that he had been good friends with a guy about whom I was writing a book.    
The reason I was writing the book was that the guy, a popular bar owner and community do-gooder, had the misfortune of being hacked to death by an ax-wielding madman whom the police had never been particularly interested in finding -- and so didn't.  This is because the guy was . . . well, from the wrong side of the tracks and hung out with low lifes like bikers and hippies and jazz musicians like Bob.  That's how the justice system works in those parts. 
It is a testament to Bob's good naturedness that he maintained the kind of grin that so many sweet eccentrics have through a couple cups of diner joe and some buttered toast although he obviously was uncomfortable discussing this unfortunate slicing and dicing.  
He was a youthful 79 when we first spoke and was wearing his gray hair in a ponytail. Which he always did.   
What I didn't know at the time was that my book -- The Bottom of the Fox: A True Story of Love, Devotion & Cold-Blooded Murder -- would touch him deeply, so deeply that he penned a song with an eponymous title that he debuted at a jazz festival in 2010 and put on one of his zillion albums. 
It is not often that we brush shoulders with greatness, let alone become friends with someone so great, but Bob and his wonderful wife Sally and my love Deborah and I did just that.  
Bob Dorough left this mortal coil on April 23 surrounded by family and friends at his Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania home.  He was 94.
Aralee Dorough, Steve Berger, Pat O'Leary, Bob Dorough 
It was a hallmark of that 10-decade career that many people heard Bob over the years but didn't know it.    
Although he played with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, among other jazz legends, he may hold the world record for uncredited appearances on jazz albums, although he is best unknown as a voice and primary composer of most of the songs in the Schoolhouse Rock! canon.   
In 1971, with jazz money running slow and low, Bob was asked by his boss at the advertising company where he had a day job to set the multiplication tables to music. His boss cited his children's ability to remember rock song lyrics, but not their school lessons.  That, in turn led to Bob's run on the popular ABC series of educational animated shorts appearing on Saturday morning television in the 1970s and 1980s. Among his masterful compositions, which my then young kids and millions of others soaked up with sponge-like enthusiasm, were "My Hero, Zero," "Three Is a Magic Number" and my own fave, "Conjunction Junction."  
Conjunction Junction, what's your function?
Hooking up words and phrases and clauses
In complex sentences like:
"In the mornings, when I am usually wide awake,
I love to take a walk through the gardens and down by the lake,
Where I often see a duck and a drake,
And I wonder as I walk by
Just what they'd say if they could speak,
Although I know that's an absurd thought." 
Opined People magazine in 2016: "Not to unduly shame the American education system, but chances are Bob Dorough has had more of an impact on grammar fluency than any other individual in the 20th century." 
Many jazz fans first heard Bob in 1967.  And of course didn't know it.   
That was because producer Teo Macero never credited him as a piano player on Monk's popular Monk album.   
Gary Giddins also notes in a wonderful Village Voice profile that Bob's is the "high-pitched, nerdy male voice singing a 115-second [uncredited] panegyric, 'Nothing Like You,' backed by winds and bongos" on trumpeter Miles Davis's Sorcerer. 
Bob released his first album, Devil May Care, in 1956.  It contained a version of "Yardbird Suite" with lyrics by Bob over the famous Charlie Parker song.  Davis liked the album, so when Columbia asked him to record a Christmas song in 1962, he turned to Bob for lyrics and singing duties. 
"Bob?  Bob Dorough?  This is Miles, Miles Davis," Bob would croak in recalling the phone call from the trumpet master.  "I want you to write me a Christmas song." 
The result was a downbeat tune called "Blue Xmas, (To Whom It May Concern)" making Bob one of the few musicians with a vocal performance on Miles Davis's 100-plus albums.  
Blue Christmas, that's the way you see it when you're feeling blue
Blue Xmas, when you're blue at Christmastime
you see right through,
All the waste, all the sham, all the haste
and plain old bad taste

Sidewalk Santy Clauses are much, much, much too thin
They're wearing fancy rented costumes, false beards and big fat phony grins
And nearly everybody's standing round holding out their empty hand or tin cup
Gimme gimme gimme gimme, gimme gimme gimme
Fill my stocking up
All the way up
It's a time when the greedy give a dime to the needy
Blue Christmas, all the paper, tinsel and the fal-de-ral
Blue Xmas, people trading gifts that matter not at all
What I call
Bitter gall.......Fal-de-ral
"Devil May Care" probably comes as close to a Bob Dorough signature song as any.  
