Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Brothers and Other Mothers [From the Archives]

® 1976 by Mark Gardner CODA Magazine
© -Steven A. Cerra, Introduction copyright protected; all rights reserved.
Sometimes the World of Jazz and the denizens who populate it remind me of the Argumentation and Debate class that I took during my sophomore year in college.

I had a crush on a girl who was taking the class which was my primary reason for enrolling in it. Little did I know what I was in store for in either case. Fortunately for me, I passed the class and flunked the relationship.

For, as one would imagine, only those with a feisty tendency to argue about anything and everything were drawn to this subject.

Amongst devotees of Jazz are to be found many who hold strong opinions, especially about what Jazz is and what it is not. A special place seems to be reserved for the debate about the role of race in the development of the music, especially as to whether White musicians made any contributions to the music or whether Jazz deserves to be exclusively considered as a Black club to which Whites are occasionally allowed in as guests.

Who influenced whom is also an almost immediate signal for some Jazz fans to engage in an argument and then there’s the perennial, favorite debate – who’s the better player, “Earl or Bubba”?

Perhaps it’s because my introduction to Jazz started in relative isolation by listening to my parents’ Traditional and Swing Era jazz records which I discovered “growing” dust in our basement cellar that I was able to initially avoid some of these pitched battled on Jazz and its many manifestations and aspects.


For example, I had no idea that proponents of these earlier forms of Jazz were often referred to by some as “Moldy Figs” by boppers because of the former’s disdain for the more modern and alternative strains of the music such as bebop, hard bop, progressive jazz, East and West Coast Jazz, Latin Jazz, et al.

And although many of the subsequent years that shaped my interest in the music occurred when I resided in the Los Angeles area with easy access to clubs such as Jazz City, Shelly’s Manne Hole and The Lighthouse CafĂ©, I also had no idea about the distinctions and influences associated with the Jazz that was played in these places.

As a 17-year old, I was just overwhelmingly delighted to be allowed to enter Shelly’s club through the back door [err, “The Family Entrance”], not to pay a cover charge, spend .75 cents for a Coca Cola [with a .25 cent tip to the waitress] and to sit three feet away from trumpeter Conte Candoli as he played one fiery solo after another all evening long.


I found out much later that Conte had two influences on his instrument: his brother Pete, an outstanding “lead” trumpet player who was also well-known for the many explosive trumpet solos on Henry Mancini’s scores for the Peter Gunn TV program, and, Dizzy Gillespie, about whom, no more needs to be said.

But none of this meant anything to me at the time – I just loved the way Conte’s exciting solos could “light up the room,” especially when the were preceded by Richie Kamuca’s very “cool” [i.e.: relaxed] tenor saxophone sound.

After a bit, I discerned that the tenor players that I heard most frequently in and around Los Angeles – Richie, Bob Cooper, Dave Pell, Bill Holman and Med Flory [in the Terry Gibbs Big Band], Jimmy Giuffre, Zoot Sims [mostly on records], Wardell Gray [exclusively on records] Bill Perkins, Dave van Kriedt, Bill Trujillo, among others – had a style of phrasing and a sonority on the instrument that were very similar.


I also noticed that Dexter Gordon [whom I first heard in person at the Ivar Theater in Hollywood in the West Coast version of the play - “The Connection”], Harold Land, Curtis Amy, and Teddy Edwards, among others, played differently than the tenor sax players in the first grouping, but that they, too, sounded similar to one another. The guys in this group also had more in common with tenor players that I began to hear on the Blue Note Records that I could occasionally afford to buy [when I could find them!]: like Sonny Rollins, Johnny Griffin, Hank Mobley, and Tina Brooks.


In those early days of my association with Jazz, my musical sensibilities were barely formed. So while I had made these nascent observations about the different styles of tenor saxophonists, I didn’t know who to ask, let alone how to phrase the question, about such differences.

It might also be helpful to keep in mind that I was framing these questions in the late 1950s, a period that might be compared to the Dark Ages in terms of information that was then available in written, let alone in audio-visual form, on the subject of Jazz [which only a tiny minority considered to be an “Art Form” at the time].

Luckily, I stumbled upon some issues of Down Beat magazine and I became a regular reader of what turned out to be a veritable fountain of information on all aspect of Jazz [the noted Jazz writer, Gene Lees, had just become editor].

