As this writer was trying to decide on subjects and artists to write about during Jazz appreciation month, “Hubb”, BKA Freddie Hubbard, came into my mind
It’s not easy to write aboutan eclectic figurelikeFrederick Dewayne Hubbard. So I’m just going to go against all traditional musings about Hubbard, as viewed by the “jazz-elite”press corps.
I’m more inclined with the hip-crowd of admirers and fans that marvel over the fire, passionand gymnastics. He had all that going for him, that flowed from his body like sweat on a star athlete having a two-hundred rushing yardsday, or a 50 point basketball night.
Iwas first introduced to “Freddie” onHerbie Hancock’s fourth album on Blue Note, Empyrean Isles,1964. At the time I was studying music and saxophone in junior high. First, I was drawn into the groove of Cantaloupe Island, but, as I listened more…
The HIPSTER CELEBRATES TWENTY YEARS JAN 22nd 7:PM @Upstairs at Vitellos Supper Club –Studio City Calif. – Must purchase ticket online to attend event
All are welcome to come out and Toast in the New Year and support Live Jazz. GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY.. Win a FREE Advance Signed Copy of Standards & Other Songs” by Ron Jackson releasing in March,2019
It was announced recently at post-concert event, Hipster Sanctuary .com is celebrating its 20th year as a brand and media organization. “We started as a newsletter for The Atlanta International Jazz Society, a group dedicated to promoting the legacy of the American original art form, JAZZ. With our mission intact, we are still promoting traditional and classic jazz, not as a Jazz society now, but as an E-Zine and blog” said Robert J. Carmack, co-founding member.” As a labor of love project, we have purged ahead to 2019, as our first newsletter was published in January 1999. As a way to commemorate that honor with our friends and great fan followers of the publication, Hipster Sanctuary.Com, We’ve partnered up with one of our jazz groups we strongly support, Ron Jackson/Teodross Avery Soul Jazz project for a JAZZ MEET-UP at the eclectic Upstairs at VITELLO’s Supper Club in Studio City, California. Tuesday, Jan 22nd 2019 7:pm
Members of the Hipster Collector’s Corner jazz group will gather at the club early for a toast to the new year and our 20 years advocating for the legacy. jazz legends cited and honored by this group over the 20 years are Joe Henderson, Shirley Horn, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Oscar Peterson, Billy Higgins, Jackie McLean, Taj Mahal, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Fortune, Vanessa Rubin, Freddie Cole, Hilton Ruiz and others. they all received a Congressional Lifetime Achievement Award sanctioned by Congress and signed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Hipster Sanctuary.com sister page on Facebook, HIPSTER COLLECTOR’S CORNER. We can’t wait to blow the audience away with “throwback electricity” with New York based Jazz guitarist, Ron Jackson (www.ronjacksonmusic.com) making his L.A. debut with his good friend and L.A. based Jazz saxophonist, Teodross Avery. Also, long time jazz veteran drummer, Cecil Brooks III out of Jersey City. Brian Ho Hammond Organ. Some special surprises in store for the evening.
The group’s sound is a B3 Organ- Guitar-Sax sound that made Blue Note Records popular during the 1960s, conjuring up the memory of Jimmy Smith, Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Burrell or a Grant Green feel.
Hipster Sanctuary.com wants to save you $10 on admission by purchasing your tickets through the restaurant’s Eventbrite.com web link. easy and safe online tickets@$20. “Select your own table”
When you buy your advanced ticket it qualifies you for drawing for a signed free Advanced Jazz CD giveaway at Concert that evening. Get your ticket today! $30 per ticket for day of event. (minimum purchase per person, drink or food items) Ron JACKSON New CD Releases March 2019.
“Standards & Other Songs”- Ron Jackson with Nathan Brown and Darrell Green
Stanley Turrentine with the Three Sounds – Blue Hour
Music Matters Jazz
In the hands of Stanley Turrentine, the tenor saxophone was an instrument of soulful creativity and immense power. From his 1960 Blue Note debut, Look Out (BLP 4039/BST 84039) through his biggest hit for CTI Records, Sugar (CTI 6005) in 1971, Turrentine’s credentials were second to none as a giant in the genres of Hard-Bop, Modal and Soul-Jazz. The subject of this discussion places the tenor man in the company of Gene Harris on piano; Andrew Simpkins on bass and Bill Dowdy on drums who were collectively known as The Three Sounds for a program of the Blues. Blue Hour (BLP 4057/BST 84057), originally released in 1961 is the second of only two records where The Three Sounds would back a saxophonist. The first LP was 1959’s LD + 3 (BLP 4012/BST 84012) with alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson. My copy used in this report is the 2015 Music Matters 33 1/3 Stereo reissue (MMBST-84057). The 1930 song, I Want a Little Girl written by Murray Mencher and Billy Moll leads off the first side. This infrequently heard ballad opens with an angelic introduction by the trio, exhibiting Harris’ attentiveness to the lyric and melody. Stanley joins in for the theme with a quiet sincerity in his approach, then delivers a graceful performance which captures the essence of this standard on the initial solo. Harris’ interlude is brief, but lovely and the closing by the quartet is especially beautiful.
Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You was written in 1929 by Don Redman and Andy Razaf. The song became a jazz standard in 1943 after Nat King Cole recorded it with his trio. The Three Sounds provide a nostalgic mood with a pensive introduction, allowing Stanley to deliver the melancholy melody with feeling. Turrentine starts the solos tastefully, enhancing each verse with subtle lyricism which reaches a peak of sensitivity at its conclusion. Harris instills the closing presentation of this standard with new life on an interpretation of intimate warmth which is a work of beauty. The only original on the album ends the first side, Gene Harris’ Blue Riff takes the tempo to a medium beat during the opening chorus which moves with a finger-popping, toe-tapping groove. The Sounds’ introduction sets the mood for Stanley to create some jubilant phrases on the opening statement with a vivacious spontaneity which builds to a successful summation. Gene takes the next turn for a cheerful presentation of joyful swinging with a youthful spirit which is also delightful. Stanley returns for a few final verses of soulful riffs, prior to Gene leading the trio into a fadeout.
The 1945 jazz and pop standard, Since I Fell For You by Buddy Johnson opens the second side. Johnson wrote both the music and words of this very beautiful ballad, and first introduced that year it with his sister Ella on vocals. This evergreen is one of the most recorded songs in jazz and pop and has been performed by many of the greatest musicians and vocalists in both genres. The Three Sounds start the song with a stylishly soft, slow-paced introduction as natural as if the song was written for this album exclusively. The trio segues into a soothing opening melody by Turrentine who solos twice, delivering tasteful and tranquil restraint on the first interpretation and closing chorus. Harris contributes a luscious reading which is lovingly stated with tenderness. Simpkins and Dowdy’s accompaniment is richly satisfying behind Gene as he performs each voluptuous verse. One of my favorite standards, Willow Weep For Me, written by Ann Ronell in 1932 opens with the exquisitely mellow tone of Stanley’s tenor sax leading the quartet through the main theme for one of his definitive ballad performances on the LP. Gene’s opening statement is a gorgeous, mid-tempo reading which compliments his colleague’s exceptional groundwork into an alluring culmination. Stanley’s closing performance starts at a poignant pace with a firm introspective tone, followed by a graceful swing which takes the tune down smoothly into a luscious finale.
Pianist Gene Harris, who was known for his gospel jazz style formed The Three Sounds in 1956 with Andy Simpkins and Bill Dowdy. The group became a hit with the public and by the time Blue Hour was recorded, the trio was amid a four-year run (1958-1962) recording a total of twelve albums for Blue Note including four in 1960 alone, which is why I believe Alfred Lion didn’t release the additional eight songs available on the 2000 two CD – album after this record hit the stores. The Three Sounds’ would be together until 1970, when Harris would leave to embark on a successful solo career. Stanley Turrentine was a veteran tenor saxophonist of the Soul-Jazz style since the fifties and he would record a total of seventeen LP’s for the label as a leader, plus several as a sideman including guitarist Kenny Burrell on Midnight Blue (BLP 4123/BST 84123); pianist Horace Parlan (1931-2017) on Spur of The Moment (BLP 4074/BST 84074). Three with organist Shirley Scott (1934-2002) who he was married to at the time, Never Let Me Go (BLP 4129/BST 84129); A Chip Off The Old Block (BLP 4150/BST 84150) and Common Touch (BST 84135). One with pianist Horace Silver (1928-2014), Serenade To a Soul Sister (BLP 4277/BST 84277) and three with organist Jimmy Smith (1928-2005), Midnight Special (BLP 4078/BST 84078); Back at The Chicken Shack (BLP 4117/BST 84117) and Prayer Meetin’ (BLP 4164/BST 84164).
In his liner notes, noted author, jazz historian and journalist Ira Gitler offers one definition of the Blue Hour as that early morning time “when you reach across the pillow where your Baby used to lay” and find to find him (or her) there. The sound on this LP is stunning, the remastering of Rudy Van Gelder’s original tapes by Record Technology Incorporated is also superb and the gatefold photos of each musician during the session compliments the music marvelously. What I’ve found the album to be is nearly thirty-eight minutes of blissful jazz by Stanley Turrentine and The Three Sounds that adds weight to any jazzy library and is an LP you can enjoy at any time of the day, the evening or the early morning during the Blue Hour.
