Archive for dizzy gillespie

JAZZ LIVES!!! 10/20/16 – Trumpet Tribute (featuring Kenny Dorham)

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Jazz in Charlotte, Obscure Trumpet Masters, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2016 by curtjazz

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz – Thursday, October 20: Trumpet Tribute – featuring Kenny Dorham

kennydorham_unamasOn this week’s edition of JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, it will be all about the trumpets.

With the birthdays of Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis and Dizzy Gillespie all taking place this week, plus the Grammy winning jazz trumpeter Ashlin Parker, paying tribute to the underappreciated trumpet master Kenny Dorham, in The Jazz Arts Initiative’s JAZZ ROOM this Friday and Saturday, it is a perfect time for a Trumpet Tribute, from 6 pm – 9 pm, Thursday on CharlotteCommunityRadio (CLTCRadio).

He was a trumpet player of exceptional gifts; a composer of jazz classics, such as “Blue Bossa” and a better than average vocalist. Nevertheless, McKinley Howard “Kenny” Dorham (1924-1972), often gets lost among the glut of trumpet stars of the 1950’s and 60’s. He was a member of Art Blakey’s original Jazz Messengers and he replaced Clifford Brown in Max Roach’s group after Brownie’s tragic death. Dorham’s recordings as a leader are some of the most enduring of the era, including Afro Cuban, Quiet Kenny, ‘Round About Midnight at the Café Bohemia and Una Mas. He also made memorable music as a sideman, especially with his frequent musical partner, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. Together, they made three classic Blue Note albums over a two year period, under Henderson’s name: Page One; Our Thing and In ‘n Out.

ashlin-parker

Ashlin Parker

Charlotte native Ashlin Parker plays with large and small ensembles nationally and internationally. His solos have been described at various times as being lyrical or fiery, with throaty growls or “brilliant vibrato,” and with lightning staccato runs or “superb legato” phrasing.  When part of a front-line, Ashlin can bring energy, bite, and zest to a performance through engaging in “fine counterpoint duets” or spirited trading with other horn players.  His newest ensemble, the Trumpet Mafia, is considered “an immensely talented band.”

Ashlin shared in the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s album, Book One.  Following Book One, Ashlin has recorded with numerous artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, Dmitry Mospan, James Partridge, Terence Blanchard and Jason Marsalis. Ashlin has been teaching various aspects of jazz, including improvisation, theory, repertoire, arranging, and performance preparation in private lessons, courses, summer institutes, jazz camps, and master classes for more than ten years.  He has been leading the jazz trumpet studio in the Music Department at the University of New Orleans since January 2011.

Be sure to join me on JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, as we honor the musical legacy of Kenny Dorham and play the music of Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove and  Ashlin Parker; Thursday, October 20; from 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT); on CLTCRadio.

Don’t miss Ashlin Parker as he pays tribute to Kenny Dorham, in the Jazz Arts Initiative’s THE JAZZ ROOM. Friday, October 21, at 6 pm & 8:15 pm and Saturday, October 22, at 7 pm and 9:15 pm. For ticket information, visit www.thejazzarts.org

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airs LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm via CharlotteCommunityRadio.orgCLTCRadio.org OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.

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Birthday Video Tribute – Dizzy Gillespie

Posted in Video Vault with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2013 by curtjazz

Dizzy GillespieI’ve done a bunch of these birthday video tributes over the years but I somehow missed Birks. Well, let’s rectify that now.

People who know nothing about jazz know his name, his signature bent trumpet and his iconic “puffy cheeks” when blowing his trumpet. He influenced so many who came behind him. There would be no Miles, Hub, Morgan, Shaw, Wynton or Hargrove without Dizzy.

Born on October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, SC, today marks the 96th Anniversary of his birth.

But you didn’t come here for the history lesson, you came for the clips, so here are a few choice ones of the legend at various stages of his illustrious career.

Happy Birthday to John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie!