Paralleling this was the fact that the circle of tenor players that I played with in school dance bands, rehearsal bands and small combos began to multiply – rapidly.

Somehow, through reading the magazine and from anecdotal information gleaned from my cohorts, I became aware that there were two principal tenor saxophonist during the Swing Big Band Era – Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young – and that these two men influenced most of the young tenor saxophonist of the post World War II era.

Needless to say, since we were talking about Jazz, there appeared to be a raging and irreconcilable debate as to who was the better of the two players and which was the greater [more significant] style.


My voyage of self-discovery ultimately took me to the [over-simplified] point of realizing that Coleman Hawkins was the Father of the “Hot School” of tenor playing to which Dexter Gordon, Harold Land, Teddy Edwards and the East Coast hard-boppers belonged while Lester Young was the Daddy of the “Cool School” of tenor saxophonists listed in the first grouping above headed by Richie Kamuca.

I had not gotten to the point of drawing the obvious racial distinction between these groupings [see below].

And so it is that when the editorial staff of JazzProfiles comes upon a writer who is able to lift such debates and discussions above the trite generalizations that I arrived at on my own, it feels grateful to be the recipient of such knowledge and I feel compelled to share it.

Mark Gardner has been a fine writer about Jazz for many years. He is based in England and has authored numerous essays, articles and liner notes on a variety of Jazz-related subjects.

What follows was originally developed by Mark as the liner notes to a double LP that was released by Savoy Records in 1976 [SJL2210]. Entitled Brothers and Other Mothers, it was made up of 31 tracks that were originally issued by the label from 1946-1950.

While the 1976 LP is difficult to find, Mark subsequently published his liner notes to it in four-parts in CODA Magazine and there are presented here with the usual caveat of 
© - copyright protected; all rights reserved.
BROTHERS AND OTHER MOTHERS – (LINER NOTES) Part One® 1976 by Mark Gardner CODA Magazine

"Tides of musical influence are virtually impossible to monitor with complete accuracy. And in jazz, a young music still and one that has always been in a hurry, the problem is even more complex. Names and styles pass rapidly before our eyes and ears with disconcerting speed. This is not the scene for the leisurely, scholarly chronicler who likes ordered, out-and-dried developments, easy to trace.

So if an inquiring spirit poses the question, "Who was the first saxophonist to latch on to what Lester Young was into in the late 1930?" There is only one honest answer, "Who knows?" Influences are absorbed, often unconsciously, at other times deliberately (though perhaps not admitted), frequently quite casually. The process of widespread musical assimilation of new ideas in a constantly shifting artistic area like jazz is remarkably swift. One can notice significant changes, accepted and incorporated into the styles of numerous players, within months, even weeks.

There will always be the imitators, the mimics who can copy in meticulous detail the work of a true creator. But in jazz outright imitation is not as widespread as we may sometimes feel. Indeed, one of the fascinating aspects of the music is to view the innovations and to listen to the myriad ways they are expressed by various jazz practitioners who may not be originators but who do possess individualistic qualities.

There is nothing especially admirable about a musician who switches completely from one style to another which is coming into vogue. But an established player who shows he has been keeping his ears open for new things that he likes, and demonstrates the fact with a particular phrase, a tonal inflection, maybe just the choice of a certain tune, is informing us that he and the music are alive and growing.


The phenomenon of Lester Young's enveloping influence on young saxophone players between 1940 and 1950, and beyond has, perhaps, been over-simplified. The shadow of Pres was cast far beyond the generation of white tenor players who emerged from the wartime big bands, a refuge for many who were either too young or too clever to be drafted. The young, and not-so-young, black players were equally touched by Lester whose conception, let it be noted. penetrated deeply into all corners of jazz and was by no means an exclusive source for reedmen. Trumpeters, pianists. trombonists, singers and drummers all learned invaluable lessons from digging Young gliding out of the Basie section or riming those deceptively nonchalant gems behind Billie.

One can only generalize about how, why, when and where Pres seemed to permeate jazz and help to lead the music from swing into bebop in the most relaxed and logical way. Charlie Parker was on hand to crystallize and extend the direction, and meanwhile Pres went right along his own easy and supple path. His music changed, too, and young guys picked up on those shifts. But, unquestionably, Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards. James Moody, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt were just as aware of/and affected by Pres as were their white contemporaries Stan Getz, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Allen Eager, Brew Moore and Herbie Steward. So too were older men like Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Buddy Tate and Georgie Auld.


