Kenny Dorham’s soft, energetic, be-bop style and confident, smooth lyrical playing has influenced countless musicians. One of the great trumpet pioneers of the bebop era, Kenny had the misfortune to play beneath the shadows cast by Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown and Miles Davis. He worked with most of the giants of the music in the ’40s and ’50s, and continued to lead his own groups through the 60s. Many of his compositions have become jazz standards (Blue Bossa, Prince Albert, Lotus Blossom, Una Mas, Whistle Stop). Its believed, but not substantiated he used to “ghost” many of his charts, which were published under the name of Walter “Gil” Fuller. There was another Gil Fuller who wrote and arrange for big band leaders including Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles,Billy Eckstine and many others. ( please check out Fuller Bop Man by Fuller)
Kenny was born into a musical family on August 30th, 1924 in Fairfield, Texas. At age 7, he began piano lessons, switching to trumpet while attending high school in Austin. His debut on the trumpet was with a dance band at Wiley College, where he studied pharmacy.
In 1942, he joined the army, becoming a member of their boxing team and in 1943, began working with trumpeter, Russell Jacquet, “Illinois” Jacquet’s older brother. He later moved to New York City, playing and singing with Dizzy Gillespie’s band, as well as other groups, including Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, and Mercer Ellington. He earned the nickname “Quiet Kenny” due to his quiet, subdued sound, replacing Miles Davis in Charlie Parker’s group from 1948 to 1950.
In the early 50s, Kenny began playing in New York City, recording with Thelonious Monk in ’52, and became a founding member of the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey and Horace Silver. He later replaced Clifford Brown in the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet when Clifford was killed in an automobile accident. Dorham would occasionally lead his own groups, giving early exposure to such younger men as Bobby Timmons, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Charles Davis, Kenny Burrell, Butch Warren and Tony Williams.
He was very active in the late 50s and 60s, teaching at Lennox School of Jazz, leading and touring with his own groups, co-leading groups with Joe Henderson and Hank Mobley, and recording with Barry Harris, Cedar Walton, Jackie McLean, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, and Sonny Rollins. During that time, Kenny recorded an impressive series of LP’s under his own name for Blue Note. His best recordings include Whistle Stop and Una Mas for Blue Note and Jazz Contemporary for Time. He was also a thoughtful reviewer for Downbeat Magazine, and attended college at NYU School of Music, teaching at the school before he died of kidney failure on December 5th, 1972.
What would an installment of the Chicago Jazz Festival be without a Freeman family reunion? But September 4th’s performance by saxophonist Chico and his guitarist uncle George will offer, in the parlance of Monty Python, something completely different. Performing music from their new Southport Records album, All in the Family, their all-star band will offer what Chico called a “panorama” of Chicago musical styles – one that will capture both the sounds the city is known for internationally (he has lived for two years in Switzerland) and some distant listener might not associate with the home of tough tenors. THE CHICAGO PROJECT featuring George Freeman
And so we can expect a parcel of Chico’s brawny tenor and George’s keening bebop guitar, as well as free improvisations with AACM etched in their DNA. We can expect a sampling of the Latin fusion Chico has long specialized in and the ’70s soul jazz for which the one-of-a-kind George is celebrated. And then there is “Vonski,” George’s tribute to tenor legend Von Freeman, his departed brother and Chico’s father, a duet that is one of the album’s highlights.
At 88 more of a cult figure than ever, he has lost none of his zing or zang as a soloist, or his ability to come up with effects you simply haven’t heard before. He’s a walking repository of sounds, dating back to his playing days with Lester Young and Charlie Parker. On tenor and soprano, Chico has an excitable presence. The Freemans will be joined by longtime collaborators: Mike Allemana, Von’s longtime guitarist, pianist Kirk Brown, bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Ernie Adams, plus Swiss percussionist Reto Weber, who plays the hang, a steel-drum-like instrument of his own devise.
posted by @blues2jazzguy concert photos only by Jerone Myles
One of the best feeling in the world is when you plan,execute and get back a return on your effort in double spades..No, I’m not playing cards, even though I am using a card game metaphor. On August 22,last saturday night, a group of master musicians, two vocalists! and a poet came together in a show entitled,The Genius and Music of DUKE PEARSON: Thank You Uncle Duke
Working with Jon Williams to secure the World Stage with our idea to honor a man, most deserving equally,as the man who founded the world Stage, Billy Higgins. Higgins was one of the most recorded drummer in jazz history. Pearson had his hands on many of the classic albums ever produced by Blue Note Records, many of which was backed by Billy Higgins on drums,
The evening’s program kicked off with producer/host, Robert J. Carmack introducing the band,The Uncle Duke Legacy Band,which featured the piano stylings of Jazz veteran pianist, Bobby West. Before the music began,Carmack presented a letter from the Duke Pearson family. Which in short thanked the The World Stage,and their staff, Jon Williams and Sister Renee for their efforts. Also, Robert J. Carmack and all the Band members and vocalists participating. They also invited the the audience and fans alike to visit and join the Duke Pearson Tribute page on Facebook. The letter was signed by Mr. Gerald R. Ford( no relations) the nephew, Greetings and thanks from his mother and Duke’s sister,Myrtle(81)last survivor of Pearson’s direct family members.