I Want a Little Girl, Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You, Since I Fell For You, Willow Weep For Me – Source: Wikipedia.com
Our Newest Contributing Jazz Editor Mr. Eddie Carter of Atlanta..FOLLOW the JAZZTRACKS
Words from Publisher/Founder Robert J. Carmack
“welcome aboard Eddie its good to have your wise advice and keen knowledge when it comes to jazz.” R.J. Carmack
Eddie Carter – Southern Region – Jazz Editor ~ Eddie’s love for jazz began at the age of eight years old and learned all he could about the bands, groups, musicians and vocalists who created the music. He began writing reviews of CD’s and LP’s in 1991 for The Atlanta Audio Society and covered concerts including The Tri-C Jazz Fest, The Cincinnati Music Festival and The Atlanta Jazz Festival for WCLK’s On the Air Magazine and Strictly Jazz Magazine. He currently writes jazz reviews for The Atlanta Audio Club web page and three Facebook pages.
The Jazz Crusaders – Lighthouse ‘68
By Eddie Carter
My choice from the library to talk about this time is by four friends from Houston, Texas who began performing locally in 1956. They were originally known as The Swingsters and The Nite Hawks, but moved to Los Angeles in 1961, changed their name and became one of the best West Coast ensembles of the sixties, The Jazz Crusaders. I first discovered their music in 1962, the year I became a jazz fan thanks to one of my heroes on the airwaves, Chuck Lansing of WCUY 92.3 FM. He began his nightly show with The Young Rabbits, the last track on their second LP, Lookin’ Ahead (PJ-43/ST-43), also released that year. The song became a huge hit for the group and I loved the sound of the trombone-tenor sax front line. The quartet consists of Wayne Henderson on trombone; Wilton Felder on tenor sax; Joe Sample on piano; Stix Hooper on drums with Jimmy Bond, Victor Gaskin, and Herbie Lewis filling the bass chair on their records during the decade. Lighthouse ’68 (ST-10131) documents the group performing live at one of the premiere West Coast clubs, The Lighthouse Café, in business since 1949 and now a multi-genre venue which features jazz twice weekly. The bassist joining the quartet on this date is Buster Williams and my copy used in this report is the original 1968 US Stereo release.
The set opens with Oogo-Boo-Ga-Loo, an infectiously danceable audience grabber by Stix Hooper which begins with a lovely introduction by the trio, then blossoms into a sanctified styled theme treatment. Wilton goes to work first with a soulfully flavored, funky performance that calls to mind the sound of tenor man Willis Jackson and will have you tapping your toes and wanting to get up and dance. Joe takes over for a brief performance of irresistibly appealing phrases on the closer, leading to the theme’s reprise and audience’s appreciative applause. Eleanor Rigby by John Lennon and Paul McCartney is one of The Beatles most famous and recorded compositions. The quintet’s rendition does the song proud with a mid-tempo version which begins with them exploring the melody collectively. Sample is the song’s only soloist and he gives an extended performance of dazzling melodic lines which are consistently creative and exquisitely presented.
The tempo moves up for Native Dancer, the first of two contributions by Buster Williams which gets off to a roaring start with a nimble melody presentation. The aggressive opening statement by Joe moves swiftly through each verse like a musical twister, then comes Wayne who makes his first solo appearance next with a jubilant spirit during his performance which is remarkable. Wilton steps into the spotlight next for a swinging reading of limitless energy. Buster takes over for the finale with a delightful interpretation that is a model of spontaneous construction, showing off his agility as an improviser and extraordinary inspiration as a composer effectively. Sample’s Never Had It So Good starts the second side with an easy spirited beat that leads us back to church with a bit of boogaloo in the imaginative display of harmony during the group’s opening melody. The solo order is Felder, Henderson and Sample, and each man preaches their part of this sermon weaving a series of rhythmic ideas which swing comfortably to the delight of their extended congregation, the Lighthouse audience.
The Emperor, also by Williams takes us back to straightforward bop with the solos in the same order as the previous tune. Wilton starts the soloing with a passionately personal opening statement with each phrase beautifully articulated as he weaves gracefully in unison with the stunning foundation provided by Joe, Buster and Stix. Wayne sustains the relaxing beat with an attractive reading possessing a great amount of warmth and excitement. Joe makes a succinct statement with a full-bodied interpretation of finesse which is skillfully performed. Buster eases into the final interpretation with a performance as mild as a smooth sherry and a sound that goes straight to the heart. The album ends with John Coltrane’s Impressions, taken at breakneck speed with an invigorating introduction by the trio and theme statement led by the horns. Henderson takes off first with a jet-propelled interpretation followed by Felder who infuses the second solo with searing fire for an energetic workout. Sample comes next with an exhilarating performance of fierce intensity and Stix exchanges a few clever comments with both horns prior to the effervescent ending.