 “Salt Peanuts”

“And Then She Stopped” (with James Moody)

“Tin Tin Deo”

“Umbrella Man (with Louis Armstrong)

“Manteca” (with the aptly named ‘Dream Band’)

“Swing Low Sweet Cadillac” (From The Muppet Show)

Unsung Women of Jazz #9 – Clora Bryant

Posted in Unsung Women of Jazz with tags , , , , on October 23, 2011 by curtjazz

Clora Bryant

“It was a Sunday afternoon…They were trying to get Charlie [Parker] to play at the club next door, the Lighthouse, but no one could get him to sit in. Then he came over to where I was playing, borrowed a new Selmer tenor from somebody, and said, ‘Well, what do you want to play Clora?’ And I said, ‘Now’s the Time.’ So I set the tempo… and everybody got really swinging.”Clora Bryant recalls playing with Charlie Parker

She has played with Bird, Diz and Satchmo. She is a legend of L.A.’s Central Avenue Jazz Scene. Yet, Clora Bryant is barely known outside of Southern California.

Clora Bryant was a “trumpetiste” (her preferred term) for over half a century. Women trumpet player/leaders are still fairly rare today. In the ’40’s and ’50’s, they were virtually unheard of.  But that didn’t stop Ms. Bryant.

Born in Texas in 1927, Clora Bryant’s originally played the piano and sang.  She did not pick up a trumpet until her junior year in high school, after her brother was drafted and went off to serve in WWII.  She wanted to be in the marching band and the trumpet was her way in.  Clora was a fast learner. So fast that she earned trumpet scholarships to Bennett College and Oberlin, only a year later.  She turned down both scholarships, opting instead to attend Prairie View College in Houston, which was closer to home.

When Clora’s father landed a job in Los Angeles, Clora transferred to UCLA.  It was there that she heard the sound of bebop, coming from the clubs on Central Avenue, the center of African-American life in L.A. at the time.  Clora was drawn to that sound like a moth to a flame. She began sitting in during late night jam sessions, where she played with other West Coast jazz players, like Howard McGhee, Frank Morgan and Teddy Edwards.  She was a good enough player to get invited to sit in when some cats would come from the east, like Bird and Diz.  The bond with Dizzy was so strong that he became Clora’s mentor, starting a friendship that would endure until Dizzy’s death. 

Clora Bryant has always been resourceful. In addition to being a trumpet player and vocalist, she also learned to paly the drums. She was proficient enough on the skins to land a job with the Queens of Swing and tour with them for several years. In the early ’50’s Ms. Bryant returned to playing the trumpet. She backed Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker during that time. She also married and gave birth to her first two children.

In 1957 Clora Bryant recorded and released her first and only album as a leader; …Gal With a Horn, for Mode RecordsIt’s an infectious, mostly uptempo affair, with Clora singing as well as blowing on all eight tracks. She gets solid support from a strong group that includes veteran bassist Ben Tucker and tenor saxophonist Walter Benton.

Ms. Bryant spent most of the remainder of the fifties on the road, playing the hot spots in Chicago, Denver and Vegas.  During the sixties, she teamed with her vocalist brother, Mel, to create a successful song and dance act, even hosting their own TV show in Australia for a while.  Clora made international headlines in 1989, when she accepted then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s invitation to play in U.S.S.R.; becoming the first female jazz musician to do so. 

A 1996 heart attack forced Clora to put down her trumpet, but she barely skipped a beat. She continues to sing and lecture across the country about her rich life experiences and what it was like to be a pioneering woman in jazz.  Within the past decade, Clora Byrant has begun to receive some long overdue recognition.  She was Honored by Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with its 2002 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival Award, in 2002. And in 2007 a long-planned documentary Trumpetisically, Clora Byant,  was released.

As you can see in these clips that were recorded within the last year, Clora Bryant is still going strong at 84.  May she continue to do so for many more years!