Perhaps the key difference between, say Dexter and Getz, was that Gordon had also listened profitably to Hawkins, Webster and Byas, while Stan appeared to be a Pres man and a Dexter Gordon admirer! Ideas were exchanged more readily in those days and to unravel the cross-pollination of musical thought that went on between the guys involved would be impossible now.
But we can examine a goodly slice of recorded evidence, enjoyable clues and pointers and fine music to boot, within the covers of this key reissue. In this set can be heard a superstar in embryo (Stan Getz). a living legend (Allen Eager), two departed legends (Brew Moore, Serge Chaloff), Mr. Swing (Zoot Sims), and the complete musician, composer/arranger/soloist (Al Cohn), They all happened to be saxophonists who came to prominence immediately after the war. Four-Cohn, Getz, Sims and Chaloff-were Brothers in the famous Herman bebop hand. Moore (he never worked with Herman) was a brother by adoption while Eager had been a member of Woody's saxophone section in 1944.

It was out of the big modern bands, short-lived but exciting anachronisms, that so many of the Pres men sprang into the spotlight. Ammons, Stitt, Gray and Budd Johnson were with the Billy Eckstine crew at a crucial period. Others had been with Earl Hines. The Herman orchestra came a little later but it was a haven for young saxophonists. Ammons played with both Eckstine and Herman so he heard it all.


The Second Herd, arguably Woody's best band, played a vital role in the wider spread of the Pres influence via the Four Brothers who were in the first instance Herbie Steward, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Serge Chaloff. Three tenors and a baritone was an unusual line-up hut Woody played safe by hiring altoman Sam Marowitz, and of course the leader often swelled the section to six on alto. Still, it was the three light-toned tenors and the baritone that combined for a new ensemble sound.


In his usual clever way Woody Herman adapted an idea for his own purposes. As early as the beginning of 1946 Gene Roland organized a band with four tenors in the lineup-Al Cohn, Stan Getz, Joe Magro and Louis Otis. In the summer of the following year he revived the idea at a place called Pontrelli's Ballroom, Los Angeles. By then the saxophone personnel comprised Getz, Sims, Steward and Jimmy Giuffre. Ralph Burns heard them and was impressed. He persuaded Woody to go along and listen. Result: Herman put Getz, Sims and Steward on the payroll and replaced Giuffre with Chaloff. The astute leader had bought himself a distinctive feature for the band that was ultimately launched in October 1947. Well, did all those white tenor players sound the same. as Miles Davis once asserted? Not on your life but they did have much in common, not least their respect for Pres. And when several of them played together and traded breaks it could be confusing. As an exercise try pinpointing the soloists on every segment of a Stan Getz date from April 1949 which brought together Getz, Cohn, Eager, Moore and Sims. It is a tough blindfold test.

But honestly it should not be so hard to tell Getz from Cohn in the ordinary way. Or Eager from Moore, who are certainly closer in feeling, than the former pair. Cohn always had a firmer tone than the others. The Getz sound possessed an edge and was less rounded. Eager was, incredibly, into Pres and bebop at the same time. Moore, was an ebullient player who worshipped Young. Sims? He played Zoot with a Young accent.

BROTHERS AND OTHER MOTHERS (LINER NOTES) Part Two® 1976 by Mark Gardner


Incidentally, it is interesting to note that Young himself thought that Paul Quinichette and "maybe Eager" came nearest to his own style. Pres remains an enigma-but then so do Moore and Eager, two highly unconventional characters whose restless lifestyles typified their time. Milton A. Moore Jr. was a wanderer, a born loser, a hero of the beat generation and a brilliant saxophonist. Yes, he once remarked that any tenorman who did not play like Pres was playing wrong-that was the extent of his admiration.


Moore was born in Indianola, Mississippi, on March 26, 1924, and his first musical instrument was a harmonica given to him by his mother as a seventh birthday present. He played in his high school band and at 18 got a job with Fred Ford's dixieland band. He arrived in New York during 1943 and heard what bebop was all about. He would return to New York several times in the late forties to lead his own quartet, work with Claude Thornhill (an unlikely environment), swing his tail off in front of Machito's Afro-Cubans, gig with Gerry Mulligan and Kai Winding at the Royal Roost and Bop City.