Three years after this album was recorded the quintet would shorten its name to The Crusaders, moving towards Jazz-Fusion, Jazz-Funk and Smooth Jazz. Their biggest hit would come four years after Henderson left the group to become a record producer in 1979 with Street Life (MCA Records MCA 3094) featuring Soul vocalist Randy Crawford. The remaining members would stay together until 1983 when Hooper left to pursue a solo career. In 1991, the surviving members Sample and Felder released what would be their final album as The Crusaders, Healing The Wounds (MCA Records 09638 – GRP 9638). In 1995, Wayne Henderson revived The Jazz Crusaders name for a CD-album, Happy Again (Sin-Drome Records SD 8909). Henderson who suffered from diabetes, passed away from heart failure on April 5, 2014 at age seventy-four. Joe Sample passed away five months later on September 12, 2014 from Mesothelioma and Wilton Felder passed away one year later on September 27, 2015 from Multiple myeloma, both were seventy-five years old. Stix Hooper and flutist Hubert Laws who (I didn’t know was a founding member) left the group in 1960 to attend The Juilliard School of Music are the only surviving members of the original group.
Dino Lappas, the engineer on Lighthouse ’68 has also worked on their second live album, Live at The Lighthouse ’66 (PJ-10098/ST-20098); their fourth and final live album, Lighthouse ’69 (World Pacific Jazz – Pacific Jazz ST-20165); The Three Sounds Live at The Lighthouse (BLP 4265/BST 84265) a year earlier in 1967 and also in 1972 on Elvin Jones Live at The Lighthouse (BN-LA015-G) and Grant Green Live at The Lighthouse (BN-LA037-G2) on Blue Note. The sound quality is splendid throughout with plenty of clarity across the frequency band of treble, midrange and bass. This is particularly noticeable with a good set of headphones; the benefit is the richness and detail of each instrument and specifically Buster Williams’ bass which is outstanding. If you only know of this talented group of musicians from their records as The Crusaders, I invite you to audition Lighthouse ’68 during your next vinyl hunt for a spot in your jazz library. The album will transport you back in time to that intimate Hermosa Beach venue, The Lighthouse Café to hear The Jazz Crusaders at the top of their game playing some of the best Hard-Bop and Post-Bop you’ll hear! The last vinyl pressing of Lighthouse ’68 (APBL-2312) was issued by Applause Records in 1982 and is out of print. The CD-album released in 2004 by Pacific Jazz Records adds four additional tracks to the LP track listing, Cathy The Cooker by Wayne Henderson; Shadows by Buster Williams, Tough Talk by Stix Hooper, Joe Sample and Wayne Henderson, and Third Principle by Wilton Felder, and is to my knowledge out of print as well!
Cathy The Cooker, Happy Again, Healing The Wounds, Elvin Jones at The Lighthouse, Grant Green at The Lighthouse, Dino Lappas, Live at The Lighthouse ’66, Lighthouse ’69, Shadows, Street Life, Third Principle, Tough Talk – Source: Discogs.com
Jimmy Bond, Randy Crawford, Wilton Felder, Victor Gaskin, Wayne Henderson, Stix Hooper, Hubert Laws, Herbie Lewis, The Julliard School of Music, Joe Sample
Los Angeles, CA. Nov 14__ The City of angels needed a rest from crazy news cycles and bad traffic reports,the perfect Rx was written last Sunday evening at Zebulon Café. Concord Records Group newest label, The Jazz Dispensary served up AZAR LAWRENCE EXPERIENCE in Bridge into the New Age .
Lawrence brought in his all-star lineup of jazz greats to recreate the spirit of his 1970s Original album. that album featured the best of the best of that era in musicianship, featuring the likes of trumpeter Woody Shaw and the electrifying Jean Carne on vocals. Azar Lawrence (ZARMAN) wasted no time in introducing the SRO crowd in the 300 seat club to gems from the album as the 7 piece band flexed its jazz muscles on the title track, Bridge into The New Age, a heavy mixture of hard-bop, modal and world fusion. One could not help but notice the audience, as it was multi-generational. The millennial and gen-X hipsters were digging on fiery-cosmic rhythms being fanned by veteran drummers Roy McCurdy and Munyugo Jackson on percussions & toys. Holding down the bottom was the “Skipper” Henry Franklin on bass. Anchoring the rhythm unit was the former keyboards for the late Alphonse Mouzon Quintet and current pianist Theo Saunders.The frontline, the very powerful trumpeter(Michael Hunter) and Azar Lawrence on saxes.