Several choice Pearson compositions were played by the Band, including two non-Pearson tunes but were either recorded by or worked with the production and arrangements. First set jumped off without a hitch with Jeannine ,using a version arranged by Cannonball Adderley’s band . This classic allowed the band to show out and up with Bobby West taking the lead line on piano with Derf Reklaw Flute in harmonic tag-along, driven by the bass and drum duo of Ishmael hunter and Reggie Carson. West was able to really stretch out and flex his well honed skills to task on a blistering solo, followed by Derf Reklaw “take no prisoners” balancing between Flute lines and accents on Congos & bongo. In an effort to give balance and unique presentation , we added voices on certain songs , such a rich vocal arrangement of UGETSU/Fantasy in D, sung by the mother, daughter team of Pat Sligh and Jana Wilson. its a well known composition by Cedar Walton, a sessions player on many Blue Note recordings including Joe Henderson and early on in 60s with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers . Sometimes , you have to go and dig out some strange-named titles to really appreciate Duke Pearson’s mind. Especially his sense of humor with this composition the band tackled with all their might, Big Bertha. a bright uptempo ,kind of funky, driving tune. Makes you wonder what your experience would have been like meeting the infamous “Big Bertha.” Later in the evening The band decided not to perform a fast tune to open the next set , they went with a sublime composition written by Duke and dedicated to his mother, On Mother’s Day This Year (wear the brightest rose) “we wanted the audience to feel the lyrics that was also in the composition” stated Robert J. Carmack ,producer. “but we had no male vocalist to sing it, so we used Derf Reklaw flute’s mid range and low tones to bring out the richness of the very harmonic laden tune. we followed that up with another smooth swinger in Gaslight, taken from his mid-60s period.
“Many of these Pearson compositions were quite complex in their original form, and sometime they was not available to get the charts I needed , I had to rely on my associate and friend James Armstrong , who helped me immensely on many of the complex melodies, James was instrumental in breaking down a lot of the music theory I did not know, to even select the compositions we used in the show was quite difficult,” stated Carmack. James was invaluable on this project.
Carmack surprised the audience with a riveting poem written by Eric Wattree ,a family friend of Dexter Gordon, It’s called A Swinging Affair, another Blue note gem, that also included Billy Higgins on Drums at that 1964 session under the watchful eye and ear of Mr. Duke Pearson, though not credited as producer or arranger on a lot of Blue Note records, his fingerprints were all over a plethora of big records by the label, under a special arrangement between Duke and Alfred Lions , whose name appear as Producer very suspiciously on too many “hits”. It was technically his money paying for sessions ,but we all know whose creative energies were prevalent on the albums themselves. The evening’s last two compositions played by the Uncle Duke Legacy Band was just stellar, starting with Amanda, a bouncy,latin-tinged call and response ditty between West’s piano and Reklaw’s Flute. Reklaw took no solace in having to bounce between Flute and accented 4s between drums and bongos, followed by more fire from the flute as he played an extended flute solo that conjured up James Spaulding. Spaulding by the way, played flute and alto on the original 1966 “Wahoo ” album. The finale was just indescribable, Cristo Redentor, featured all members of the band , the two female vocalists and poetry by Robert Carmack. The flute’s voice was mixed with the angelic voices of the female singers , that set up a choir like sound as in the original Donald Byrd piece with piano by Bobby West’s alternating the hymn -like melody with the flute’s voice, follow in the second part by a Harmon muted trumpet by Jon Williams of the World Stage staff, this set up a mood as the band lowered its sound and vamped as Carmack recited an original poem call Let Freedom Ring Now!, aptly titled after a Jackie McLean Blue Note record from the mid 60s, this all culminated in bringing down the house with a standing ovation by the fully engaged audience at the World Stage. Robert Carmack’s next and last show of the Pocket Jazz series for August concludes Saturday,August 29. NOW’S The Time: Spirits of Our Ancestors 7:30pm doors open 8pm showtime. Venue: World Stage 4344 S. Degnan Blvd. L.A. 90008 951-840-7120 RSVP /Tickets info $15 tickets until 8pm $20 ATD after 8pm
Robert J. Carmack , collaborated with Billy Higgin’s World Stage in order to try to capture in one evening, one man’s most compelling compositions of the 1960s at Blue Note Records.