When the day is through, I suffer no regrets
I know that he who frets, loses the night
For only a fool, thinks he can hold back the dawn
He was wise to never tries to revise what's past and gone
Live love today, love come tomorrow or May
Don't even stop for a sigh, it doesn't help if you cry
That's how I live and I'll die
Devil may care
You can't listen to a jazz radio station for even a day without hearing "Devil May Care," if not sung by Bob himself, then covered by Diane Krall, Jamie Cullum or Davis himself. In all, the song has been recorded by nearly 60 artists and groups.   
While Bob's piano chops were admirable, his nonpareil ability to interpret lyrics was his trademark.  This includes what is known as vocalese, the singing of lyrics written for melodies that were originally instrumental compositions, usually entirely in syllables.  (Think Cab CallowayAl Jarreau and Bob's contemporary and junior by 10 years, Dave Frishberg.) 
Writing about Beginning To See the Light, Bob's 1976 album, Giddins notes: 
"Jazz musicians usually come a cropper when they try to get down with rock tunes; yet Dorough begins with 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right' in a version I prefer to Dylan's.  The rhythm is exactly right, but what locks it down for me is the way he phrases 'Don't think twice, baby, that's all right' -- the last three words emitted in a rapid bullfrog croak."  
Indeed, Bob's voice was something of an acquired taste.   
"Anyone who’s ever taken a singing lesson resents the hell out of Bob Dorough for having the nerve to pass himself off as a vocalist," writes Will Friedwald in Jazz Singing (1990). 
How Bob became a headliner is a story in itself, and one that befits an eccentric.    
Robert Lrod (pronounced Elrod) Dorough was born on Dec. 12, 1923 (the same birth day as vocalists Frank Sinatra and Joe Williams) in Cherry Hill, Arkansas. His father, Robert, was a salesman, and his mother, Alma Lewis Dorough, worked for the Singer sewing machine company. 
Bob studied violin and piano as a child.  His family moved to rural Plainview, Texas, where he played clarinet in the high school band, and he never completely lost his Lone Star twang.   
He majored in band music at Texas Tech University and in 1943 was called up in the draft, but was declared unfit for combat due to a punctured eardrum (ha!) and assigned to a special services band, an experience that fortunately did not dull his enthusiasm for music. 
Bob moved to New York City in 1949. 
He was playing piano in a Times Square tap dance studio when he was introduced to Sugar Ray Robinson, for my money the greatest boxer of all time, who had temporarily left the ring and was putting together a song and dance revue. Bob became the revue's music director and traveled with it throughout the U.S. and Europe.  
"I used to hang out a little bit with Dizz," Bob said of that era and trumpet great Dizzy Gillespie. "That's when I could stay up late." 
Bob left Robinson in Paris and lived there for two years, recording with singer Blossom Dearie, with whom he long collaborated, before moving to Los Angeles where he gigged around, including playing between sets for comedian Lenny Bruce. 
Daughter Aralee was only a few years out of her own highchair when Bob escaped Long Island City, a gritty New York City suburb, for Mount Bethel, a quaint village near Delaware Water Gap, which is even quainter although it does boast a traffic light.  The Gap is home to the Deer Head Inn, the oldest continually running jazz club in the U.S. and a wonderfully organic embodiment of the notion of the older cats sharing their magic with the younguns, who mature into older cats themselves and in turn share with the latest up and comers. 
The biggest reason for Bob's move was so Aralee could start first grade and grow up in a bucolic setting, and this altruistic act was to have unexpectedly wonderful consequences beyond her becoming a great musician in her own right and eventually principal flautist of the world renowned Houston Symphony.    
The Poconos at one time probably had more jazz clubs per capita than anyplace anywhere, a happy consequence of the area's resort industry and one man -- Bob Newman, who had played in Woody Herman's Thundering Herd big band before becoming music director at Mt. Airy Lodge, a gig he held down for most of the 1960s and 70s.    