Sounding like an Angel on earth was the very beautiful, Ms.Windy Barnes-Farrell reaching new heights on vocals.
One of the highlights of the evening was a velvety ballad by Azar and the band with vocals on the translucent and stellar composition, Fatisha,written by Azar.. He followed that cut up with a universal spiritual tune that begins with all drums and percussions with a minimal arcing by bassist Henry Franklin, before Lawrence then spins on chanted-spoken words, before being joined by the swirling rhythms of the band on The Beautiful and Omnipresent Love . Pick up your copy today at your favorite online store for music. https://www.concordmusicgroup.com/albums/jazz-dispensary/
As this writer was trying to decide on subjects and artists to write about during Jazz appreciation month, “Hubb”, BKA Freddie Hubbard, came into my mind
It’s not easy to write about an eclectic figure like Frederick Dewayne Hubbard. So I’m just going to go against all traditional musings about Hubbard, as viewed by the “jazz-elite”press corps.
I’m more inclined with the hip crowd of admirers and fans that marvel over the fire, passion and gymnastics. He had all that going for him, that flowed from his body like sweat on a star athlete having a two-hundred rushing yards day, or a 50 point basketball night.
I was first introduced to “Freddie” on Herbie Hancock’s fourth album on Blue Note, Empyrean Isles,1964. At the time, I was studying music and saxophone. First, I was drawn into the groove of Cantaloupe Island, but, as I listened more to the whole album, I became impressed with the trumpeter.
He didn’t sound like any of the other trumpeters of the era I’d been listening to, like Miles, Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Dizzy or Clark Terry. It was Hubbard’s dexterity and mastery of his horn, plus, the “swag” and POWER! To coin another sports phrase, Freddie was like a Powerback among a field of average running-backs. He hit a little harder than the others. Man.. those “runs” and glass-shattering high notes that seem to flow so easily from Hubb.
I had not even seen Freddie live yet until , early 1967. He was touring with a concept co-op band called ,the Jazz Communicators. It included Joe Henderson, Herbie Lewis, Kenny Barron, and Mr. straight-ahead himself, Louis Hayes.
One day while lunching at school, a few of the cats from the school jazz band and myself agreed to catch this group over the weekend. since they were appearing at the famous Lighthouse Jazz café in Hermosa Beach, a local venue inside the metro los Angeles area. We were so anxious, or, I was at least. I could hardly get through the week doing my homework and band practice.
Friday finally arrived , and we got such an early start ,we were the first ones to arrive at the club as only the workers were coming to punch-in for work that night . The anticipation of that frontline was just overwhelming to us. Wow ! Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard. We decided to walk around to kill some time. one of the guys brought a joint that was rather poorly rolled in wheat straw papers and looked pregnant. (Lol) so, we veered down to the far end of the Pier, away from prying-eyes. The five of us proceeded to enjoy the libations, though it was quite comical in our inexperience in these type matters.. the real comedy came as we began to experience the mini-explosions of burning seeds and stems as we laughed uncontrollably until we finished it. Then, walking back to the front door , we were met by the ever-smiling Bassist/Manager, Howard Rumsey. He just said, as we came in, “You Cats know the rules ,so enjoy yourselves.. We took our “up-close seats” and ordered our “soft Cokes,” with strange assortments of cherries, limes and oranges garnishing the glass . that made us feel like, we were fitting-in with the very hip and rather chatty crowd. Without any further delay, Howard came over the loudspeaker, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Jazz Communicators!”
Bam!. Right out the gate Freddie Hubbard kicked off a JazzMessengers favorite and, Hubbard’s standard, “Crisis”. I don’t know what its like to ride a bull in a rodeo, but I do know what its like to punch a super-charged CorvetteSting-Ray for the first time.. Zero to 60 in a matter of a few seconds. with my heart and my “stones” jumping out of my body. That’s what it was like with Freddie and Joe opening with a slightly faster version of Crisis. He played, I listened to his very powerful playing up-close and personal. He took at least six courses. OMG!! I had no idea.
The Power, the flow of ideas, trills ,choke notes Highs-lows ascending-descending, those long lung-busting phrases. Oh yeah, those little counter-melodies and rich harmonics,chock full of surprise quotes from classic tunes fused in-between, the sinewy side-bar lines Freddie is known for as a signature.