Recommended Recordings:

Unsung Women of Jazz #6 – Melba Liston

Posted in Unsung Women of Jazz with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2011 by curtjazz

Melba Liston (1926 – 1999)

“When I saw the trombone I thought how beautiful it looked and knew I just had to have one. No one told me that it was difficult to master. All I knew was that it was pretty and I wanted one.” – Melba Liston

Trombonist/Arranger/Composer Melba Liston was born in Kansas City, MO on January 13, 1926.  In her early years, she shuttled back and forth between the and Kansas City, KS, where her grandparents lived.  She got her first trombone at seven, when a traveling music store brought instruments to school.  By the time she was eight, she was playing solo trombone on local radio shows. 

When Melba was eleven, her family moved to Los Angeles.  There she was mentored by a local music teacher, who ran a big band made up of neighborhood children.  That relationship ended after four years, when Melba decided to join the musicians union, against the teacher’s wishes. Nevertheless, Liston joined the pit band at Los Angeles’ Lincoln Theatre at age sixteen. 

When the Lincoln discontinued live shows in 1943, Liston joined the new band being formed by Gerald Wilson.  She also recorded in a group with old school pal Dexter Gordon.  Melba stayed with Wilson for five years, until his group disbanded.  She then joined Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band, along with Wilson. That lasted about a year, until Dizzy’s band also broke up. 

After joining Wilson again in a Bebop band that backed Billie Holiday on an ill-fated tour of the South, Ms. Liston gave up music for a few years. She took a job with the Los Angeles Board of Education. Music, however, was not completely out of her blood, as she continued to compose and arrange on the side.  She even tried her hand at acting for a while, landing bit parts in The Prodigal, alongside Lana Turner and in The Ten Commandments, as a harp player. 

But the music was never far away from Melba’s heart, so when the State Department asked Diz to form a big band for a Middle East/Asia tour, he coaxed Liston into joining him. Though she rarely soloed during that time, she did a considerable amount of arranging.  Including “Stella by Starlight”, “My Reverie” and “Wonder Why”. These arrangements (and more by Melba) were recorded and can be heard on the Birks Works compilation, on Verve.

Diz wasn’t the only one who dug Melba’s arranging.  Quincy Jones, who played trumpet in the Gillespie band at the time, was forming a band to tour Europe. he asked Ms. Liston to join him and she agreed. In 1958, Melba Liston recorded her sole album as a leader; Melba Liston and Her BonesOn this date, Liston and an array of trombonists, including Slide Hampton, Al Grey and Bennie Green, were front and center, with solid support from Kenny Burrell, Ray Bryant, Charlie Persip and others. Co-produced by Leonard Feather, it’s a shame that this fine album drifted into obscurity.

In that same year, Melba met pianist composer Randy Weston. Weston admitted that at the time, he had never met a woman trombonist before.  Their meeting sparked a creative partnership that lasted almost 40 years.  Weston initially hired Melba to put some meat on the bones of his compositions. They realized quickly that musically, they were two halves of the same coin. Said Weston; “Melba is incredible; she hears what I do and then expands it. She will create a melody that sounds like I created it. She’s just a great, great arranger.”  All in all Weston and Liston worked on 10 albums together, including Little Niles, Earth Birth and Volcano Blues.

Melba Liston with Dizzy’s ‘Dream Band’ in 1982 on “Manteca” [Melba solos starting at 3:35]

Besides her work with Weston, Melba continued to freelance, working often with Clark Terry and briefly with Charles Mingus. Upon her return to Los Angeles in the late ’60’s, the pop music world took note of her talents and she arranged sessions for stars including Marvin Gaye and the Supremes.

Ms. Liston was very active until 1986, when she suffered the first of several strokes.  She had to give up playing and was confined to a wheelchair, but Melba continued to compose and arrange, until her death in 1999.

Melba Liston – most of her career was spent behind the scenes, but her work was always headliner quality.

Recommended Recordings:

  • Melba Liston and Her Bones (Fresh Sound) – CD in print; mp3 available
  • Volcano Blues  [w/ Randy Weston] (Verve – Gitanes) – CD OOP but available
  • Little Niles [Randy Weston] (Jazz Track [Import]) – CD in print [her first recording with Weston]
  • Khepera [Randy Weston] – (Verve) CD in print, mp3 available  [her final recording with Weston]