Newman put together fabulous house bands that would back the biggest stars of the era, many of whom would play Mt. Airy and other big resorts on a Saturday night and then appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City the next night.  Those were the days.  
A musician leaving Mt. Airy to return to New York had to drive by the Deer Head to get to the Portland Bridge and Route 46, the main drag between the Delaware River and the Lincoln Tunnel before Interstate 80 cleaved the heart out of the region, and they would stop in and jam until the cows came home with the immortal John Coates Jr. and other Deer Head regulars.  (It was at pianist Coates's knee that an up and comer by the name of Keith Jarrett cut his jazz teeth.)  
Dorough, who of course played in Newman's house band at Mt. Airy, was one of the first musicians to move to the area from New York, arriving in the early 1960s.    
The trickle was to turn into a flood that included tenor saxophonist Al Cohn, trombonist Urbie Green, piano-vocalist  Frishberg, bassists Steve Gilmore and Russ Savakus, woodwind artist George Young, keyboard player Wolfgang Knittel, and drummers Bud Nealy and Bill Goodwin.  Goodwin played with alto sax great Phil Woods, first lived in the attic of Dorough's house when he moved to the Poconos and eventually lured Woods to the Gap.  
Bob co-wrote "Comin' Home Baby," a Top-40 hit for Mel Tormé in the early 1960s, and produced two albums for Spanky and Our Gang, adding jazz-influenced arrangements to their folky sound.  He acted occasionally and appeared in an episode of the western "Have Gun -- Will Travel" in 1959.   He has influenced a goodly number of musicians, including blues-jazz improviser Mose Alison and singer-songwriter -comedian Nellie McKay. 
Says the congenitally waggish McKay: "Lou Reed's idea of hell would be to sit in heaven with Bob Dorough," referencing the famously cantankerous New York rocker.
Bob's good naturedness was genuine and not a prop that he would put away when he was off stage. 
Munich-based saxophonist and composer-producer Michael Hornstein, who toured in Europe with Bob, remembers meeting him for the first time: 

"I landed at JFK in New York, but Bob was not there waiting for me.  He was, which was typical for a jazz musician of that time, tremendously late.  And he looked completely different than what I had pictured him to look like.  I had expected a stylish hipster in a suit, something like the guys on the covers of the albums I owned.  What I saw instead was a hippie with a pony tail and nearly tattered clothes.  We drove through New York, which wasn’t looking pretty at the time, and New Jersey to his house in Mount Bethel. Bob and his [first] wife Corine (the sister of my godmother) hosted me with generosity and warmth, that I had not experienced before. There was always something happening. Every day Bob and I played together in his living room.  Only in hindsight do I understand how patient he was with me." 
Recalls longtime WBGO announcer Michael Bourne:  
"Bob Dorough was the first jazz singer I enjoyed. I was heavily into Brubeck in the ‘60s, but not yet singers. One of my college housemates owned Bob's Bethlehem album Devil May Care — with Bob looking out from a whirl of orange on the cover. I traded (I can't remember what) for it and I was immediately delighted by it.

"I'd never heard anyone sing "Old Devil Moon" (or any song) like Bob.  Funny. Swinging. I was just learning what the words "hip" and "cool" meant.  Bob was definitively hip. . . . I never imagined back then that I'd ever be playing that scratchy LP on the radio. Or that I'd get to know him. And get to be friends with him."   
Bob called me on a New Years Day a couple years ago to make sure he had our correct mailing address so he could mail us a copy of his then new Live at the Deer Head Inn album, which happened to be recorded on December 12, 2015, his 92nd birthday. (We had missed the CD release party because we were at the Blue Note in New York City for Chick Corea's birthday party; he was only 75.)  
"Who else could turn the number eight into a heart-breaking ballad?" wrote Lindsay Parker at Yahoo! Entertainment in a tribute to Bob's pedagogical gifts.  "Who could turn zero into a hero?  The number seven into a plucky trickster rabbit, the number nine into a pool-hustling tabby cat, and a conjunction into a railroad boxcar traversing a land where train-hopping vagabonds and curious ducks uttered compound sentences?" 