Joe Henderson’s solo was no less electrifying as only Joe could do. Quick power phrases, built on Flat fives and 9s..squawks,growls followed by machine gun like notes pouring out of his horn, riding the rhythm and comping by Louis Hayes and a young Kenny Barron. All held together by the “glue” of bassist Herbie Lewis.
I had seen lots of groups come to the lighthouse ,but this was a special night. Unbelievable on many levels to this writer. First, The group kept elevating, We stayed from the first to the last set and there were no “Let-Ups” in intensity. Second..I never forgot that evening’s performances. Third, Here it is now 50+ years later, and I’m still remembering it as if, it was only yesterday.
A couple of us guys that’s still here often reflect on that evening’s fun and camaraderie.. But, the artistry of Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson,Kenny Barron, Herbie Lewis and Louis Hayes still DISTRIBUTE GOOD THOUGHTS IN GREAT TIMES, IN OUR HEADS.
July 2003, I was producer/MC for a Jazz series in San Francisco-Knob Hill project called “Celebrate a Legend-Jazz In July” a month long 7 days a week series featuring Freddie Hubbard, Freddie Coles, Vanessa Rubin, Doug Carn, Sonny Fortune, Andy Bey, Calvin Keyes, to name a few. All participating and receiving lifetime achievement awards. We brought in Freddie special for five days, even surprising Freddie with an old friend in Billy Paul making an cameo performance of the “Old folk”. During the course of the five days , I had my hands full with “Hubb just being Hubb”.. some of you will know what I mean..(smile) But at the end of the day, I felt blessed from the thought of coming from a 15 year old kid in a school band practice room, trying to understand all of what was happening on the “Night of the Cookers” album. Then, flash forwarded to 2003, and i’m now booking and presenting Freddie Hubbard to a hip and sophisticated San Francisco audience. a real dream deferred!
Freddie Hubbard was many things to many people including a husband, a father, and a human being with warts and all that comes with that too. Most importantly, he had the respect of his family, friends and fans alike. Certainly mine. I miss Hubb on the scene with all his swag, panache with that biting humor of his.
I’m remembering, Federick Dwayne Hubbard April 7 1938 – December 29 2008.
San Francisco Bay area jazz pianist, arranger, composer and educator from East Moline(Iowa) widely known as “The Jazz Professor” died Saturday evening at the age of 80 at his home in Oakland, Calif. July 1936 – March 2017
“Professor” Bell mentored and inspired many professional musicians as a college music professor and jazz band director.
He also recorded several jazz albums and worked with the likes of Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, Clark Terry, Lou Rawls, Louie Bellson, The Supremes, and Carmen McRae.
He never forgot the Watertown section of East Moline where he grew up being called “Little Bill.” Those who knew him are mourning his loss and treasuring their memories. Those in the East bay and through-out the San Francisco bay area are mourning too, along with family and loved ones.
Mr. Bell did make recordings and composed a “work” for the San Francisco Symphony. He also began a long career as an esteemed educator that included being chairman at the College of Alameda, Music Department, jazz improvisation teacher at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Stanford University Jazz Band.
Prominent students Bell mentored included Sheila Escovedo, better known as Prince’s collaborator Sheila E.; jazz pianists Benny Green and Michael Wolfe also, trumpeter Jon Faddis.
The following text is a reprint of a Hipster Jazz blog review written by Robert J. Carmack ,November 7 2007, Oakland,California.
It was announced by Robert J. Carmack, executive producer and vice-president operations for SFBAAAM, that their first concert was a complete success. the first in a continuing series entitled “Back Street Jazz Series”, was held Sunday, November 4th at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music in downtown Oakland California. The show which featured the musical leadership of Jazz educator/pianist, Dr. Bill Bell. The SRO crowd applauded, yelled and whistled at the tight band assembled by Bell and a trio of sultry vocalists featured on the first set. jumping blues to ballads with a “big band feel” using arrangements by Bell himself, an accomplished arranger/composer. Sunday’s show opened with local favorite Ms. Robin Gregory as she torched the audience with her rendition of Blue Gardenia, followed by a lovely arrangement of Cole Porter’s Night & Day.
Valerie Cooper, a talented up and coming singer in the bay area followed Robin. “It was truly magical” stated Joye Slayton, a visiting jazz fan from Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Bell just simply pointed at certain musicians and they responded with blistering solos and sublime “comping” and coloring. Finishing up the first set was veteran vocalist, Darlene Coleman, a very talented songstress, who just nailed both her songs with polished tenacity and sheer vocal power.
The evening’s host and producer, Robert Carmack introduced a panel of jazz educators and musicians to discuss, “how jazz could further develop their audiences” by including more youth and starting early in the exposure of jazz to young people.