MORE ABOUT DUKE PEARSON
“This was most challenging, said Carmack , How does one select from the multitudes of compositions he’s written, produced,or arranged while having an impact. Not just on the album sales at Blue Note, but also the genre itself as Blue Note made its transition from well-known A&R man, Ike Quebec, a mainstay at the label coming out of the swing era,bebop period , then latching on at Blue Note as an arranger, and facilitator for new music and artists. IMHO, the label’s quite volatile roster of talent began to come up a little stagnant and needed new & fresh ideas to drive the label as the 1960s was upon them. Unfortunately by 1961, the death of Ike Quebec left a gaping hole in Lion & Wolff’s ability to attract new talent and fresh musical ideas. Hence, the hiring of Duke Pearson by Alfred Lion put them squarely on the right path as history played out, from 1962 -1970 Blue Note Records had its best and most profitable times, including having some of the best in artist signings and record productions in Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, Kenny Drew, Stanley Turrentine, Dexter Gordon, Bobby Hutcherson,Joe Henderson, to name a few artists. Two of the biggest albums during his tenure was, New Perspectives by Donald Byrd featuring Cristo Redentor and The Sidewinder by long time Blue Note staple,Lee Morgan. IMHO, If there were no Duke Pearson’s Vision, Those records among others never gets made.
Duane Deterville shown here with Editor of Hipster Sanctuary, Robert J. Carmack. Deterville in Los Angeles recently for a guest lecture examining the iconography, structure, and layered meanings in Kahlil Joseph: Double Conscience. The scholarly artist,writer specializes in African and Afro-Diasporic Visual Culture.
Deterville previously wrote on Joseph’s film Until the Quiet Comes (2012), using African cosmology as an explanatory legend for the film’s magnetic imagery. “The Afriscape Ghost Dance on Film” appeared as a two-part essay in the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)’s publication Open Space, where Deterville is an alumni columnist. In addition to everything else, Duane, Jazz archivist/historian also has a succinct and essential jazz collection in vinyl of primo Jazz artists. https://www.facebook.com/theafriscape
2006, in Oakland,California, Carmack collaborated with Deterville and his organization,Sankofa Institute. As part of an art symposium entitled Bird, Bop, Black Art and Beyond. Mr Carmack presented a work in progress one-act play on Charlie Parker, Wounded Feathers: a Jazz Tragedy. In addition, Robert participated in a forum panel of experts,musicians,archivists and super-fans on the “STATE OF JAZZ”, and where its headed.
Every Friday at 6pm the L.A.County Museum of Art presents a free Jazz series that start in early Spring until October,featuring local and regional musicians and vocalists. http://www.lacma.org
This Friday night in New York City promises to be unforgettable. The hard-driving drummer & bandleader,Willie Jones III slides in for one-night only,three dinner sets. August 21, 1st set begins at 7:30pm.
Willie Jones III, one of the hardest swinging drummers in modern jazz, is an important bandleader who leads groups that have irresistible chemistry. He has worked with an extensive list of major jazz artists including extended stints with Roy Hargrove, Arturo Sandoval, and Hank Jones. He’s also a noted record producer and label owner who has released several critically acclaimed albums as a leader. The New York Times states, “He comes from a line of percussive descent established by Kenny Clark, and later modified by Philly Joe Jones; he’s more than comfortable with polyrhythms, but it’s straight-forward swing that suits him best.” Joining Jones, is the all-star lineup of Jeremy Pelt, Ralph Moore, Eric Reed, and Gerald Cannon.
Jazz pianist and composer who also had experience as producer,bandleader,arranger and A&R man for Blue Note in the 1960s and beyond. His talent and perseverance help shape the Hard Bop direction for Blue Note records.
“Even after 30 + years past his death, his legacy has to fight for any mention on broadcasts, books on jazz, and so-called jazz historian essays.”
The last few years,there has been rumblings of exhibits,Hall of Fame inclusion in Georgia, etc.so far,its only been conjecture and wishful thinking on the part of family members and fans. IMHO, Duke Pearson was too talented, and special to not be included in any Hall of Fame, museums or major jazz exhibits.Some of my favorite music in Jazz just happens to be music composed, produced or arranged by Duke Pearson. Jeannine by Eddie Jefferson, & Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams group. The Phantom, Wahoo, Amanda, Sweet Honey Bee…