Bob's first marriage, to Jacqueline Wright, ended in divorce.  His second wife, the former Corine Oeser, died in 1986. 
Survivors include his wife of 25 years, the former Sally Shanley; daughter Aralee; two stepsons, Christopher Wolf of Cortez, Colorado, and Peter Wolf of Glastonbury, Connecticut; a brother; and seven grandchildren. 
Bob's last performance was on March 31.  His last performance of perhaps hundreds over the years at the Deer Head was on February 24. 
Steve Berger, who played guitar and had toured the world with Bob since the early 1980s, first heard him play with Bill Takas on April 1, 1979 at Barge Music, a club on what was literally a barge beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.  
"I called him this April 1st to tell him it was our 39th anniversary. He said "It is????!!!!' As enthusiastic as always. 
"He was my best friend.  Father.  Teacher.  Boss. . . . I only saw him get a little unhappy with me once.  If he did get angry, he would turn it into understanding and love.  
"Thirty-five years later.  Trips together around the world later.  Many hundreds of gigs, festivals and thousands of hours of rehearsal, music lessons and hanging later, I say, 'Thanks, Bob. I'll see you in a minute.' " 
To which Berger added:
"There was this really cool guy two thousand years ago that a few people followed.  A whole bunch of people have been waiting for him to come back, but they missed it.  Bob was it."   
Bob Dorough was not wont to ruminate on his age. 
"Everybody knows that I'm old," he said not long ago before launching into an especially introspective cover of "September Song." 
"I guess I'm a little past September," Bob said after the song. "Late October, November maybe.  When I reach my December, I'll keep on keeping on." 
Borrowing a line from the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends," Bob once said that his goal in life was "to sing you a song and have you not walk out on me."  In that our huckleberry friend succeeded extraordinarily well, touching so many lives with his joy and good cheer. 
 Bob Dorough with Deborah Olson, Your Faithful Scribe and Rick Chamberlain

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Trump Denies The Infamous Pee Tape Exists, So Why Did He Keep Bringing It Up?

One of the enduring mysteries of the Russia scandal is what happened -- or did not happen -- in the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow on November 8 and 9, 2013.  Was Donald Trump, the future U.S. president, secretly videotaped cavorting with urinating prostitutes by the FSB, the Russian security service, to use for blackmail as is explosively claimed in the Steele dossier?  Or were his activities that weekend more mundane?  It might not particularly matter at this late date had not Trump himself been so obsessed with a salacious incident he claims did not happen.  
Trump had flown from North Carolina to New York on the evening of Thursday November 7, 2013 and then on to Moscow on the private jet of casino owner Phil Ruffin.  He arrived early on the morning of Friday, November 8 and checked into the Ritz-Carlton's presidential suite where Barack and Michelle Obama had stayed four years earlier.  He overnighted at the Ritz-Carlton, was in the Russian capital all day on Saturday, November 9, attended the Miss Universe Pageant that night and departed for New York early on Sunday, November 10, on a Ruffin jet.   
This sequence of events -- including the overnighter -- is beyond dispute because of an extensive examination of FAA records, social media postings and interviews compiled and authenticated by Bloomberg News.  But Trump's account of the weekend differs even in this fundamental respect, and underlying his insistence that the incident with the peeing prostitutes could not have occurred is his claim that he did not spend the night in Moscow despite Bloomberg's investigation and testimony by Keith Schiller, his longtime bodyguard, that he did. 
The president's ability to lie about anything anytime is well known, which of course casts doubt on his entire recollection of the weekend, but what is beyond dispute is that he was in Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant and a long-sought meeting with his hero, Russian President Vladimir Putin.  
Trump had purchased the pageant 17 years earlier, partnering with NBC, which aired his reality TV hit "The Apprentice" from 2004 to 2015. 
The pageant was one of Trump's most prized properties, bringing in millions of dollars a year in revenue and burnishing his image as an international playboy, but it was an open secret that Trump's real agenda in Moscow was not the show but his desire to do business there.  He had spent decades unsuccessfully trying to develop high-end projects in Moscow, and to succeed in doing business there he wanted Putin's seal of approval.  