Local jazz radio host, Sonny Buxton, Ms. Anna De Leon, Anna’s of “Jazz Island” night club, Karlton Hester, department head of music at UC Santa Cruz, Multi-instrumentalist Roger Glenn and “Professor” Bell, conductor of first set’s band, also participated.
An assorted menu of food items were served to the hungry crowd, as they purchased dinners and beverages to help raise money for continued jazz programming and to expand the series for the Black Musicians Forum.
The evening was not done, as Carmack gathered the crowd for the start of the second set. It featured an entirely different band and musical director. Mr. Glenn Pearson. Pearson, head of music department at The College of Alameda presented a more “edgy” sounding ensemble with sax, trumpet, bass, drums and piano, the saxophonist Roger Glenn doubling on vibes and flute. OPCM founder, Ms. Angela Wellman(trombonist/educator) was totally elated at the success of the evenings’ joint venture between BMF/SFBAAAM and OPCM. a relationship that is developing into a great marriage quickly . Many of the patrons spoke volumes of praises as they exited the building for the night. a slogan has been adopted by the two organizations and will be publicize wherever it can.
We Own This! Use It, Feel It, Live It! Next event is slated for Sunday, December 2nd at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, Oakland California.
When this writer was a very young kid he use to watch these old black and white movies with Mickey Rooney where the friends all wanted to get the band together and do shows. Years later, Now in high school he performs in talent shows and weekend parties. He meets others like him who are talented and want to pursue their dreams of reaching their music and entertainment goals.
Harold Johnson is one of those people who dreamed about one day making it in the entertainment. While most of us teenagers was chasing girls around the campus or showing off on the athletic field, Harold Johnson and a close-knit group of guys were huddled up “talking sharps and flats” in the music room. Then on weekends they would jam at each other’s parent’s den or garages , trying to get tight so they could get a gig. the “Ultimate” for any budding young musician.
Along the way there were great music teachers and people of influence, one such person that taught young Harold was the late Jazz Crusaders piano, Joe Sample…apparently Joe taught him well… about theory, performance and production, including the “Business” part of the music world.
In the middle of the “Motown Era” circa 1966 a group of high students got together with a mature 16-year-old Harold. They secured the funds to go into the studio, and come out with a Hot product(“Sorry ‘Bout That“) which began to pick up traction on the local radio scene. Along with live concerts at the high schools,community centers and anywhere they could get a crowd and play, soon a large record label(REVUE) came along and pushed out an album that commanded major air-time. Even the major jazz and soul stations played the 45.
It was heard at college stations, high schools, on Juke boxes in cafes, barber shops, there were few places you didn’t hear House on Elm Street. Even Cats from the Nam‘ had heard about it and shared the music overseas . I was lucky enough to see them live at the beginning of their musical journey…I was in the Centennial High School Band with one of the members, David Crawford, Flute , who at that time already had “Hubert Laws/Herbie Mann skills” reputation around campus ala the very talent rich school shows in the mid-1960s. members of recording band were Jimmy Nash on Bass,Alfred Patterson Alto sax,Eddie Synigal Alto sax, Mike Shaw Tenor sax,Ronald Rutledge Drums,Billy Jackson Congos/percussion, David Crawford Flute, and Harold Johnson leader/Piano.
The hot album , House On Elm Street released in 1967, made Harold very popular on his high school campus at Washington High School in Los Angeles. while being another school chock full of talented student musicians (Darryl”Munyungo” Jackson, Nate Morgan). By the second album, Everyone Loves a Winner, some new players joined the group or recorded with Harold , a very young Leon “NDUGU” Chanceler, drums, Vibes with Larry Nash,(brother of Jimmy Nash).
Currently,Harold T. Johnson Sr. is an accomplished Producer, Writer and Arranger. He’s a California State University Dominguez Hills Graduate, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education. Also a Gold Album recipient for Thelma Houston’s “Anyway You Like It” Album and the 5th Dimension “Star Dancing” Album and Platinum Album recipient for the Temptations Christmas Classic “Give Love At Christmas.” Major hits writer for LTD Concentrate on You & Atlantic Starr “Get Closer (than Close) just to name a couple.
While a Producer, Writer and Arranger: Over forty of Harold’s songs were recorded by Artists such as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stanley Turrentine, Devastating Affair, Smokey Robinson, Sylvester, Nate Dogg, Harold Johnson II, Natalia Johnson, Stephanie Mills, Olivia Reese, Liz Mc Comb, Jerry Butler, 21st Creation, Three Ounces Of Love, Dennis Edwards, Z.Z. Hill, Thelma Houston, Tata Vega, Michael Wycoff, Atlantic Starr, Rockie Robbins, Gloria Gaynor, LTD and Jeffrey Osbourne, The OJAYS, The Temptations and more.