Moore was never around one place for too long. He would take off for Memphis or New Orleans, playing all kinds of weird jobs ("I go where the work is"). Around 1953-54 he was on the Greenwich Village scene, a frequent jammer at Bob Reisner's Open Door where other cats playing mostly for kicks and little bread included Thelonious Monk. Charlie Parker, Charlie Mingus and Roy Haynes. It was at the Open Door that Bird and Brew once serenaded a piece of chewing gum stuck to the floor. Recently discovered recordings also found Parker and Moore together on 1953 sessions in Montreal, Canada.


One day in the 'fifties Brew casually took off for California. As Moore told it, "Billy Faier had a 1949 Buick and somebody wanted him to drive it out to California and he rode through Washington Square shouting 'anyone for the Coast?' And I was just sitting there on a bench and there wasn't shit shaking in New York so I-said 'hell, yes,' and when we started off there was Rambling Jack Elliot and Woody Guthrie." After Woody heard Brew play at the roadside en route he refused to speak again to the saxophonist.

Guthrie didn't dig jazz. "But we were the only juice heads in the car so Woody would say to Jack or Billy, 'Would you ask Brew if he'd like to split a bottle of port with me, and I'd say, 'You tell Woody that's cool with me.' Then they let me off in L.A. and I took a bus up to San Francisco."


Before that fantastic journey. Brew had worked around with his buddy Tony Fruscella, a beautiful trumpeter who was also over-fond of the juice. Allen Eager was also a regular playing partner of Fruscella's. Brew stayed in Frisco for about five years, played all over town, made a couple of albums under his own name, recorded with Cal Tjader and drank a lot of wine. He was seriously ill in 1959 but recovered and in 1961 moved to Europe and for three years drifted around the Continent. Twice in the 1960's he returned to the States but there was still no shit shaking and nobody bothered to record him properly (a date as a sideman with Ray Nance was the only evidence of the final, unhappy return). His parents were very old and his mother sick. Brew was far from well and didn't look after himself. Friends kept an eye on him and tried to ensure that he ate regularly but Moore was almost past caring.

When he decided to split back to Scandinavia via the Canary Islands where he played at Jimmy Gourley's Half Note Club in Las Palmas, some of his admirers in New York produced a four-page newspaper called "Brew Moore News," in which Brew wrote a touching little verse:

Love I feel, but longing much;
Thy face I see, but cannot touch.
Your presence in heart is good, I know,
but hand in hand-it's greater so

Time was running out for Brew. There was one more album-a great set made at a Stockholm club where Moore really grooved. Then came the news that he had died after falling down a flight of steps in a restaurant. The final irony:

Brew, who had scuffled and scraped for cash almost all his life, had just been left a substantial sum of money, to give him genuine security, by a relative who had died. It happened too late.

Eager was a very different personality but he passed through the same obscurity syndrome. Allen Eager was a suave, cool. sophisticated dude, a big city man from New York (born there on January 10, 1927) who became a jetsetter. Stories about Eager are legion. Some may be myth, others are certainly true. Eager started on clarinet at the age of 13 and three years later-this was the war, remember, and experienced heads in the big bands had been drafted- he joined Bobby Sherwood. Then he worked with Sonny Dunham, Shorty Sherock. Herman, Tommy Dorsey and Johnny Bothwell's small group