Aras Agalarov (on the left in the photo above), a billionaire oligarch close to Putin, was Trump's partner in the pageant, which would be televised around the world from Agalarov's Crocus City Hall, a gaudy 7,000-seat theater.  Because of Agalarov's Kremlin ties, he also could cut through a lot of red tape for Trump so he finally could realize his dream of building a Trump Tower Moscow.
Trump had met Agalarov and his pop star son Emin the previous June in Las Vegas when he hosted the Miss USA Pageant.  
After the pageant, they dined at CUT, a restaurant located at the Palazzo hotel and casino.  Also attending were Rob Goldstone, Emin's British publicist who was to set up the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting where a Russian lawyer doing the Kremlin's bidding promised "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, and Michael Cohen, Trump's now notorious personal lawyer and fixer. 
After the dinner, Trump, Emin, Goldstone and two other people decamped to a nightclub in the Palazzo complex called The Act.  The management of the raunchy nightclub had heard that Trump might be there and discussed whether they should prepare a special performance for Trump, perhaps a dominatrix who would tie him up onstage or transvestite Trump impersonator.  The idea was nixed. 
Among the club's regular acts was one in which naked college girls simulate urinating on a professor and another in which two women disrobe and one stands over the other and simulates urinating into two wine glasses held by the other, an act strikingly similar to that said to be on the so-called Pee Tape. 
Shortly after Trump's arrival in Moscow, Agalarov delivered a message stating that "Mr. Putin would like to meet Mr. Trump."   
Trump thought there was even a chance the Russian leader would attend the pageant.  It would be the flowering of their bromance, but as the weekend wore on, he heard nothing else and the meeting never occurred because of what the Kremlin later said was a scheduling conflict. 
Schiller, who also has served as a go-between for Trump's liaisons with Stormy Daniels and other women with whom he has had affairs, would later tell congressional investigators that a Russian approached Trump's party after a brief meeting with Miss Universe executives and the Agalarovs on the morning of November 8 with an offer: The Russian wanted to send five women to Trump's hotel room that night.  Schiller said he didn’t take the offer seriously and told the Russian, "We don’t do that type of stuff." 
At about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, November 9, Trump left a party to celebrate Agalarov's 58th birthday and headed to the Ritz-Carlton.  According to Schiller, on the way to the hotel he told Trump about the earlier offer of women, and he said he and Trump laughed about it.  According to Schiller's account, after Trump was in his room, he stood guard outside for a while and then left to go to bed, but perhaps significantly could not say what happened during the rest of the night.
The Steele dossier purports to tell what did happen. 
In the first of the 20 confidential memos that Steele, a former British MI6 spy provided to Fusion GPS that make up his dossier, he concluded based on his sources that Moscow had been "cultivating, supporting and assisting" Trump for years, has information on him, including the Pee Tape, that could be used as kompromat (compromising material) in blackmailing him. 
Trump and his inner circle, writes Steele, "have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals" based on compromising material on Clinton collated by Russian intelligence services over many years.  
Steele writes that a source who was present in the presidential suite says that Trump employed "a number of prostitutes to perform a 'golden showers' (urination) show in front of him" as a way of defiling the bed in which Barack and Michelle Obama had stayed.  The source told Steele that hotel employees had corroborated the incident. 
When David Corn of Mother Jones magazine broke the story of the dossier on October 31, 2016, three days after FBI Director James Comey's stunning announcement that the FBI's Clinton email investigation had been reopened and eight days before Trump's victory, he did not identify Steele by name and the story was little noticed in the avalanche of election news.  When on January 10, 2017, BuzzFeed News published a story on the dossier and a redacted version of it, the ensuing media frenzy focused on the Pee Tape allegation and little else. 
On January 6, 2017, Comey, accompanied by NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, briefed President-elect Trump at a meeting at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, telling him that their agencies had concluded that the Russian government mounted a massive covert campaign to disrupt the election and elect him president.   After the others left the room, Comey briefed Trump on the contents of the Steele dossier, including the Pee Tape allegation. 