Through-out his illustrious career as “industry-behind-the-scenes” legend, He also worked as an educator inside the LA Unified School district. Capturing a NAACP image award nomination for a Musical-2005 ~ “At the Lincoln”
After 50 years as a professional entertainer,producer,arranger & musician.. He’s still hungry for new music and creating new songs, but his real passion is now “pastoring” his own flock at his church,just as his father did before him..Bravo Harold T. .Bravo!!
Catch Harold Johnson & Friends at Catalina’s Bar & Grill.
Harold JOHNSON Sextet & Company “Back On Elm Street Reunion” w/ Harold Johnson(keys, vocalist & writer)
Feat: David Crawford(flute), Ndugu Chanceler(drums), Welton Gite(bass),, Munyungo Jackson(percussions), Gemi Taylor(guitar), Rickey Woodard(saxophone), vocals by Deborah White, Joyce Wilson, Pamela Vincent & Olivia Reese
Thursday, Jan 14, 2016 8:30 PM
Catalina Bar & Grill, Hollywood, CA.
6725 West Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood California 90028
Phone: (323) 466-2210
(one block EAST of Highland Ave.)
ENTRANCE on McCadden
One of the best part of living in Los Angeles besides the weather, is the plethora of great art museums. The County of Los Angeles on Wilshire for Modern Art has been pumping out great live jazz concerts for years. many I have been witness to, and some I missed. Unfortunately, I missed the recent Friday evening’s lineup (August 14) when the Bobby Bradford Ensemble came on like “a Tsunami” to the capacity audience in the outside venue. what a band he brought on this warm,sunny day. (Band ) Bobby Bradford on cornet, Vinny Golia on bari sax and bass clarinet, William Roper/tuba, vocalist Dwight Trible, trumpeter Josh Aguiar, Cathlene Pineda/piano, bass clarinet, tenor sax Brian Walsh, Tina Raymond/drums and Zephyr Avalon on bass.
Fortunately for me, my good friend and well respected jazz photographer Chuck Koton attended the outstanding concert where he was able to capture some of the electricity coming out of the musicians, including special guest vocalist Dwight Trible. Trible “delivered the word” on the now classic ode to Lester Young, by legendary bassist Charlie Mingus, Good Bye Pork Pie Hat.
It was less than two weeks ago, a maximum crowd watched Dwight Trible perform with his own group at LACMA ,taking the audience on a pleasant mystic journey. Bobby has always had the midas touch in knowing which ingredients to toss into the Jazz gumbo he’s been known for. Putting the right personnel for the sound chemistry that exist in the players.
My first experience with Bobby Bradford was in college, as he was my professor of Afro-American music, circa 1972. At that time Bradford was co-leading a local band of journeymen musicians including fellow music educator and co-founder, John Carter, an able-bodied woodwinds player,primarily clarinet. You can dismiss without investigation, but listening to Bradford in 2015 is like being a time machine,catapulting you into an Astral -traveling scene that constantly changes, which is what improvisations is all about.. go to the internet for further study on Bobby Bradford..
Local Jazz artists are throwing their hat in the ring, or in this case their voices and instruments. I have assembled a plethora of very talented musicians and singers to produce the “POCKET JAZZ SERIES”, a group of concerts. I’ve coined that phrase to emphasize the “small in stature, big in content” being presented at the World Stage Performance gallery, a limited seating space for the performing arts. However, “My thinking was to have two very different shows back to back weekends, so those that cannot make one, they maybe able to make the other.”
Starting with Saturday August 22 at 7:30 ,@ World Stage 4344 Degnan Blvd. Los Angeles,CA 90008, tickets/Info 951-840-7120 we’re kicking off the Series with a moving tribute. The GENIUS of DUKE PEARSON:Thanks Uncle Duke. the evening will be filled with sparkling Duke Pearson compositions, along with other composers who was either produced by Duke or, worked with him, such Donald Byrd, Cedar Walton, Bobby Hutcherson ,etc. The music is being performed by The UNCLE DUKE LEGACY BAND featuring veteran jazz pianist/music director, Bobby West. voices featured are Aldene “Pat” Sligh, Jana Wilson and Mechelle La’Chaux . Come out and celebrate a fresh new approach to exposing an audience to unsung greatness and such historic significance. writer of such popular jazz classics as Jeannine, Fancy Free, Sudel, Wahoo, Sweet Honeybee, Big Bertha’, Gaslight,ESP,and most famous , Christo Redentor, just to name a few.. make an evening of it. Tickets are $15-$20 limited Seating- first come first served, those with tickets will have seat priority.