.
Allen was soon deeply involved in the nightly happenings on 52nd Street where a string of clubs offered the new sounds in jazz. The young tenorman, with a devotion to the Lestorian Bible, earned the respect of older players. On a Saturday evening in September 1945 an incredible six-hour show was presented by Monte Kay and Symphony Sid at the Fraternal Clubhouse, which signaled the new musical order to returnees from the European and Pacific theatres of war. Drummer Big Sid Catlett got top billing, but the "Sensational All-Star Orchestra" also included Buck Clayton and Al Killian (trumpets), Trummy Young (trombone), Charley (sic) Parker (alto), Dexter Gordon (tenor), Tony Sciacca (Scott) (clarinet), Al Haig and Billy Taylor (pianos), Len Gaskin and Lloyd Trottman (basses), Tiny Grimes (guitar) and J.C. Heard (drums). Under this impressive list on the posters ran the line, "Introducing Allen Eager on Tenor Sax." 
During this period Eager found himself in some strange contexts, such as a back-up soloist to eccentric bluesman, Wynonie Harris. Eager, needless to say, just played Eager in these circumstances. The following year he was accorded a singular honour by the great Coleman Hawkins on a Hawkins date for R.C.A. Victor. The leader and star gave Eager his head on a Denzil Best number called, appropriately, Allen's Alley; Hawkins himself did not solo. Allen obliged with an excellent solo and Young-like exchanges with altoman Pete Brown. His love of Lester is well illustrated on that title, and the enclosed tracks. Eager once said of Young, "He was the first giant to put down the harshness of Jazz and instead just express pure beauty." That was also Allen's cue and view. As Ira Gitler stated in his book Jazz Masters of the 40's, "Eager, like Gray. was a master at making a meaningful statement in a short period. Also, like Gray, he was a swinger."During much of 1945 Eager and Gray worked together as members of the Tadd Dameron Band at the Royal Roost. The two saxophonists' differing stances on the Young/ Parker innovations made for a fascinating contrast. "Eager was not merely an imitator, however," wrote Gitler. "He had his own interpretation of Pres's style, and already other elements, like Charlie Parker, were changing it more. Whatever he played swung with a happy, light-footed quality and pure toned beauty. His interior time was equal to his fine overall swing. Many a night in the Roost, he had us ready to get up and start dancing along the bar."

If alcohol was Brew Moore's problem, then narcotics were certainly a plague so far as Eager, Getz and Chaloff were concerned. According to Leonard Feather, Eager was "an amusing, well read and highly articulate guy" but there was a Mr. Hyde side to his character which led him into addiction. In the years that followed the forties Eager was frequently out of music. There were times when he followed healthy pursuits like skiing or horseback riding. He took up motor racing and won first prize in the touring-car class at Sebring's sports car races one year.

In 1956 Eager turned up in Paris where critic Alun Morgan met and heard him. Allen's playing fluctuated. Sometimes it had the old brilliance but another night it would be flat and lack lustre, as indeed it is on a gimmicky album, featuring musicians from a number of countries, made that year. Having been particularly impressed by Eager's work in a Paris club on one particular evening, Morgan mentioned this to French pianist Henri Renaud who replied that the critic was very fortunate because Allen normally retired to bed at 9 p.m.!

French writer Michel Delorme, an ardent bebopper, knew nothing of Allen Eager's presence in Paris until he encountered him in a Post Office one afternoon. 'I could not believe my eyes, but we spoke and he seemed a pleasant guy." Morgan assessed him as, "Very cool, rather introspective, highly intelligent and sophisticated. He obviously had private financial means." This is borne out by one of the many popular stories about Eager. It seems that early one morning he crashed in his expensive sports car on one of the riverside roads in Paris. He walked away from the wreck unscathed without a backward glance, as if he were discarding an empty cigarette pack.

BROTHERS AND OTHER MOTHERS (LINER NOTES) Part Three
® 1976 by Mark Gardner
You would not expect to find a jazz musician's name in a biography of Marion Brando, yet Allen Eager pops up in The Brando I Knew by Carlo Fiore. He was at a party attended by Brando and, typically, the saxophonist refused to come to the telephone when Fiore called up, but, according to the author, Eager "had been a friend for years."

Apart from his playing in Paris, Eager made another attempt at a comeback in 1960 on alto, an instrument he had taken up a few years before. But nothing came of it. Assessed Gitler, "The years away from his horn had made him rusty; moreover, the old fire and fine timing were heard only in fleeting moments-it was a case of his losing something along the way that was difficult to find again."


During the late 1960's Eager was reported as being involved with the "flower people" on the West Coast. He had taken up soprano saxophone and was apparently sitting in with the Mothers of Invention on occasion. Since then the Eager Trail has gone cold. Allen has become a sort of 
Howard Hughes of jazz. Whether by accident or design he has vanished into anonymity, leaving all too few recorded works as examples of his youthful brilliance.