Comey, in a memo he wrote in his limousine immediately after the meeting, said Trump erupted over the Pee Tape allegation: "He interjected, 'there were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes.' He then said something about him being the kind of guy who didn't need to 'go there' and laughed (which I understood to be communicating that he didn't need to pay for sex)."   
A redacted and declassified 15-page version of that memo and six subsequent memos written by Comey after meetings and conversations with Trump because of his concern that the president would later try to distort what they had discussed, were released by the Justice Department on April 19.   The memos are significant because of Trump's repeated efforts to get Comey to drop the Russia investigation, as well as his preoccupation with and categorical denials about the Pee Tape allegation.  
On January 11, in a follow-up phone conversation to the Trump Tower meeting, Comey wrote that unsolicited the president-elect said "I'm a germaphobe.  There's no way I would let people pee on each other around me.  No way."   He then asked what could be done to "lift the cloud" because the allegation was so painful for First Lady Melania Trump.
On January 28, Comey met again with now-President Trump at a private White House dinner.  Again unsolicited, Trump brought up the Pee Tape allegation and again was adamant that he had not spent the night in Moscow.  Comey wrote that "He says he may want me to investigate it to prove that it didn't happen."   
During a February 8 meeting in the Oval Office, Comey wrote that Trump -- again unsolicited -- repeated the claim that he had not overnighted, again brought up "the hooker thing," and curiously noted that Putin had told him "we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world," but did not say when Putin -- whom the public record indicates Trump did not meet face-to-face until July 7, 2017 at a G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany -- had told him that. 
Trump brought up the tape yet again -- and yet again unsolicited -- during a March 30 phone conversation.  Comey wrote that Trump was concerned that the "golden showers thing" would cast a "cloud" over his presidency, insisted the claim wasn't true, and asked, "Can you imagine me, hookers?"
The very right-wingers who demanded that the Comey memos be released because they would prove he had leaked classified information now realize their demand -- a hit job engineered by the despicable Trey Gowdy, Bob Goodlatte and Devin Nunes -- has backfired because of Comey's devastating portrayals of Trump as a corrupt and deeply paranoid narcissist. 
Still, they not only don't believe the Pee Tape exists, they believe Comey used it as a trap. 
Under this scenario, Trump was an innocent family business operator naïve to the ways of Washington, let alone Moscow, who was accosted by a scheming deep state operator who sprang the dossier and Pee Tape allegation on him four days before the BuzzFeed story so he could later leak Trump's reaction to the news media.  There is no record that happened.  
Comey has been agnostic on the matter of the Pee Tape during his current tour to promote his Trump memwow, A Higher Loyalty. 
"I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth," he says, "but I don't know whether the current President of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013.  It's possible, but I don’t know." 
The Pee Tape scenario bordered on the implausible for me and perhaps many other people 18 months ago.  But today we are abundantly aware of Trump's innumerable affairs.  Never mind that Melania was caring for an infant while he was pursuing Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, whom he bedded in Trump Tower.  Or that he had been married to Melania for five years when he journeyed to Moscow.  His sexual appetites are now well known.  Nothing should surprise us, including consorting with peeing prostitutes provided by Putin's FSB for the purpose of kompromat. 
Yet even if the Pee Tape is real and is released, the result would be briefly titillating and then predictably depressing as Trump would step up his denials, claims would be made that the tape was doctored, and the Democrats and Clinton would be blamed.  
If the Pee Tape does exist, and Trump's repeated, unsolicited and defensive comments suggest that he might have consorted with prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton that night, why hasn't the tape been released? 
That's easy.  Because the tape is much more valuable to Putin as an existential threat to Trump sitting in a Kremlin closet than it is in the harsh light of day so long as the president continues to offer fawning obeisance. 
This he has shown every sign of doing, most recently in undermining U.N. Ambassador Nicky Haley and his national security team is sandbagging an agreed-upon plan to impose new economic sanctions because of Russia's support of  Syria after its latest chemical weapon attack.   

This post is based in part on Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's
War on America (Michael Isikoff and David Corn, 2018)

Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related events.