Pictures can sometimes tell the story, and two photographs seem to sum up the change that occurred in Allen Eager. A 1948 shot by Herman Leonard shows him cool, but intense, biting his tenor mouthpiece, shades drawn over his eyes. He is flanked by Miles Davis and Kai Winding, and next to Miles stands a pop-eyed Charlie Parker. You can almost hear the 1948 sounds of the Royal Roost projecting across the years from the monochrome. A much later pic, by Dennis Stock, allows us to see Eager in his New York apartment, carefully nursing an alto, but the instrument seems to be almost an afterthought. The surroundings are stiflingly elegant. Eager's eyes are hooded, his face expressionless, the mouth set. He is a million miles away from the performing art he once typified. It is a sad photograph because Allen Eager, and those who love his playing, are aware of what has been lost.


Stan Getz, the youngest of the five tenor saxophonists celebrated in this edition, was definitely the most precocious. He was a teenage prodigy and for him too much came too soon. Born in Philadelphia on February 2, 1927. Getz started on bass, then switched to bassoon, but when he joined Dick "Stinky" Rogers at 15 he was playing tenor sax. Stan packed away a lot of experience in those early years working with Jack Teagarden, Dale Jones, Bob Chester, a year with Stan Kenton, Randy Brooks, Buddy Morrow, Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. By the time he signed on with Woody Herman, Getz was well known and had recorded under his own name. His acknowledged favorite has always been Lester but, as already noted, he also drew heavily on Dexter Gordon's vocabulary at one point.


For much of 1947 he was in California, blowing with Butch Stone and his own trio at the Swing Club. His solos with Herman, especially on Early Autumn, gained him immediate recognition and he was soon winning music polls. By 1949 he was able to form his own small group and in the early 1950's he had what many listeners regard as his finest band with Al Haig, Jimmy Raney, Teddy Kotick and Tiny Kahn, They called him "The Sound," and he certainly did have a compelling and original tone, much further removed from Pres than Eager or Moore. Getz frequently toured with

Jazz at the Philharmonic in the 1950's and recorded extensively for Norman Granz, but his narcotics addiction nearly ruined a distinguished career. First he was arrested for trying to hold up a drugstore in Seattle, Washington. Then, on a visit to Scandinavia he became seriously ill and did not play for six months. After more concert work he returned to Sweden for a couple of years before going home again.

Getz was once more in the limelight thanks to the bossa nova boom of the early 1960's. His style suited to perfection the gentle rhythms and melodic songs that the Brazilians brought to jazz. And since then Getz has led a series of fine quartets featuring, in the main, young musicians who have gone on to make important contributions to the music. Stan, indeed, has arrived at personal and artistic maturity. If at one stage his work epitomized the so called "cool school," such is no longer the case. He often sounds "heated" these days. But then, as a study of his solos from earlier days on the set will reveal, he always was an emotional player, subtle but expressive. In the realm of swinging, Getz was a rather late developer, particularly when you set his work against that of Moore and Eager. He also tended to play on top of the beat, a point you seldom found Pres at.

It is not hard to understand the reasons for Stan's early fame. His playing had a freshness and romantic quality about it. and Getz really looked the part of the clean cut, All-American boy who had made good. The problems, as so often happens, really started with widespread recognition of his talents.

Al Cohn's achievements, though not lauded to the extent of the Getz contribution, are perhaps more impressive when analysed. Cohn has always been an enormously exciting soloist. A real jazzman who never plays the same solo twice and on successive takes will attack a progression in completely different ways. His records show that he has maintained an enviable level of consistency and craftsmanship, and has continued to grow as an artist. That is also true of his efforts as an arranger and composer and occasional bandleader.Cohn was born in Brooklyn on November 24, 1925 (two years to the day after Serge Chaloff) and cut his teeth on clarinet, an instrument he still uses sometimes. In fact he never actually studied tenor saxophone but picked up his own playing technique. His first job was with Joe Marsala, then came a spell as soloist and arranger with Georgie Auld's Band, followed by jobs with Alvino Rey and Buddy Rich. He replaced Herbie Steward in the Herman Herd and remained from January 1948 to April 1949 yet was not featured on any of Woody's records. Next stop was to a fine Artie Shaw Orchestra where he did cop some solo space. He left music for a couple of years but returned to play with Elliot Lawrence in 1952, Subsequently he did all manner of music jobs, writing for radio and television, making numerous records as soloist and arranger, and often teaming up with old friend Zoot Sims for, club work. He has recently returned to active playing again and sounds as good as ever. Cohn's tone has darkened and got heavier over the years but he still swings a la Lester. Through the years he has hewn close to the broad tenets that shaped his style from the outset. You can always rely on Cohn to make you feel good with his driving, purposeful swing and uncliched ideas.

I hadn't realized just how sonorous Al's tenor tone was until I heard him for the first time in person in the early 1960's. He was playing a battered old horn on which there was not a speck of lacquer to be seen but from this leaden-looking object came a deep-throated sound that was unforgettable.

BROTHERS AND OTHER MOTHERS (LINER NOTES) Part Four® 1976 by Mark Gardner
Al Cohn goes with Zoot Sims like fish and chips, and that brings us to tenorman number five-John Haley Sims who. let it be noted, also plays clarinet and alto sax with the same sense of majestic ease that is apparent in his tenor work. Sims. born at Inglewood. California on October 29, 1925, came up via the bands of Kenny Baker. Bobby Sherwood, Sunny Dunham. Bob Astor, Benny Goodman and Sid Catlett. He was a "brother" from 1947-49 and has often been part of the Benny Goodman sound over the years. He was also featured with Stan Kenton for a time in the 1950's. Sims has recorded prolifically and continues to turn out sparkling L.P.'s to this day. There's never a dull moment on a Zoot Sims record. His fluency is incredible and his tone is yet another variation on the Young approach. Zoot seldom plays badly but listeners have been positively reminded of his enormous ability of late on a series of records made by Norman Granz. He once named his favorites as Sonny Stitt and Al Cohn (Zoot and Al have undoubtedly influenced each other) but the spirit of Pres is still contained in his playing.


Completing the cast of brothers in the present collection is the sixth saxophonist Serge Chaloff. the baritone anchorman of the Herman sax section. Born in Boston in 1923, Chaloflf came from a musical background and he studied piano and clarinet but, like Cohn, was a self-taught saxophonist, originally inspired by Harry Carney and Jack Washington. Chaloff had an incredible technique on the large saxophone, one that was never quite matched by even his distinguished contemporaries Leo Parker and Cecil Payne. Serge worked through the ranks of the Tommy Reynolds, Stinky Rogers, Shep Fields and Boyd Raeburn bands. But after hearing Charlie Parker his ideas were drastically altered, and in the orchestras of Georgie Auld and Jimmy Dorsey he was rapidly identified as a Brothers superior bop soloist, a status that was emphasized when he worked with Herman. After the years with Woody, Serge retreated to Boston and then moved to California. He was another narcotics victim but he actually died of cancer on July 16. 1957. His last recordings exhibit a remarkable control of the horn and. emotionally, they are among some of the most moving performances in jazz. Chaloff was undoubtedly one of a kind and now it seems ludicrous that in the public's mind he came second to Gerry Mulligan. a good player but one who lacked the originality of Chaloff.

Trumpeter Red Rodney (who has recently made a comeback) and that fine trombonist Earl Swope were also members of the Herman Orchestra, and Stan Levey would also work with Woody but later. The three pianists heard on these sessions were all early hoppers. George Wallington worked in Dizzy Gillespie's first bop quintet, while Duke Jordan was a member of Charlie Parker's 1947/48 group and later held the piano chair in the Getz Quintet (guitarist Jimmy Raney was also in that group). The brilliant Tiny Kahn (drums) is a vital part of the Al Cohn and Serge Chaloff dates. Kahn's premature death was another appalling loss. Kahn was a close friend of the third pianist. Gene DiNovi, who remains active in music (at last report he was living in Canada). Gene recalls that the drummer on the Brew Moore date was Jimmy Dee but memory plays tricks and the session sheets definitely list Stan Levey which effectively rules out Roy Haynes who has sometimes been named as being on drums. As for bassists Curley Russell and Tommy Potter, they were choices for numerous recordings at this time. Bob Carter and Jimmy Johnson were competent timekeepers.


In compiling this superb reissue Savoy has taken the opportunity to present much music we have not had the pleasure of hearing before. The four Getz titles, written and arranged by Al Cohn, are all alternate takes. There are fascinating comparisons to be made here between the "new" takes and the originals. Similarly, Savoy has included alternates of three performances by Al Cohn. The Brew Moore Quartet is offered to us complete with additional new takes. These extra performances underline the spontaneous nature of Brew's music and his inventiveness.

As for the Eager sides-the first two studio dates under his own name-these have long been out of print and they have never been presented on a single side previously. On both occasions Allen chose the great Max Roach as his drummer. Ed Finckle served as pianist on the 1946 gathering while Duke Jordan was first choice for the quintet selections which benefit from the ebullient presence of yet another Hermanite, Terry Gibbs. second only to Milt Jackson as a pioneer of modern vibes playing.

Side A really belongs to Cohn. On the three tenors date his arrangements are fine frameworks for the soloists and on Stein's Mood. which is Getz all the way, the scoring for the ensemble is perfect and recalls the atmosphere of Early Autumn. On the other three numbers the main voices of the octet are well featured. The discipline of the three minute recording produced some beautiful miniatures, and a soloist had to compress ideas and be succinct. Listen to how much is packed into Stan Getz’s Along with no fewer than six soloists-Getz, Swope, Cohn. Raney, Sims and Jordan. As already stated, these are all alternate takes, and I would not like to say that any of them is inferior to the originals.

The Cohn quartet items do not betray the fact that this was Al's first session under his own name. He plays with surging confidence and firm authority on his own two originals and Let's Get Away From It All, The blues, Groovin' With Gus (named for Gus Grant), and Al's sprightly Infinity serve to highlight what I mentioned before-that Cohn doesn't repeat himself. All three performances benefit from the astute work of George Wallington who, alas, gave up playing piano in the late 1950's. Incidentally the date for this session is definitely July 29, 1950 and not August 12 as listed in most standard discographies. Another date to set straight is that of the 
Serge Chaloff All Stars meeting which took place on March 5,1947 (and not June or January of that year as certain sources have erroneously guessed). 


Serge Chaloff All Stars meeting which took place on March 5,1947 (and not June or January of that year as certain sources have erroneously guessed). Here we are treated to two inspections apiece of the tunes-Chaloff's Pumpernickel, Serge's Urge and a Bar A Second as well as Tiny Kahn's Gabardine and Serge. The leader was-in exceptional form, playing with commendable ability and invention. Rodney shows the sort of flair that made Parker hire him while Swope again impresses (although his facility had improved by the time he did the things with Getz on Side A). Wallington puts not a hand wrong and his introductions are attractive and apt. The alternate takes, by the way, come first, followed by the originals in each case. Dig Tiny Kahn's resourceful drumming throughout. The Brew Moore selections are a revelation. First we have three takes of Blue Brew (not a blues, but based on Pres' Blue Lester) which get successively faster. All contain prime Moore. Then there are two takes each of Brew Blew and More Brew, and one of the aptly titled No More Brew-as this was the final cut of the session and, naturally, it is a relaxed blues. Brew is heavily into Pres on all the performances. DiNovi produces an interesting pianistic blend of George Wallington and Lennie Tristano. His comping is unorthodox and adventurous and seems to inspire Brew. We can be certain, now, that the proper recording date for these selections was October 22, 1948 - when the recording ban was still officially on! Date aside, this was some of the finest playing that Brew ever committed to wax.

Finally to the engaging and essential early work of Allen Eager, represented by the first eight sides that he made as a leader. The quartet titles are very rare - only one has appeared on 12" L.P. before. Three of the numbers have been issued under different names: Vot's Dot = Static; Booby Hatch = Pogo Stick; Symphony Sid's Idea = Zadah. On the exuberant numbers with Terry Gibbs, Eager is backed by Charlie Parker's rhythm section, and it is smooth sailing all the way in such propulsive company.

If any musical student in the future should dispute the immense and lasting influence of Lester Young on a generation of young white saxophonists, he will find the answers here. But it was how these men absorbed the Pres message, retained their identities and emerged with something of their own - that is the intriguing story of The Brothers And Other Mothers. Those of us digging now will be aware that herein is contained an indispensable and closely related portion of jazz history which, first and foremost, is to be enjoyed . . . then studied."

Mark Gardner

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